Somewhere about 110 miles to the north of me sit children, teenagers and young men in school. It’s not just any school. This institution brings together some of the greatest talent in the country and the world. Moreover, like any leading academic institution, it exports the knowledge gleaned within its wall to all corners of the globe. All that want to learn about this school’s specialty want to be here to learn from the best, from the masters. In fact, the influence of this school is so prominent that the school draws foreign leaders to praise its accomplishments, its teachers and its students.


Welcome to Lebanon, home of Jihad University.

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No, I’m not writing the brochure for this wonderful school. These praises come from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon, which sits on Israel’s northern border. Last Wednesday, as Ahmadinejad received an honorary doctorate in political science from Lebanese University, he proclaimed Lebanon a “university of jihad.” Ahmadinejad seemed to be getting in touch with his softer side, taking a break from his predictions of Israel''s and the West’s inevitable demise, as he gloated about his country’s connection with Lebanon. These countries, he said, are "two nations that love each other and have much in common," primarily the fight against Israel. To be clear, when he refers to the Lebanese-Iranian relationship, he means the Hizbullah-Iran relationship. It’s either a recognition of Hizbullah’s stranglehold on the country, or an expression of hope that Hezbollah will solidify its death-grip.



I found Ahmadinejad’s comments about Jihad University (JU) interesting for two reasons. First, if I was a Lebanese citizen that opposes Hizbullah and Iran''s influence in my country, I’d be really pissed. There are many in that country that are not happy about this dictator’s visit in the first place. But now this guy comes into town and calls Beirut, the “Paris of the Middle East," a “university of jihad." That’s like someone coming to New York, and saying at the end of their trip, “wow, you guys sure have some big subway rats.” Hizbullah has infested Lebanon, and their influence continues to grow. Soon the "Paris of the Middle East" will become the "Tehran of the Levant."


Ahmadinejad values what he sees as Lebanon’s best cultural export: terrorism. After all, Hizbullah is an Iranian creation and its baby. This was a victory lap for Ahmadinejad as Iran has a major foothold in Lebanon via Hizbullah. Even those that were opposed to his visit couldn’t really do anything about it. Not only did Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah come out of hiding to meet Ahmadinejad, but he was greeted by Lebanese president Michael Suleiman with an honor guard. Seeing photos of Ahmadinejad’s trip around the country reminded me of seeing the Nazis march through various European cities with thousands of sympathizers cheering on their “liberators." Those Lebanese will soon find that the Iranians are their unsympathetic overlords, and their control of the country means more of the same old colonial conquest of Lebanon, and a bleaker future for that country and the region as a whole.


The other part of Ahmadinejad’s statements that I found interesting on a personal level is that the same day he was lauding Lebanon as a center for terrorism education, I started to take my first class at IDC Herzliya in pursuit of my master’s in counterterrorism. So, as Ahmadinejad was busy getting his terrorist class in order, I started my studies on how to stop the spread of his ideology and “education."


One day Ahmadinejad’s students will graduate from Jihad University, and I will also get my master’s, and we’ll all start looking for work after school. I’ll do my best to make sure JU’s students have a hard time finding a job. Unfortunately, with Iran’s help, they won’t.


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