April 10, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11265

Lebanese Journalist Critical Of Hizbullah Investigated For Collaboration With Israel

April 10, 2024
Lebanon, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 11265

The debate continues in Lebanon over Hizbullah's involvement in the war between Israel and Hamas, which broke out in the aftermath of Hamas October 7 terror attack in southern Israel.

On March 17, 2024, Lebanese philosopher and journalist Makram Rabah was summoned for questioning by Lebanon's General Security Directorate for his criticism of Hizbullah. The summons was issued by Judge Fadi Aqiqi, the Lebanese government commissioner to the military court.  Rabah was released after several hours of questioning, but the investigation against him is ongoing. According to him, the interrogators accused him of collaboration with Israel, of disclosing information about Hizbullah military positions and of harming this organization.

In an article he published after his release, Rabah, who is known as a harsh critic of Hizbullah, attributed his summons to statements he had made in an interview with a Lebanese news channel several days earlier, in which he slammed the organization and its decision to join the war against Israel after October 7. In the interview Rabah stated: "On October 8 [Hizbullah Secretary-General] Hassan Nasrallah said: 'We opened up this front,' and thereby rendered Israel's retaliation [against Lebanon] legitimate according to international law… As for the claim that Israel has ambitions [to expand] into our territory, I actually wish it would come and take the Litani River. That would be better than [seeing it] turn into sewage. The claim that Lebanon is Israel's only target is not accurate [either]. Israel would have been happy to see Hizbullah become the guardian of its northern border, but when Iran ordered Hizbullah to open up the [Lebanese] front so as to preserve [Iran's and Hizbullah's] reputation in the eyes of the Arab and Islamic public, it complied [with this request] … We can regain the disputed Lebanese territories through diplomacy, as we did with U.S. Envoy Amos Hochstein in the agreement for delineating the [maritime] border.  In the eyes of Hizbullah we are all traitors…"[1]

Rabah's summons for questioning was widely condemned by Lebanese politicians and journalists that oppose Hizbullah, who called it an attempt to intimidate him and silence his criticism of the organization. Journalist Vera Bou Monsef noted that Judge Aqiqi "is considered very close to Hizbullah."[2]  

The launch of an investigation against Rabah for his criticism of Hizbullah reflects the extent of this organization's control of the Lebanese state and its security apparatuses, but also the organization's anxiety about and sensitivity to criticism of its conduct in Lebanon, which is growing as the war with Israel continues and escalates.[3]    

The following are Rabah's response to his summons, as well as criticism of this affair from Lebanese politicians and journalists who oppose Hizbullah. 

Rabah: I Am An Agent For Lebanon; Hizbullah Is An Agent For Hostile Foreign Elements

The summons for questioning apparently failed to deter Rabah, who continued to speak out against Hizbullah. Shortly after his release, he wrote an article detailing the reasons for his summons and the questions he was asked, and stressing that he will continue to criticize the organization. Titled "Yes, I Am an Agent for Lebanon," the article sarcastically describes his interrogation  by the  Internal Security Force and Judge Aqiqi:  "Being very professional and law-abiding, the Internal Security Force asked [me] the questions it had been given by the government representative [Aqiqi] about the interview in which I spoke about the Al-Qalamoun area in Syria, which Hizbullah and the Iranian militias have turned into a site for storing weapons and producing and packaging Captagon drugs. [They also questioned me] about my claim that Hizbullah buys electronic components in Lebanon for its drones, which I sarcastically said are good for nothing but taking wedding pictures. 

"According to the 'government representative,' who watched the entire interview on his own without instructions from anyone, I disclosed the location of military [sites] that could allow Israel to attack them. I was asked about the source of my 'security' information. I found this question especially inane, given that all the information I presented is taken from open sources and can be found in many press reports online. As for the drones, I said that it is worth checking the sanction lists of the U.S. Treasury Department, which specify the names of the importers that have been subjected to sanctions for buying drone parts for the element in question [i.e., for Hizbullah]. Then the government representative proceeded to address my statements about the Litani River, which has become [a receptacle] for sewage due to the corruption of the political sector that defends Hizbullah's weapons, and said that this was an invitation for Israel to invade Lebanon…

"The government representative asked if I didn't know that, according to a government announcement, Hizbullah is a Lebanese resistance [movement] and there is a consensus about it. He said that criticism of Hizbullah at the present time provokes sectarian and religious extremism and serves the Israeli enemy, and that disclosing the location of Hizbullah military positions in Syria is a crime."

