Currently, New Zealand has only designated the military wing as a terrorist entity, which allows a loophole for Kiwis to materially support global terror.
The “military wing” is an interesting distinction, given Hezbollah’s own leaders deny there is any division within the organisation. Deputy secretary-general, Naim Qassem, declared in 2012:
“We don’t have a military wing and a political one … Every element of Hezbollah is in the service of the resistance.”Naim Qassem
He added, unequivocally: “We have one leadership, with one administration.” In short, Hezbollah is a unified organization, and its jihadist purpose is central to its existence.
The United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Israel, the Gulf Cooperation Council and Bahrain, amongst others, have not seen fit to artificially separate Hezbollah into any ‘wings’ and have designated the entire group as a terror organization.
In recent years more countries have taken the step of banning the organisation in its entirety:
- In 2017, The Arab League, comprised of 22 Arabic-speaking countries, designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization for destabilizing the region and posing “a threat to Arab national security by raising sectarian … and ethnic tensions” in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen.
- In March 2019, the UK put the group as a whole on its terror blacklist, with Home Secretary Sajid Javid announcing,
“We are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party.”Sajid Javid
Last month, Germany became the most recent country to proscribe Hezbollah, recognising that,
“The organization is therefore fundamentally against the concept of international understanding, regardless of whether it presents itself as a political, social or military structure.”German Federal Ministry of the Interior
The reason these countries designate the group a terror entity is clear – Hezbollah has been implicated in numerous terrorist attacks around the world and the organisation openly calls for the violent elimination of the State of Israel.
What is unclear is why New Zealand has decided to artificially separate the organisation into “wings” and provide a loophole for Kiwis to support terror.
Hezbollah’s activity in the Middle East in recent times has gained it no friends, either. Hezbollah acted as Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s backup army, contributing to the Syrian civil war’s horrific death toll. In Yemen, similar involvement by Hezbollah extended an ongoing civil war by supporting Iranian-backed Houthi militias. Iran-backed Houthi rebels expressed their appreciation last summer by donating $300,000 to the terror group.
New Zealand is not immune to the threat of terror, as the Christchurch massacre of March 2019 made so painfully obvious. Hezbollah supporters have made their presence known in recent times in rallies and marches. This should concern us all.
The Israel Institute of New Zealand has pointed out in the past, that as New Zealand’s Prime Minister seeks to lead the world in the fight against terrorism, with initiatives like the Christchurch Call, there should be no argument that an organisation that promotes and engages in terrorism and sees its organisation as one indivisible unit, should be banned.
It’s time for New Zealand to show some consistency and act on the principles it purports to uphold. We should join the growing chorus of voices standing against terrorism and proscribe Hezbollah as a terror organisation properly.