The reactions of the Iran-led resistance axis to U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital were characterized mainly by calls for escalated violence, in particular against U.S. interests. However, the response of Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah was relatively cautious and restrained. In a speech delivered on December 7, 2017, one day after Trump's announcement, he expressed support for a new Palestinian intifada, and called on the Arab and Muslim world "not to stand idly by" but rather to "offer full moral, political, monetary, and material support, and also aid with weapons, to the Palestinian people" – but did not promise that Hizbullah would be participating in this intifada. He also called on people throughout the world to respond to Trump's move by "posting hundreds of millions of tweets and hundreds of millions of positions on social media," adding that this is the duty of every man and woman worldwide and promising that it would have real impact. In another speech several days later, Nasrallah again stressed the importance of social media activism against Trump's move.
Nasrallah's statements provoked scornful reactions from Lebanese journalists and politicians, and from social media users, who claimed that he had transformed from an armed resistance fighter into a "digital warrior." They also complained that his reaction, as well as the reactions of Iranian officials, reflected their helplessness and lack of real concern about the Palestinian issue.
This report reviews the responses to Nasrallah's statements on Twitter and in the Lebanese press.
Responses On Twitter: Nasrallah Is Defending Jerusalem With Hashtags And Tweets
Lebanese Twitter users, as well as activists associated with the Syrian opposition, heaped scorn on Nasrallah's call for social media action, and the Syrians also pointed to the discrepancy between his restrained reaction in the matter of Jerusalem and his movement's armed involvement in Syria.
A Lebanese user calling himself "Dissident of the Party of Satan [a derogatory name for Hizbullah]" tweeted: "The villain from the Dahia [Hizbullah's Beirut stronghold] has screeched. The villain Nasrallah is calling on his herd to tweet against Trump's position on Jerusalem! Where are your missiles that can reach Haifa and beyond? Shame on you, villain."
The following day, the same user tweeted a Hizbullah flag bearing the Twitter icon and the slogan "Hizbullah are the Tweeters" (instead of "Hizbullah are the Victors"), with the comment: "Jerusalem has exposed Nasrallah's mercenary ways. This is the new flag of the Party of Satan [Hizbullah]. The screeching of the villain from the Dahia, Hassan Nasrallah, has confirmed what was [already] certain: [that] Hizbullah is the creation of the Zionist-Iranian alliance."
Lebanese journalist Jerry Maher, a known opponent of Hizbullah, tweeted the day after Nasrallah's speech: "The terrorist Hizbullah [organization] used every kind of weapon to confront and kill the Syrian people, but when it comes to Jerusalem they use tweets and social media to protest and resist! Hassan Nasrallah is soft on the Israelis but rabidly [violent] towards Sunnis!"
Shi'ite Lebanese journalist 'Ali Amin, editor of the Lebanese anti-Hizbullah Janoubia website, posted quotes from Nasrallah's speech under the caption "Nasrallah: Wage Armed Resistance in Syria, and Tweet for Jerusalem!"
Ahead of Nasrallah's second speech, Nadim Koteich, another Shi'ite Lebanese journalist who opposes Hizbullah, tweeted: "In Hassan Nasrallah's speech this afternoon, expect the announcement of an Instagram platform to reinforce the arsenal of resistance axis [weapons] for confronting Israel and liberating Jerusalem. We defend Jerusalem with the blades of our tweets."
Faysal Al-Qassem, a Syrian television host on Al-Jazeera, tweeted: "The new slogan of the resistance [Hizbullah] and the resistance [axis] is: "Missiles for Syria and Hashtags for Israel."
'Alaa Sunnoufi, who identifies as a Syrian opposition activist, tweeted in response to Nasrallah's speech: "Now we know why there was no retaliation against the Israeli [war]planes in the skies of Syria and Lebanon. The range of the anti-aircraft Hashtag Ra'd-1 and Hashtag Aqsa-2 missiles is not long enough."
Syrian journalist Majed 'Abd Al-Noor wrote on Twitter in a similar vein: "Breaking news: Tweet launched by Hassan Nasrallah in South Lebanon lands in Israeli settlement"
Syrian Twitter user Maher Sharaf Al-Din tweeted: "After Nasrallah demanded to tweet in response to Trump's decision, we are wondering: Sayyid [Nasrallah], why did you not tell your supporters to tweet at the Syrians instead of sending them to kill, slaughter and destroy?"