Rabah added: "My response to this superficial and mistaken legal perception is that the government announcement [in question] was a political document without any legal value and that the Lebanese constitution, which is the basis of the law… states that weapons must be in the hands of the Lebanese state alone, and that taking decisions on war and peace is the exclusive prerogative of the Lebanese parliament, not of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, whose representative [in Lebanon] is Hizbullah. I said that the organization has no right to function as a Lebanese party, given that, according to its 1985 founding document, it does not recognize the entity [called] Lebanon.[4] 

"I also informed the government representative that the Lebanese constitution grants me and every Lebanese [citizen] the absolute right of freedom of expression, that his political accusations against me have no legal or moral basis, and that the Lebanese constitution… is the supreme source of authority for legislation and laws…"

Regarding the allegations of collaboration with Israel, Rabah wrote that they are false and that, by every standard, Hizbullah is the one collaborating with a foreign element. "According to the legal definition," he wrote, "a collaborator is one who serves external agendas, violates Lebanon's sovereignty, smuggles drugs, arms and goods, is paid by a foreign element, serves destructive sectarian plans and distances Lebanon from the Arab fold, and the one that assassinated Lebanese prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri – according to the international tribunal, of course…[5]  A collaborator is one who hands over hundreds of [square] miles of Lebanon's waters, and its natural resources, to Israel. That is the element that should be accused of collaboration, not a man who belongs to a group that calls for [Lebanon] to be ruled by the law and the [state] institutions, and whose only crime is refusing to succumb to the 'oppressive master'…"[6]  

Makram Rabah (Image:

Lebanese Politicians: The Summons Was Meant To Sow Fear And Prevent Criticism Of Hizbullah; We Will Not Remain Silent

When news of Rabah's summons became known, Lebanese MPs who oppose Hizbullah called for his immediate release. They stressed his right to voice his opinion and rejected out of hand the allegation of collaboration with Israel. On the contrary, they said, Rabah strives to protect Lebanon from the "terror militia" Hizbullah.

MP Samy Al-Gemayel, head of the Kataeb (Phalanges) party, called to release Rabah without delay. Another MP from this party, Nadim Al-Gemayel, who is Samy's cousin and the son of Bashir Al-Gemayel, assassinated in 1982, said: "The era of the policy of directing accusations of treason and demonizing anyone who opposes you [Hizbullah] is over. Defending Lebanon and its sovereignty, which is violated by Hizbullah and its gang, is not collaboration but rather patriotism of the first order. Drawing a line for the terror militia that has hijacked the state and destroyed its institutions and economy is not collaboration but the noblest form of patriotism. Oppression and intimidation never have and never will silence the free writers…"[7]

Several MPs posted on their personal social media accounts a joint statement condemning the summons of Rabah and underscoring that "freedom of speech is a constitutional right. Summoning someone for questioning for a position or opinion," they added, "is an obsolete form of conduct. We condemn the summons issued to Makram Rabah, which was meant to intimidate [people] and suppress freedoms."[8]

Lebanese Columnists: Rabah Is The Voice Of Truth; Lebanon Needs More People Like Him

Rabah was also supported by some of his colleagues, who stressed that his statements actually reflected absolute loyalty to the Lebanese state, and also took the opportunity to come out strongly against Hizbullah, saying that it has taken over Lebanon and is leading it to the brink of an abyss in the service of its patron Iran. Criticism was also directed at the state institutions for allowing Hizbullah to do as it pleases and bring disaster upon Lebanon. 

