More than 1,500 people have thrown their weight behind a Jewish News campaign calling on Theresa May to outlaw displays of support for Hezbollah, as those who lost loved ones at the hands of the terror group backed the initiative.
The Zionist Federation and Jewish News launched a petition urging the new prime minister and home secretary to make it clear that any repeat of scenes at the Al Quds Day rally three weeks ago when flags were openly waved on the streets of London will not be tolerated.
“This is simply unacceptable,” the change.org petition launched three weeks ago reads. “Hezbollah are an internationally recognised terrorist organisation. They are unashamedly anti-Semitic, reject Israel’s right to exist, and are linked to numerous war crimes and acts of violence against civilians.”
The campaign has been backed by the IDF Widows and Orphans Organisation, hundreds of whose members lost loved ones at the hands of Hezbollah.
Sharon Yahav, who was left to bring up two children after her husband Captain Nati Yahav and eight of his soldiers were directly hit by Hezbollah mortar fire during the Second Lebanon War, said: “Europe needs to wake-up before it’s too late, the struggle faced in Israel is the same global struggle against Islamist terrorism. I am all for freedom of expression, however expressing support for an international terror organisation should be unacceptable and illegal everywhere. This must be stopped, we can’t allow this people to march freely with impunity.”
Hezki Farkash, who treated civilians as a ZAKA volunteer during the Second World war, said: “I cannot understand how the flag of a group which murders innocent civilians is allowed to fly in London. The sight takes me back to that time. It’s frightening.”
The Community Security Trust also this week reiterated its long-standing calls for the flag to be outlawed after the Berlin Senator of the Interior banned them from the Al Quds rally in Germany in June.
“Hezbollah poses a threat to Jews and Israeli citizens everywhere and has repeatedly targeted civilians throughout the world. That is why when someone flies the flag in London, or in any city, as CST has long argued, it is incitement against Jews and should contravene anti-terror legislation.” It pointed to a catalogue of attacks blamed on Hezbollah including the truck bomb attack which killed 85 people in Argentina and the bombing of a bus of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, which killed six.
Pablo Ciappina, who was in Buenos Aires the day of the attack, said seeing flags openly displayed in London made him “sick to my stomach”. He said: “I remember that day. Everyone kept quiet in the area where the bombing occurred so that the emergency services could hear the screams of the people were still alive and buried under the rubble.”
When home secretary, May suggested that such acts could fall under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and arrests were made during the visit of Benjamin Netanyahu last year. However Jewish News revealed ahead of this year’s Al Quds event that no charges were forthcoming.
The confusion appears to centre on the fact the armed wing of Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist group while the political wing is not, yet the two elements share the same flag. The home office has said “the context and manner in which the flag is displayed must demonstrate that it is specifically in support of the proscribed elements of the group”.
The home office’s hate crime action plan, published last week, included a pledge to work with the police to create a “database of symbols, slogans and flags that may be illegal because the organisations that use them are proscribed or incite hatred. This is one of the recommendations made by the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism following its inquiry (February 2015) into the impact of the Gaza conflict on UK Jewish communities”.
You can sign the petition by clicking on the following link: