OPINION: It’s time to ban Hezbollah and stop this parade of terror
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OPINION: It’s time to ban Hezbollah and stop this parade of terror

International human rights lawyer and Middle East expert Arsen Ostrovsky reflects on the urgent need to stop Hezbollah flags flying in London on Al Quds Day

Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer and Middle East expert.

As Londoners mark one year since eight people were murdered in the London Bridge terror attack, thousands of sympathisers of another terrorist organisation – Hezbollah – are set to proudly march through the streets of London.

Such unbridled parade of hatred and incitement to violence (‘Al-Quds Day Rally’) is nothing but a sheer insult, spitting on the graves of all those innocent victims of the London Bridge attacks and British victims of terror around the world.

Make no mistake about it, Hezbollah is a genocidal jihadist terrorist organisation, created, funded and instructed at the behest of the Iranian regime.

Hezbollah’s primary goal is not only the elimination of the State of Israel, but Jews worldwide. Don’t believe us? Just read Hezbollah’s ‘Manifesto’, which clearly states: “Our struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated.”

In 2002, Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Secretary-General, stated “if Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing after them worldwide.”

Since the conclusion of the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah has amassed over 150,000 mostly Iranian-made rockets, aimed at the heart of the Jewish state. Under Tehran’s instructions, it has also become one of the key backers of the Assad regime in Syria.

Hezbollah’s victims however have not been limited only to Jews and Israelis, with the Shiite terror group leaving a devastating Iranian path of death and destruction the world over, including Europe.

British citizens have not been spared from their attacks, with an estimated 1,000 British and U.S. servicemen being killed by the terror group during military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Arsen Ostrovsky

According to a report of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hezbollah is also actively operating on British soil, while undermining British interests abroad.

Which brings us back to the Hezbollah cheer parade planned for this Sunday in the heart of London.

Under any reasonable circumstances, this parade should not see the light of day. However, last week, London Police confirmed that they are powerless to stop the rally because only Hezbollah’s ‘military wing’ is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the British government, and not the ‘political wing’.

The Metropolitan Police Commander, Jane Conners, added although she “shares concerns” that the raising of the Hezbollah flag on London’s streets “may be construed as belonging to a terrorist organisation,” that “purely holding a flag does not necessarily incite religious or racial hatred.”

It should not take Sherlock Homes to deduce that the assault rifle emblazoned at the centre of the flag of an Antisemitic genocidal jihadist terror organisation might incite religious or racial hatred, or violence for that matter.

This week’s Jewish News front page asking why the Government won’t outlaw terror group Hezbollah

That the British government (like rest of European Union) maintains a distinction between Hezbollah’s ‘military’ and ‘political wing’, is simply absurd, given Hezbollah themselves have dismissed this separation.

Naim Qassem, Hezbollah’s Deputy Leader, has said: “Hezbollah has a single leadership”, reinforcing that “the same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel.”

One may understand Jeremy Corbyn’s reluctance to brand the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, after all, he does consider them to be his “friends”. But there should be no reason whatsoever for Theresa May’s government, staunch allies of the Jewish state and who are also fighting the war on radical Islamic terror, from doing so.

Generally, the main argument against proscribing all of Hezbollah a terrorist organisation has been that it could undermine diplomatic relations with Lebanon or destabilise the country.

However, countries with full bans of Hezbollah, including United States, Canada and Netherlands, have not seen their relations with Lebanon impeded, while on the contrary, intransigence in doing so, has only further emboldened the terrorist group, providing it legitimacy, while giving Iran a stronger foothold to carry out their destabilising and expansionist activities in the region.

Even the Arab League makes no such distinction, deeming the entire group a terrorist organisation.

Furthermore, maintaining this difference allows Hezbollah to continue fundraising and recruiting for its global terror activities, including in Britain and Europe, in the process undermining counter-terrorism efforts.

Britain and Europe have, rightfully so, refused to make any such artificial distinction with respect to ISIS. Fact of the matter is, both Hezbollah and ISIS come from the same radical, murderous Islamic roots with a pervasive indifference to human life, freedom and democracy – all values considered sacrosanct by Britain. Only difference is, Hezbollah is directly backed by Iran and its primary goal is the destruction of the State of Israel.

The Al-Quds Day itself was established by Ayatollah Khomenei in 1979, with the explicit purpose of encouraging popular support for the destruction of Israel, a desire reiterated only several days ago by his successor Ali Khamenei, who called Israel a “malignant cancerous tumor” that has to be “removed and eradicated.”

On January 25th, 2018, following a long overdue debate, the House of Commons passed a cross-party, yet non-binding resolution calling on the British government to include Hezbollah in its entirety on the list of proscribed terrorist organisations, including within the existing legal framework of the Terrorism Act (2000).

Ahead of the House of Commons debate, General Lord Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff of the British Army (2006 – 09), stated that “Britain needs to wake up to the threat from Hezbollah”, urging that “abandoning the false distinction between the organisation’s ‘political’ and ‘terrorist’ wings would go a long way toward ensuring British national interest and help avert a major new conflagration in the Middle East.”

This week, a petition initiated by the British Antisemitism watchdog ‘Campaign Against Antisemitism’ to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety, has garnered more than 10,000 signatories, thereby mandating a response from the British government.

Enough is enough. It is time to ban this obscene parade of terror!

Winston Churchill famously said, “an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.” Europe, including Britain, must end this appeasement of Iran and finally ban Hezbollah entirely.

  • Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer and Middle East expert.
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