Jewish World Review March 4, 2013/ 22 Adar, 5773
Europe's Hezbollah cowardice
By Jeff Jacoby
What would Churchill say of the European elites today who imagine that the best way to confront the threat posed by Hezbollah, one of the world's deadliest and most fanatic terror networks, is likewise to avoid any confrontation?
For years the United States has urged Europe to designate Hezbollah a terrorist entity. Doing so would not just acknowledge an obvious truth and call evil by its name though that should be reason enough to act. It would also strip away the fig leaf that Hezbollah's "military wing" is separate from its political and social activities, an ignoble pretext that has enabled an international killing organization to freely raise funds on European soil, recruiting supporters, rallying followers, and generally being indulged as if it were a legitimate actor in Middle East politics. "In Germany alone, some 950 people have been identified as being associated with [Hezbollah] as of 2011," reported The New York Times. "The group has always been treated as a benign force."
It is astonishing that anyone could regard Hezbollah as "benign," given its long history of murder, mayhem, and incitement to genocide. This year will mark the 30th anniversary of Hezbollah's 1983 bombings of the American embassy, the US Marine barracks, and the French military compound in Beirut, acts of carnage that left 362 people dead. Just last summer, Hezbollah carried out a bus bombing in the Black Sea resort city of Burgas, killing five Israeli tourists and their local Bulgarian bus driver. In the intervening decades, Hezbollah which was created by Iran's theocratic regime, and to which it remains intensely loyal has shed rivers of innocent blood.
9/11 accustomed most Americans to thinking of al-Qaeda as the quintessential terrorist organization, but prominent dissenters point unhesitatingly to Hezbollah instead. "To be honest," Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said in 2008, "they make al-Qaeda look like a minor-league team." In 2002, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage argued that "Hezbollah may be the A-team of terrorists and maybe al-Qaeda is actually the B-team."
So what can explain the European reluctance to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and shut down its fundraising and logistical operations? As in Churchill's day, cowardice and dishonor might have something to do with it.
"There's the overall fear if we're too noisy about this, Hezbollah might strike again," Sylke Tempel, editor-in-chief of the German foreign affairs magazine Internationale Politik, said last month as the Bulgarian government was preparing its report on the Burgas bus bombing. "And it might not be Israeli tourists this time."
The moral stench of that rationalization is almost as repellent as its stupidity. Yes, Hezbollah's foremost targets are Jews and the Jewish state it has always proclaimed the destruction of Israel as its goal but have Europeans still not figured out that while Nazis and the Nazi-like start by killing Jews, they rarely end with them? After 30 years of Hezbollah butchery around the world, can Europe still imagine that pretending Hezbollah is mostly "benign" will keep them safe? That if they feed the crocodile enough, it won't eat them just yet?
"The storm will not pass," Churchill warned Europe's appeasers. "It will rage and it will roar, ever more loudly, ever more widely." Trying to appease the unappeasable is always folly. Europeans were supposed to have learned that lesson from the Nazis. Must they learn it again from Hezbollah?
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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.
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