Rabah Is A Brave Journalist Who Will Continue To Face Persecution For Insisting On Telling The Truth

Lebanese journalist Khairallah Khairallah wrote in the London-based daily Al-Arab: "The Lebanese General Intelligence Directorate's investigation… of our honorable friend and brother [Makram] Rabah indicates the extent of Hizbullah's control of what is left of Lebanon's state institutions… Makram Rabah tried to embarrass Hizbullah and its supporters, [so] he had to be silenced and punished and [forced to become] part of the herd – [the herd] that Iran is manipulating as it pleases and leading to a tragic end, like the end to which it has led Gaza…"

Rabah, Khairallah added, is one of a handful of "honorable Lebanese" who dare to speak out "against the falsification of history and the attack on truth and common sense in [this] country, where Hizbullah refuses to hand the murderers of [Lebanese prime minister] Rafik Al-Hariri over to the law because they are 'saints.' Makram paid the price for being brave and objective, after saying to the Lebanese people what needed to be said instead of falling into the trap of the slogans that have brought Lebanon to its present state…" Khairallah wondered why, instead of questioning Rabah, the security apparatuses do not act to prosecute the killers of Hizbullah's opponents such as Luqman Salim,[9] Gebran Tueini[10] and Wissam Al-Hassan[11]

"The number of honorable Lebanese people who say 'no' to Hizbullah and oppose its actions grows smaller every day. These honorable people know that Lebanon is not a commodity to be bought and sold, and that defending it is a duty that must be performed. These honorable people, headed by Makram Rabah, know that the front opened up by Iran in South Lebanon will not help Gaza in any way. This front is nothing but an excuse that Israel will use one day, maybe even soon, to start a war against Lebanon, not against Hizbullah. This war will be devastating and will destroy what is left of Lebanon's infrastructures. Makram Rabah tried to warn [us] about this, instead of letting Lebanon remain hostage to Hizbullah and the Iranian plans…  

"Makram Rabah is paying the price of refusing to be humiliated and to be a hypocrite. He refused to be like those who violate the Lebanese constitution for their own personal ends. He simply refused to be party to the distortion and to the Iranian plan that aims [to harm] Lebanon – all of Lebanon – and its collective way of life. Makram Rabah is being persecuted and he will continue to be persecuted, first and foremost because he is a free, courageous and honest Lebanese man. He tells the truth as it is… He realizes that only the truth will save Lebanon and that there will never be an alternative to going back to the language of common sense, even if the Iranian occupation has cost Lebanon dearly and will continue to do so."[12]

This Is Arbitrary Persecution; Lebanon Today Is Not A State

Columnist Ali Hamada wrote in a similar vein in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar: "Nothing justifies the persecution of the academic Dr. Makram Rabah by the security apparatuses and judiciary in an attempt to harass him and in response to the brave stance he took against Hizbullah. An examination of all the reasons for his investigation convinced us even more that his persecution is arbitrary and is meant to suppress the free expression in Lebanon of opinions against Hizbullah and against the resistance axis …

"It's important for the Lebanese public to understand that what the country needs more than anything else is courageous national voices that do not compromise in [defending] the state and are not afraid of the illegal weapons…"

Hamada warned that the excessive use of the judiciary, which Hizbullah seeks to control, may increase the division among the Lebanese people. He also criticized the Lebanese government for backing Hizbullah as it drags Lebanon into a war of attrition that may end up destroying the country. In today's Lebanon, he said, a minority represented by Hizbullah essentially controls the fate of the entire country, "using its force to employ violence against the Lebanese people and subdue them… Today Lebanon has no state, no rule and no government, nor even any real legitimacy, since the institutions are rotten and the government is held hostage by petty greed and ambitions…"

Hamada also warned about "continuing to jeopardize Lebanon's security and fate for the sake of the 'unity of the fronts,'[13] which will once again end in the destruction of the country or at least the concept of a single [united] Lebanon… Today there is a large gap between the plan of the [Hizbullah] militia and what millions of Lebanese [want]. It's time to tell the truth as it is."[14]

Rabah Voiced The Opinion Of Hundreds Of Thousands In Lebanon

Unlike Khairallah, who wrote that Rabah belongs to a minority of people who dare to come out against Hizbullah, Tony Francis, a columnist for Nidaa Al-Watan

