“The EU decision to ban Hezbollah’s ‘military wing’ is an important first step, but it is not nearly enough,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The distinction between Hezbollah’s ‘military’ and ‘political wing’ has been contrived—it’s a distinction unrecognized by Hezbollah itself. Without an across-the-board designation blacklisting the entirety of Hezbollah, this could prove to be only little more than a symbolic move without the power to significantly curtail the operations of the terrorist organization.”
After an investigation by Bulgarian officials confirmed Hezbollah was behind the bombing of a bus in Burgas, Bulgaria, one year ago, which killed six individuals (including five Israelis) and injured 32 others, the EU designation is an important, official acknowledgement of the terrorist priorities of Hezbollah. However, by distinguishing between Hezbollah’s “military” and “political wings,” the European Union has conferred legitimacy to the organization’s political operations, unless it moves forward and bans the political branch as well.
It is unclear what impact this designation will have on Hezbollah’s ability to carry out its terrorist atrocities. A partial ban will likely prove ineffective at preventing future terrorist attacks like the one in Burgas, especially since Hezbollah’s political leadership also directs the military and terrorist operations. With legitimacy within Europe, the political branch of Hezbollah can continue to raise funds, recruit, acquire technological training and materials, and broadcast incendiary propaganda through such media as its Al-Manar television station, all of which could inevitably serve to support Hezbollah-backed acts of terror.
“The European Union needs to ensure that this first step of blacklisting the ‘military wing’ of Hezbollah is just that—a first step,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Without a similar designation to the ‘political branch,’ Hezbollah will likely be able to continue business as usual, drumming up political and financial support across Europe unfettered. This designation is important, but, unless the European Union is willing to do more, it very well could be a feckless move.”