Responding to this tweet, a user calling himself "Hassan Nasrallah 5" posted an image showing Twitter icons bearing names of Iranian missiles (Ra'ad-2, Zilzal, Khaibar-3, Fajr-6, Sakher-4).
Lebanese Journalists Mock Nasrallah: He Wants To Liberate Jerusalem Using Twitter
Lebanese Journalist: Nasrallah Has Become A Digital Warrior, Attacking With Tweets And "Likes"
As stated, criticism of Nasrallah's speech was also expressed in the Lebanese press. On December 12, 2017, journalist Rashed Fayed published a mocking article in the Al-Nahar daily, in which he wrote: "The truth which cannot be camouflaged or concealed is that the Arabs are not the only helpless nation… The Persian nation [can] be added [to the list as well]. What Trump has done is to expose everyone's helplessness, the boasting of the resistance axis, and the conspiracy of those who support [the principle of] 'land for peace.'
"It is enough to ask: What can empty the Palestinian issue of substance more than the pronouncement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, [a pronouncement] that challenges the U.N., its decisions, and the peace plan based on two states? This is the greatest and most blatant crime against the Palestinians and their hopes since the Nakba [in 1948]. When Trump raised his hand and held up the document of recognition, the illusion crept into [my] mind that… this may be the chance for the resistance [axis to prove] its bravery and for Khamenei, Nasrallah, and Hizbullah [to make good] on their threats.
"However, the surprise came when Trump's position transformed Nasrallah into a social media activist who is adept at sharing tweets, 'likes,' and so on, while the chief advisor to the [Iranian] Jurisprudent [Ali Khamenei], Hossein Amir Abdollahian, revealed his astrological powers when he foresaw an apocalypse for the region. After the adherents of [Iran's] Islamic Revolution [endlessly] drummed into our ears that they were waiting for Israel to make a mistake so that they could destroy it, we [recently] heard the Friday preacher in Tehran, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, say that 'Iran is developing its ballistic capabilities so as to deter its enemies, and will burn Tel Aviv and Haifa if the insane Zionist entity tries to do something foolish one of these days.' In other words, Tehran is lying in wait [for Israel] so as to defend itself, not in order to liberate Palestine… Nasrallah, who only recently boasted that he has thousands of fighters ready to go into Syria, has forgotten that such a force could liberate Al-Aqsa, and has become a digital warrior dispensing advice about how to hit the Zionists of Jerusalem with tweets and text messages.
"The reactions of the resistance [axis] show us that neither [Qassem] Soleimani, [the commander of Iran's Qods Force, which is part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)], nor [the Commander of the IRGC itself, Mohammad Ali] Al-Jaafari, nor Abdollahian, nor [Iran's Supreme Leader], Imam Khamenei himself, has the capability to confront [the U.S. and Israel] with anything other than whining and cries of 'Death to America.' [This,] while their adopted son in Lebanon [Nasrallah] lashes out with his tongue and dispenses advice all around, and calls for war by means of a new Palestinian intifada that has absolutely no need of his approval in order to start up. And as for his speeches since 2006 about the [anticipated] confrontation [with Israel] and about the readiness [of his organization for it], he has basically put an end to that.