Lebanese daily, wrote that Rabah's summons was "a summons issued to most of the Lebanese people," because "there are hundreds of thousands of simple citizens who speak like him and say what can [no longer] be said about a certain party, about Hizbullah's policy and its war with Israel, about the corruption of various leaders who belong to the other sect and about the agreement between the militias and corrupt [leaders] to undermine the Lebanese constitution, the presidency and the legal institutions, as well as Lebanon's young people and its abilities, resources and future." He added that "Rabah did nothing but shed light on these facts, and he was summoned for questioning… He did not evade [it], as other 'officials' did when they trampled the law and the legal system, but followed the path he believes in…"[15]


[1] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 18, 2024.

[2], March 22, 2024.

[3] On criticism of Hizbullah in Lebanon for opening up the front vis-à-vis Israel, see MEMRI Reports:

Special Dispatch No. 11142 - Lebanese Journalist: Hizbullah Is Dragging Lebanon Into A War With Israel And Endangering The Lives Of The Lebanese With The Government's Cooperation, February 22, 2024; Special Dispatch No. 11053 - Hizbullah Facing Criticism In Lebanon For Firing Rockets From South Lebanon Villages, Thus Endangering Their Residents And Forcing Them To Leave, January 2, 2024; Special Dispatch No. 11014, Lebanese Shi'ites: War With Israel Will Destroy Lebanon, Serve Iran, December 13, 2023.

[4] The reference is to the "Open Letter to the Oppressed People in Lebanon and the World" issued by Hizbullah on February 16, 1985, in which it declared its establishment and set out its principles and goals. This document stated, among other things, that Hizbullah is committed to the directives of Iran's Supreme Leader and opposes Lebanon's "current regime," which is "a product of the global arrogance" (i.e., the U.S.) and "an oppressive mechanism" that no reform can fix, and therefore "there is no choice but to change it from the ground up." See Augustis Richard Norton, Amal and the Shiʻa: Struggle for the Soul of Lebanon, translated by Ghassan Al-Hajj Abdullah., 1988.

[5] Al-Hariri was killed by a car bomb on February 14, 2005. On August 18, 2020, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which investigated the assassination and prosecuted the suspects, convicted Hizbullah official Salim Ayyash of involvement in it. Three other Hizbullah members were acquitted for lack of evidence., August 18, 2020.

[6] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), March 20, 2024.

[7] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 18, 2024.

[8] Nidaa Al-Watan (Lebanon), March 18, 2024.

[9] Salim was a Shi'ite Lebanese activist and journalist known as a fierce opponent of Hizbullah. In February 2021 he was found shot in his car in South Lebanon, Hizbullah's stronghold. Many in the country blamed this organization for his death, but it denied the accusation. Several days after the murder, Ibrahim Al-Amin, chief editor of the pro-Hizbullah daily Al-Akhbar, wrote that Salim was a collaborator with the West and with Hizbullah's enemies. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9220, Hizbullah Supporters, Opponents Exchange Blows Over Assassination Of Shi'ite Lebanese Activist Lokman Slim, March 9, 2021.

[10] Tueini, a Lebanese MP and editor of the Al-Nahar daily, was killed by a bomb planted in his car in December 2021.

[11] Al-Hassan headed the Information Branch of Lebanon's Internal Security Forces. Before this he was head of Rafik Al-Hariri's security team. He was assassinated in October 2012, apparently for his role in an investigation into the smuggling of explosives from Syria into Lebanon in which the heads of the Syrian regime, as well as its allies in Lebanon, were implicated.

[12] Al-Arab (London), March 19, 2024.

[13] "The unity of the fronts" is a concept Iran has been promoting in recent years by means of its proxies, headed by Hizbullah, according to which an attack on one member of the resistance axis will be met with a response from all the other members as well. In a speech he delivered in May 2021 to mark the anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon, and following a round of fighting between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah called to establish a deterrence equation according to which any Israeli "threat to Jerusalem" would spark a regional war involving all the resistance movements., May 26, 2021.

[14] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), March 19, 2024.

[15] Nidaa Al-Watan (Lebanon), March 19, 2024.

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