Card-carrying Hezbollah member condemns group in TV interview

"With my own eyes, I saw people eating from the trash," he recalled. "We all support the resistance against Israel, but we are dying of hunger. One needs to eat in order to fight."

Demonstrators form a human chain during ongoing anti-government protests in Sidon, Lebanon October 27, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/ALI HASHISHO)
Demonstrators form a human chain during ongoing anti-government protests in Sidon, Lebanon October 27, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS/ALI HASHISHO)
Many people choose to remain anonymous when disassociating with a dangerous group like Hezbollah – or at the very least, do so with discretion. Doing the exact opposite, however, can create a far more powerful message.
This was the tactic used by Lebanese Shi'ite protester Hussein Ali Matar – a card-carrying member of Hezbollah – on a December 8 news broadcast in Beirut by Al-Arabiya TV. Rather than attempt to be discreet, Matar went out of his way to get an interview for the sake of getting his message out publicly.
In the interview, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Matar identified himself as a Shi'ite from Baalbek-Hermel.

"In short, I am dying of hunger," he said. "We are all dying of hunger there."
Finding employment is exceedingly difficult in the country's current state. "For any job I apply to, I need connections to either Hezbollah or the Amal movement."
Matar further explained that he has to support five siblings. However, he hasn't worked in approximately seven months, and is now two million Lebanese pounds in debt.
Taking out his Hezbollah membership card, Matar explained that he hasn't gotten any assistance from them.
"I – a son of Hezbollah – am dying of hunger," he said. "The others keep talking about the weapons of the resistance. Nobody is touching the weapons of the resistance. We all support the resistance against Israel, but we are dying of hunger. One needs to eat in order to fight."
Election promises made about Baalbek-Hermel weren't kept, he claimed. "They [the Council for Development and Reconstruction] should go to Baalbek-Hermel and see how the people are dying of hunger," he said.
"With my own eyes, I saw people eating from the trash," he recalled as he shook his head. "There are people in Baalbek-Hermel who eat from the trash. I saw it with my own eyes. People are sick and tired of being hungry."
When asked by the reporter why Hezbollah didn't help him despite being a member, Matar shrugged.
"Ask them," he told the reporter. "I knocked on their door a hundred times. I'm telling you, I went to the office of Hashim [Safi Al-Din]... He wouldn't see me; he sent his assistant. I told him that I wanted work, and he said: 'What do you want me to do? There's no work in the country.'"
As he explained, members of the Lebanese government earn a salary around $1,000-1,500 per month, further fueling public dissent against Hezbollah and the Amal movement.
But the Lebanese people have nowhere else to go.
"If anybody who is not from Hezbollah or the Amal Movement wants to help us, [they are labeled] a collaborator with Israel," Matar said. "I am talking to you now – and tomorrow they'll say I am a traitor, who betrayed the resistance and became an ally of Israel."
He then took his Hezbollah membership card and began pulling at it before biting into it, tearing it with an audible snap.
"Let them call me a traitor, I don't care – as long as I live in dignity instead of knocking on people's doors, looking for a piece of bread." Matar shook his head again before pointing upwards. "The high-ups should keep this in mind. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, I'll be honest with you. Berri, you've been parliament speaker for 30 years. You have billions of dollars and your children live in America. How come your children go to America and it's okay, but if we say a single word, we become collaborators?
"People in America are honorable, but when we, in Lebanon, are looking for our daily bread, [and] we are pronounced collaborators with America and Israel?"
He waved his arm back dismissively. "Enough. We are sick and tired of hearing that when someone is looking for his daily bread, he is a collaborator with Israel. Nobody is a collaborator with Israel. All the Lebanese are against Israel. The entire Lebanese people fought Israel, not just the Shi'ites."
The ongoing wave of protests in Lebanon have raged across the country since October, initially sparked by a proposed government tax on the WhatsApp messaging service before expanding to cover the widespread dissent against the ruling elite. Though Prime Minister Saad Hariri has resigned, it hasn't quelled the protests, as many have called for a total change in government.
Hezbollah has continued to crack down heavily against protesters.
Similar protests have also erupted in Iran.