Hezbollah Not a Terrorist Organization in the E.U.
On August 1 the European Union decided, again, not to put the Islamic Hezbollah movement on its blacklist of terrorist organizations. This decision came after Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack on Israel’s sovereignty—an attack that led to the kidnapping of two soldiers and the murder of three—and in the face of a letter signed by 213 members of the U.S. congress which strongly requested that the E.U. adapt itself to the U.S. list of terrorist organizations, on the logic that in order to move forward, bilateral cooperation is required. The consequences of this decision? Hezbollah is transformed into a legitimate organization that indirectly receives funding from the E.U. and can legally raise financial support through and with the help of E.U. institutions.
It is incomprehensible on what grounds the E.U. reached its decision. First, Hezbollah publicly supports groups that are currently on the E.U. list of terrorist organization such as Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Second, last July Hezbollah attacked Israel from within Lebanon’s sovereign territory, firing Katyusha rockets and mortars at Israeli cities and military border posts in order to avert attention from another attack in which a Hezbollah commando unit invaded Israel’s territory and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed three. This came after a complete Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territories in 2000, in compliance with a U.N. resolution. Coincidently, at the same time the G-8 summit was supposed to decide on further action against Iran’s nuclear program. Some believe that Hezbollah’s attack was ordered, or at least authorized, by Iran to divert the attention of the G-8 summit from the Iranian issue.
Third, Hezbollah’s ideology is inspired by Khomeini, the original leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. According to “The Hezbollah Program”, a document that specifies Hezbollah’s ideology, Hezbollah’s main goals are to fight against “western imperialism”, achieve the destruction of Israel, and establish Islamic rule in Jerusalem. It also supports the transformation of Lebanon into an Islamic state in the same spirit as Iran, which Hezbollah takes as the model of an Islamic state. In addition, the party glorifies suicide bombers as martyrs. It promotes violent resistance as a means to an end and teaches that “each of us is a fighting soldier”. This ideology—which includes anti-Semitic, anti-western and anti-democratic dogma—is indoctrinated in Hezbollah’s schools and kindergartens, which are free for all of Hezbollah’s Shi’a supporters.
Despite the fact the Hezbollah’s doctrine utterly contradicts the stated goals of the E.U., that is, spreading the values of democracy, respect of human rights, and the rule of law, E.U. member states could not reach a consensus about Hezbollah’s status. Not adding Hezbollah to the E.U.’s list of terrorist organization signifies once again the E.U.’s impotence in making difficult decisions. European Union member states have different interests and goals regarding the Middle East. In addition, some countries, such as France, need to take into consideration the reactions of their large legal and even larger illegal Muslim immigrant populations (recall the riots that took place in Europe and particularly in France after the publication of the Danish Cartoons). As a result, it has been almost impossible for the E.U. to act in concert on any controversial issue, especially if it concerns Islam. Even though some member states support harsher actions that might expedite a change, they must conform themselves to the least common ground of the other Member States who fears some short-term unrest.
Hezbollah is not the only subject where the E.U.’s concern for public opinion and short-term stability is put before long-term effectiveness, but it is one of the most clear-cut cases of hypocrisy. Despite the difficulties of keeping one another happy, member states should be able to agree that an organization so clearly against their stated ideals belongs on the blacklist. The recent crisis in Lebanon illustrates once again how the E.U.’s incoherent foreign policy has not only failed in promoting stability, but has also had other detrimental effects. The crisis also reveals how volatile the situation in Lebanon is with Hezbollah acting as proxy for Syria and Iran. If the E.U., together with its transatlantic partner, will not act to neutralize Hezbollah, we will soon find ourselves facing a Lebanon that cooperates with Syria and Iran and that poses yet another serious threat to Middle Eastern stability and to the world.