Analysis: Hezbollah’s lethal anti-Semitism

Norway, Austria slam Lebanon-based Shi’ite group’s Jew-hatred; EU efforts to ban terrorist group focus on anti-Jewish rhetoric.

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Sharif Karim)
Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Sharif Karim)
BERLIN – There are a great many reasons whirling around within European foreign ministries to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Compelling arguments include the Lebanese Shi’ite group’s role in supporting the Syrian regime’s murder spree against its population to the October car bombing of the pro-Western intelligence director Maj.-Gen. Wissam al-Hassan in Beirut.
From the Israeli perspective, the deeply ingrained, lethal anti-Semitism of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah organization provide additional justifications.
“Hezbollah is an openly and proudly anti-Semitic movement. Indeed, the movement goes out of its way to stress that its animosity toward Jews does not derive from its opposition to Zionism,” Dr. Jonathan Spyer told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, and the author of the highly acclaimed book The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict.
Spyer added that the Hezbollah “movement deputy leader Naim Qassem said that ‘the history of Jews has proven that, regardless of the Zionist proposal, they are a people who are evil in their ideas.’ Nasrallah, meanwhile, has said that ‘God imprinted blasphemy on the Jews’ hearts.’”
The Jew-hatred of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has drawn condemnations from European capitals over the past week. In a response to a Post query outlining anti-Jewish quotes from Nasrallah and Hezbollah, including “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I do not say the Israeli,” the Austrian and Norwegian foreign ministries rebuked Hezbollah.
“If this is what he [Nasrallah] said, it would fall into the category of anti-Semitic statements that we strongly reject,” Kjetil Elsebutangen, a spokesman for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, wrote to the Post by email on Saturday.
Alexander Schallenberg, a spokesman for the Austrian Foreign Ministry, told the Post, “From our perspective, anti-Semitic statements... are totally unacceptable, regardless from what corner or personality they come from.”
Hezbollah has transformed — as have most anti-Semitic movements — its anti-Jewish rhetoric into lethal anti-Semitism. In an email to the Post on Sunday, Dr. Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote, “Hezbollah’s anti-Semitism goes well beyond the offensive remark. It includes hijacking a plane in Europe and going up and down the aisle looking for passports with Jewish sounding names (TWA 847) and targeting expressing Jewish (not Israeli) targets, including the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994.”
Levitt is a leading international expert on Hezbollah and his new book, Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God, is slated to be published in 2013.
Spyer, the Israeli expert who has written extensively about Hezbollah and Lebanon, told the Post that “Hezbollah sees its struggle against the Jews and Israel as a continuation of Muhammad’s struggle against the Jews of his day, specifically the Bani Qurayza of the Medina area. As such the movement’s rallies often invoke the battle of Khaibar, in which Muhammad and his followers defeated and destroyed this Jewish tribe, executing the surviving men of the tribe and taking the women and children into slavery.”
The growing attention to Hezbollah’s anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial was featured in an expose in late October on the website Now Lebanon titled: “American ‘leftists’ whitewash Nasrallah.”
Now Lebanon posted a video link to a Nasrallah speech from 2006, in which he begins by lamenting that “Salman Rushdie hasn’t been murdered yet” and declares, “A few years ago, a great French philosopher, Roger Garaudy, wrote a scientific book in which he discussed the alleged Jewish Holocaust in Germany. He proved that this Holocaust is a myth. The great French philosopher Roger Garaudy was put [on] trial... Why? Because freedom of expression extends [only] to the Jews.”
European countries, both EU members states and nonmembers, pride themselves – and boast euphorically at times – about grasping the historical lessons of the eliminatory anti-Semitism between 1933 and 1945 and the indifference that led to the destruction of European Jewry.
Hezbollah’s lethal anti-Semitism is under way in Europe. The joint Iran- Hezbollah suicide bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, in July, which American and Israeli security sources say caused the deaths of five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver, is one telling example. The foiled July terror plot in Cyprus involving a man of Lebanese descent who holds a Swedish passport could have resulted in the deaths of Israelis and Cypriots.
All of this helps to explain that Hezbollah’s lethal Jew-hatred is a radical force that the EU needs to combat.
The writer is a European affairs correspondent for The Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.