Humanizing Hezbollah

Don't call them a terrorist group - it's an "organized militia."

From Lebanon, Sabrina Tavernise provides some favorable spin for Hezbollah fighters in Tuesday's "Hezbollah Fighters Limp Out Into the Light, Yet Manage a Bit of a Swagger."

"When the thunder of the bombs stopped in this southern Lebanese town on Monday morning, the fighters emerged from shrapnel-spattered buildings, moving with the confidence of men who felt they had won.

"Sometimes they bragged.

"'It was a small group, but we defeated America and Israel, both of them,' said a man driving a beat-up BMW and holding a walkie-talkie who identified himself as Abu Haidar.

"But mostly they were quiet, smiling and embracing one another, evacuating their wounded, their footsteps crunching in the glass and crumbled concrete."

Again, the Times refuses to call Hezbollah a terrorist group; instead, it's an "organized militia."

"Whatever the cost for Hezbollah to hold this mountain village day after day of Israeli bombing and shelling - the group does not disclose its losses - the fight is widely regarded as a turning point by this country's Shiite south and more broadly by the Arab world, which watched in fascination as the organized militia stood its ground against Israel.

Here's more humanization of Hezbollah: "And so it went across southern Lebanon on Monday, where fighters, ragged from days underground, took advantage of the first day of a cease-fire to come into the light, talk with one another and begin to plan for what comes next.

"In Khiam, they devoured Snickers bars, surveyed the badly damaged downtown, fixed flat tires and answered constantly ringing cellphones."

There is a marked contrast in tone between Tavernise's story on Hezbollah and her story from Sunday on a botched civilian evacuation in Lebanon, "Before Attack, Confusion Over Clearance for Convoy," which relays suspicions of Israel's motives by suggesting Israel was intentionally striking civilians.

"Israeli planes have been striking Lebanese civilians since the beginning of the war, hitting a truckload of fleeing farmers, a Lebanese photographer and a village during a funeral. Even so, Friday's strike still came as a shock: the convoy was more than 500 cars long and included a town mayor, an entire Lebanese Army unit and its own ambulance.

"The Israeli military said it had banned the movement of cars south of the Litani River, though the convoy was hit well north of it."