It took Europe a year before they, in their infinite wisdom, sanctioned “the military wing” of Hezbollah as if the rest of the Hezbollah body is beyond reproach and not tainted by terror.
Europe is desperately in need of an education in counter-terrorism.
There are nations in Europe, with reasons that are hard to fathom, who are unable to put the words “Hezbollah” and “terror” together, despite all the overwhelming evidence. Others, to a limited degree, prefer a selection process going through the Party of God’s personnel and defining them as terrorists, or not. It’s absurd.
That’s what happens when you have a committee of twenty seven members. You look for consensus and end up compromising. Compromise is, literally, a fatal flaw when it comes to defining and fighting terror, but this is precisely what Europe has done. Affirmative clarity is needed, not a watered down definition that satisfies bureaucrats, a political-correctness that defies logic and knowledge, and even the terror organization itself. Peoples’ lives are at stake here.
As I wrote in an earlier article, there is no “Good Hezbollah, bad Hezbollah.” You cannot cherry-pick parts of a terror regime, but this is what Europe has done in their infinite ignorance.
Under the chinless leadership of Catherine Ashton, the EU is blundering from one crisis to the next like a blind bull in a china shop, breaking all the rules by setting new, ineffective, and damaging ones, which cause immense damage, and achieves nothing of lasting value.
We recently had the Ashton-led directives that arrogantly call parts of Israel including Jerusalem, with its ancient Jewish heritage sites and its modern day scientific, medical, academic, and archeological landmarks, as being non-Israeli. This decision rewards a violent and rejectionist Palestinian society, with a decades-old history of terror, by punishing Israel and siding with them in a unilateral move precisely at the most sensitive moment in the peace process. It will certainly make the Palestinian leadership less flexible in any future Kerry-inspired peace talks with Israel. Why should they be more moderate than the Europeans who have just set the ground rules?
If that blunder was not bad enough, we now have the European Union letting Hezbollah off the hook by isolating what they call “the military wing” while keeping the rest of that hideous body intact. Their inability to call a spade a spade and Hezbollah, in its entirety, s a terror organization, leaves Hezbollah chief, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, laughing all the way to his Beirut bank. His “political wing” can continue fund-raising and recruitment in Europe as if nothing has happened. He, and his henchmen, will be considered politicians by the gnomes of Brussels, allowing Hezbollah to regroup, gather strength, continue their operations in Syria, and plan future operations around the globe, carefully avoiding Europe so as not to upset the Ashton committee.
If it wasn’t so seriously tragic, this EU foreign policy would be farcical.
What is to be done with a Europe headed by politicians and bureaucrats who are apparently so ignorant, or cynical, of what constitutes a terrorist organization, and incapable of coming up with a precise definition and effective sanctions. Why is it only Israel, the United States, Canada, and a few other nations, that can plainly see what is in front of their noses?
Israel and America are all too familiar with the Hezbollah leadership and infrastructure, their operating methods, and the inter-connection between all departments that implicate the organization in its entirety in the acts of terror from the political assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Beirut to the attempted assassination of the Saudi Ambassador in Washington, to the blowing up of the Jewish Center in Buenos Aires to the Bulgarian bus bombing, and the preparation of terror attacks on European soil, including in Cyprus, not to mention their involvement in the Syrian slaughter.
To imply that the “military wing” of a terror regime is to be sanctioned while leaving the “political wing” to operate is akin to the Allies blaming the Wermacht for World War Two while exonerating Hitler and Nazi Germany. This is as plainly absurd as isolating a “military” branch of Hezbollah while leaving Nasrallah and his cronies to continue their mayhem.
This was brought home this week when the Hezbollah Al-Mana TV channel revealed details of the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers inside Israel by Hezbollah that led to the 2006 Lebanon War. Sheikh Nasrallah said that he would never have ordered the operation had he known it would have produced the powerful and destructive reaction of Israel to that incident. This clearly demonstrates the link between the political ordering and approval of the terror attack and the military operation itself.
Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Naim Qassam, has said that the “same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel.”
This was confirmed very recently by Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Adnan Mansour, when he said that Hezbollah’s military wing was “an integral part of the political system.” He added, “Hezbollah’s political and military wing cannot be separated.”
What greater proof can there be of the link between politicians and active terrorists in a terror regime than Yasser Arafat. Arafat may be seen in myopian Europe as a charismatic leader, but Israelis saw, experienced, and suffered from his handiwork up close and personal. He was the godfather of modern terrorism, and the world’s first Islamic arch-terrorist. He wreaked death and havoc in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and even from his exile in Tunis. He was the patron of disparate and competing Palestinian terror groups. When he decided to launch his infamous and deadly intifada against Israel he ordered and equipped Islamist Hamas and Islamic Jihad on a murderous wave of suicide and car bombings against innocent Israeli civilians. He was a politician and a terror chief.
One would have thought that European politicians would have absorbed this truth firsthand that both politics and terrorism are part of the same body after Arafat murdered passengers at Rome and Vienna airports, not to mention the Palestinian attack on the Munich Olympic Games in a deadly assault against the Israeli athletes, ordered by Arafat and the PLO.
Clearly Europe needs an education on the definition, motivation, operation methods, and structure of terror groups, including Hezbollah. This includes their political and religious aims, recruitment and funding, their intelligence gathering, their training and equipment, their command and control structure with its intimate linkage between their “political” and “military” arms that connect together as one indivisible organization.
I strongly recommend that a team of top Israeli and American counter-terror experts make the rounds of European capitals and meet with politicians and think tanks in closed door seminars and conferences. They should start their tour at the European Union headquarters in Brussels and address their parliament. The education process should begin immediately before further retreat takes place in the war against terror.
The EU decision of sanctions against a part of Hezbollah was partly a product of cooperation between the Israeli Foreign Office and European governments. It must not stop there.
Detailed intelligence briefings by Israeli and American counter-terror chiefs, countries who are on the front line in the war on terror, will give European politicians, national security and legal experts, something substantial on which to base current and future sanctions against terrorist organizations.
There is much that can be done to help Europe on the right path of counter-terrorism. The EU lacks the bureaucratic infrastructure, like the US Treasury counter-terrorism financial capability, without which it will fail to damage Hezbollah in any meaningful way. Europe can learn so much from agencies that have close-combat experience with groups such as Hezbollah. Intelligence sharing, including understanding the roles and movement of operatives, and the dots that connect funding and terror, will go a long way to curtailing the ability of terror groups to inflict harm beyond their borders.
I urge European parliaments to learn from Israeli and American counter-terror experts why it is wrong to compartmentalize parts of terror organizations and, instead, understand why it is so vital to address the combined agenda of the organization as a whole.
Europe must be educated as to why Hezbollah, all of Hezbollah, is tagged as a terrorist organization in its entirety, and apply this to all other groups that incite and practice the death of innocents for political and religious goals. Simply isolating “the military wing” will not cut it.
Barry Shaw is the Special Consultant on Delegtimization Issues to The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College. He is also the author of “Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.” www.israelnarrative.com