Richard Verber

Richard Verber

by Richard Verber, Senior Vice-President, Board of Deputies of British Jews

THIS MONTH the Arab League formally voted to label Hezbollah a terrorist organisation. In a region where murderous terror groups have killed thousands of innocent civilians, this was a small piece of welcome news. It also shone the spotlight on the United Kingdom and the European Union.

It is outrageous that although Hezbollah is considered sufficiently vile to be labelled terrorists by the Arab League (which voted 19 to two in favour of the motion), neither the UK nor the EU agree.

The UK and the EU make a distinction between the Islamist group’s “military” and “political” wings, banning the former but permitting the latter.

Perhaps there is a feeling in Whitehall and in Brussels that Hezbollah is sufficiently benign that we should be able to sit around a table with them. Here are a few facts which might make them reconsider – as the Arab League has.

Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy with substantial logistical and financial backing from Tehran.

They introduced the concept of the suicide bomber into the civil war in Lebanon.

It is known to have an arsenal of more than 150,000 rockets and in the past it has not been shy to use them.

One of Hezbollah’s favourite targets is Israeli civilians. During the course of the 2006 war against Israel, it rained rockets down indiscriminately on Israeli cities, some of which hit Israeli Arab and West Bank towns too.

Hezbollah’s reign of terror extends around the world.

hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah's portrait is held up at a rally

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah’s portrait is held up at a rally

In 1994 Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing of Buenos Aires’ Jewish AMIA centre. They managed to murder 85 people.

Hezbollah were also responsible for the 2012 bombing of a tourist bus in Bourgas, Bulgaria which claimed the lives of six Israeli holidaymakers.

Hezbollah is a virulently anti-Semitic organisation. Not only is it pledged to Israel’s destruction but it regularly makes openly antisemitic statements.

Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary general, got two antisemitic tropes for the price of one when he said: “A few years ago, a great French philosopher, Roger Garaudy, wrote a scientific book in which he discussed the alleged Jewish Holocaust in Germany. He proved that this Holocaust is a myth.

The great French philosopher Roger Garaudy was put [on] trial… Why? Because freedom of expression extends [only] to the Jews.” Nasrallah has also been quoted as saying: “If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”

And just in case the British government feels that the political wing of Hezbollah is the kind of political movement it could do business with, this quote from a Hezbollah spokesperson outlines where the movement stands on the Middle East peace process: “Our goal is to liberate the 1948 borders of Palestine… The Jews who survive this war of liberation can go back to Germany or wherever they came from.”

And by using their huge arsenal against Israeli civilians, Hezbollah has proven repeatedly that they are prepared to back up their homicidal talk with lethal action.

It is not only Israelis who are the target for Hezbollah. In support of President Assad’s murderous regime in Syria, Hezbollah have slaughtered civilians wantonly.

The Arab League says enough is enough.

But at anti-Israel demonstrations in the UK we have the sickening spectacle of protesters waving Hezbollah flags with impunity. And because the political wing of the party is not banned here, there is nothing to stop them doing so.

The UK government has rightly moved against Islamic State, proscribing the savages and outlawing anyone who travels to Syria to join its ranks.

Hezbollah should receive the same treatment. Its military and political wings should be treated as one and the same.

None of our elected representatives should meet or share a platform with them.

Their representatives should be banned from entering the UK. The Arab League recognises Hezbollah as terrorists. It is high time our government did too.