Call for Australia to follow UK’s Hezbollah ban

Hezbollah flags in southern Lebanon. The UK will be banning Hezbollah in its entirety, not just its military wing. Photo: John Grummet/Dreamstime.com

AUSTRALIA’S peak Jewish body has written to the Prime Minister urging the federal government to follow the UK’s example and enact a complete ban on Hezbollah.

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said earlier this week the government would ban the group – considered a terrorist organisation by the US and Israel – in its entirety. The World Jewish Congress promptly called on other countries to follow suit.

Australia currently considers only the military wing of Hezbollah to be a proscribed terrorist organisation.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said that by listing only Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation as a terrorist organisation, “Australia has been endorsing a fiction.

“Hezbollah leaders themselves have openly and repeatedly declared that no substantive separation exists between its different wings,” he said.

“The organisation from its inception has glorified, promoted and carried out acts of terrorism, not only in Lebanon but around the world.

“Hezbollah is prosecuting a war of annihilation not only against the State of Israel but against Jewish communities everywhere. Hezbollah’s official television station, Al-Manar TV, disseminates antisemitic conspiracy theories, glorification of terrorism and incitement to violence.
“Australia should list Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organisation and cease all direct contacts with it.”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director Colin Rubenstein concurred.

“Australia’s current limited terrorist listing of Hezbollah’s External Security Organisation is ineffective and insufficient, as the government’s own intelligence committee reported in 2018. Treating the political and military wings of the organisation differently is not only making a distinction without a difference, but simply gives Hezbollah the means to evade law enforcement and financial sanctions.”

He said it remains worrying that Australians can legally send money to much of Hezbollah, and fly Hezbollah flags on Australian streets.

He continued, “Many of our key allies, including the US, France, Japan, Canada, Israel and the Netherlands, have long recognised this, and now that Britain is also following suit, Australia’s position on Hezbollah appears increasingly inadequate.”

GARETH NARUNSKY