17 July 2020
EU: When Will You Listen?
Dear Mr. Charles Michel, President of the European Council,
The European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS), the umbrella organisation of 36 Jewish student unions from across Europe and the democratic and peer-led representation of roughly 160.000 young Jews in Europe, calls upon the European Union to take action in designating the Iranian-backed, Shi’a militant group, Hezbollah, as a terrorist organisation in its entirety.
In the collective conscience of Jewish communities across the world, July 18th represents a time for mourning, commemoration and reflection, as we remember the victims of both the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, and the victims of the 2012 Burgas bombing in Bulgaria that were killed on this day in terrorist attacks carried out by the virulently antisemitic group, Hezbollah.
The 2012 attack, which took place on EU soil, killed six people (including five Israeli tourists) and prompted the EU to ban only the so-called “military wing” of Hezbollah, allowing the organisation to continue its operations on EU soil. For us at EUJS, and for many Jewish organisations around the world, we feel it is important to actively remember such incidents and commemorate the victims of terror. The 2018 edition of our “EUJS Summer U” programme – the biggest annual Jewish youth event in Europe, designed to celebrate European Jewish life, was held in Burgas, in part, as a show of strength to the community there. Included in the programme, and alongside the Jewish community of Bulgaria, we unveiled a plaque in the city which continues to serve as a commemoration to the victims of the attack and also as a reminder to us, of the need to oppose terrorism both in Europe and globally. Therefore, the EU decision to only designate Hezbollah’s so-called “military wing” as a terrorist organisation must be viewed as completely ineffectual as it does not remove Hezbollah from operating within the European Union.
This current position of the EU’s split designation of Hezbollah as “partially” being a terrorist organisation is not only dangerous for EU citizens but is also a wholly inaccurate representation of facts. This fabricated distinction between the political and military wings of Hezbollah is a distinction that Hezbollah itself refutes. The terrorist organisation has a centralised leadership, meaning that both the military and political wings of Hezbollah are governed under the auspices of one unitary council. It is therefore paramount that this fact is acknowledged by the EU and that Hezbollah be designated a unitary terrorist organisation without qualification.
Hezbollah is also an extension of the Iranian regime: an Iranian proxy that sides with the Assad regime in Syria and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. It is a terrorist organisation that continues to own a substantial military arsenal in spite of UNSC resolution 1701 and has used these weapons globally, including on European citizens. Thus, Hezbollah cannot be viewed as a legitimate political actor, its politics is one of violence, terror and antisemitism and we urge the EU and its constituent member states to formally recognise this.
Our European values of democracy and human rights, values which are central to, and guide the actions and words of EUJS, are under threat so long as Hezbollah is allowed to operate on EU soil. We must stand in solidarity with the victims of terror and ban the Iranian proxy from our soil, so as to weaken it and minimise its capabilities. When such values of human rights and democracy, founding principles of the European Union, are being disregarded by the EU itself, we have a duty to speak out and voice our deep concerns. Therefore, we call on the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in its entirety. The democratic and human rights-based underpinning of the EU will continue to be questioned in the continued absence of such a designation.
And so we ask this to the EU: when will you listen?