"The main thing that stands out in the reactions to Trump's announcement... is that the accusations of negligence, sycophancy, defeatism, and surrender that Tehran has leveled at others constitute the 'sole act of resistance' carried out by the so-called 'resistance axis,' from the Dahia to Tehran…"
Lebanese Daily: Nasrallah Unveils A New Weapon With Which To Liberate Palestine – Social Media
Journalist Walid Hussein wrote in the Lebanese online daily Al-Mudun: "Nasrallah's speech seems to have come from a different era, namely the era of civic activism, but using modern means, namely social media. We aren't used to this kind of thing from the armed Hizbullah, which declares openly that it has more than a hundred thousand missiles with which to destroy the oppressive entity [Israel], and is always promising the 'believers' [to do so]. But Nasrallah's speech unveiled a new weapon with which to realize the dream of regaining Palestine from the river to the sea. He called on Lebanese and Arab citizens… to express condemnation of Donald Trump's decision... on social media... Nasrallah's speech was met with an unprecedented wave of jokes from social media activists…
"The great paradox here doesn't lie [only] in the fact that [Hizbullah] availed itself of the help of the [Iranian IRGC's] Qods Force, which is armed to the teeth, in order to 'liberate' Syria, but made do with the weapons of demonstrations and tweets in order to liberate Jerusalem… The paradox [also lies in the fact that an organization like] Hizbullah called for the use of this non-violent weapon. [Also,] Twitter and Facebook have been blocked to users in Iran since 2009, after the protests in response to the election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad… Will Nasrallah's speech be the trigger for the [re-]opening of the virtual space to the Iranians, so that they will be able to take part in the virtual campaign to liberate Jerusalem, so long as it is not yet time to [launch] Khaibar, Ra'ad, and Shehab missiles? Or perhaps [these sites] will remain blocked [in Iran], while the missiles remain in storage, waiting 'for the right place and time?'…
"There is additional significance to the weapon of tweets: it has put Hizbullah in the same place as the Arab officials whom it criticizes. Hizbullah has long criticized these [officials] for their negligence and for making do with condemnations and declarations that do not lead to the regaining of Jerusalem… Will the Hizbullah tweets be different from those of the Arab League, for example, which condemns 'the manipulation of the status of Jerusalem that leads to instability in the region'? Does Nasrallah believe that the tweets from his public will be more 'destructive?'"
Head Of The Independent Nasserite Movement (INM) In Lebanon: Twitter And Facebook Are Nasrallah's Missiles
Dr. Ziad Al-'Ajouz, who heads the Leadership Council of the Independent Nasserite Movement (INM), leveled similar criticism at Nasrallah in an interview with the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, in which he said: "Nasrallah's false claims that his weapons are intended for confrontation with the Zionist enemy have collapsed. He [apparently] believes that the road to Jerusalem passes through Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Yemen. He is laughing in the face of the world and of our peoples. When he had to express a serious position [about the means] to actualize his declaration about the defense of Jerusalem after U.S. President Trump recognized it as the capital of the Zionist entity, Hassan Nasrallah declared that today the defense of Jerusalem is to be carried out through demonstrations and through opposing [Trump's step] on social media. Twitter and Facebook have become Nasrallah's missiles for the liberation of Jerusalem, while his ballistic missiles are reserved for attacks on Arab cities. The great plot against the Arabs has thus been exposed. Is there any greater moral [of this story] or evidence [to be deduced]?"
 On reactions to Trump's announcement across the Arab world, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No.7217,
Reactions To U.S. President Trump's Jerusalem Announcement: Hamas, Resistance Axis Call For Violence, Attacks On U.S. Interests; Palestinian Authority, Moderate Arab Countries Express Restrained Condemnation, Hope For Retraction, December 10, 2017; for Iranian reactions to Trump's announcement, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No.7230, Reactions In Iran To Trump's Recognition Of Jerusalem As Israel's Capital: Incitement To Violence, Calls To Revive Intifada And Destroy Israel, December 15, 2017.
 Almanar.com.lb, December 7, 2017.
 Almanar.com.lb, December 11, 2017.
 An allusion to Nasrallah's speech during the 2006 Lebanon-Israel war, in which he said that his organization's missiles could reach Haifa and "even way, way beyond Haifa."
 Twitter.com/no_hizbollah, December 7, 2017.
 Twitter.com/no_hizbullah, December 8, 2017.
 Twitter.com/Jerrymahers, December 8, 2017.
 Twitter.com/alyalamine, December 8, 2017.
 Twitter.com/NadimKoteich, December 11, 2017.
 Twitter.com/Kasimf, December 7, 2017.
 Twitter.com/AlaaSannoufi, December 8, 2017.
 Twitter.com/majed_adbalnoor, December 8, 2017.
 A title of honor denoting people accepted as descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.
 Twitter.com/mahersharafeddi, December 7, 2017.
 Twitter.com/HasanNasrAllah5, December 8, 2017.
 The reference is to the Arab Peace Initiative, which was unanimously accepted at the 2002Arab League summit in Beirut, and endorsed by other Islamic countries as well.
 Al-Nahar (Lebanon), December 12, 2017.
 Al-Mudun (Lebanon), December 8, 2017.
 Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), December 16, 2017.