THE PALESTINIAN OBSESSION

In the past few days, two very high-profile figures have spoken out about the dangers of anti-Semitism. Both Prince Charles and Pope Francis have expressed concern that Judeophobia is a growing problem in Britain and Europe.

In a speech praising the outgoing British chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, the Prince of Wales warned that Britain was suffering from an “apparent rise in anti-Semitism, along with other poisonous and debilitating forms of intolerance.”

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has condemned anti-Semitism, calling it unchristian. “Because of our commons roots, a true Christian cannot be anti-Semitic,” he said at a meeting with representatives of the international Jewish community at the Vatican.

These comments come at a time when anti-Semitism is running high in Britain and Europe. A new report, conducted on behalf of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, found that 26% of Jews in Europe have suffered anti-Semitic harassment at least once in the past year, while 34% experienced harassment in the past five years.

According to the study, around half of all Jews living in France, Belgium and Hungary are considering emigrating because they no longer feel safe in their respective countries. And it seems a safe bet that many of these frightened people will seek sanctuary in Israel.

Making Aliyah is a testament to the success of Zionism but it is also a sad indication that Europe has still not learnt to cherish its Jewish communities, even after the horrors of the Holocaust. But the decimation of European Jewish life will continue as long as the security situation remains precarious.

Over the past decade and a half, Europe’s Jews have witnessed a disturbing rise in the number of anti-Semitic attacks, often by Arabs who use their irrational hatred of Israel to justify their attacks. Assaults, murders, death threats, cemetery desecrations, firebombings, graffiti and even the bullying of Jewish children by their Muslim peers are all too frequent in contemporary Europe.

The rise in anti-Semitism in Europe has received little attention or sympathy because much of the abuse is carried out by Muslims under the protection of liberals who accuse critics of Islamophobia or racism. Far too often, universities, political institutions, charities, churches and media outlets provide a platform for radical Muslims and other anti-Semites to disseminate their hatred of Israel and Jews.

And there are many people – politicians among them – who are simply afraid to condemn Islamic violence because of fear of retribution. Left-wing officials in Bulgaria, for instance, have been reluctant to blacklist Hezbollah following the infamous bus bombing because of concerns that condemning the Shia militants will lead to a terrorist backlash.

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The driving force behind contemporary anti-Semitism is the unhealthy obsession with the Palestinians. This fixation usually involves prejudicial, stupid and sometimes vitriolic condemnation of the Jewish state, with absurd characterizations of Israel as an apartheid nation that tortures Palestinian children. This is little different from accusing Jews of poisoning wells or using the blood of Christian children to make Passover bread.

I suspect that Prince Charles and Pope Francis are both aware of the link between anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing but are reluctant to become entangled in a political row concerning Israel and the Palestinians. But perhaps they ought to say something because it is an inescapable fact that Palestinianism, which seeks to divorce the Jewish people from the land of Israel, is the driving force behind contemporary anti-Semitism.

Indeed, it is Europe’s Jews who are bearing the brunt of the disproportionate focus on the Palestinian issue. The majority of Jews identity with the State of Israel, so they must be horrified when the Church of Scotland denies the biblical injunction that Israel was promised to the Hebrews, or when university campuses hold their annual hatefest known as Apartheid Week, or when The Sunday Times prints a cartoon depicting Binyamin Netanyahu building a wall using what appears to be the blood of Palestinians.

What is essentially a dispute over a tiny piece of land in the Middle East has become a huge issue at the top of the global agenda. I suspect that Israelophobes – whether they are jihadists, far-right conspiracy theorists or Presbyterians – have deliberately turned the Israeli-Palestinian impasse into a universal problem in order to justify their conflict with Jews. In any other circumstance you would be hard pressed to find a situation in which Islamists, neo-Nazis, socialists, liberals, radical Islamists and Quakers agree on anything. But when it comes to Israel and “the Jews,” all these factions share the same demented prejudice. And it is this prejudice which is harming Jewish communities in Manchester, Malmo, Toulouse and elsewhere.

And isn’t it amazing how many people say the most outrageous things about Israel and the Jews but deny they are anti-Semitic. This was a behavior something observed by British writer George Orwell, who noted that anti-Semites rebuff the accusation of anti-Semitism because deep down they know that it is “an irrational thing.”

Orwell also observed that anti-Semites are completely immune to facts and statistics. I could mention the fact that the 1920 San Remo Conference and the 1922 Mandate of Palestine endorse the creation of a Jewish homeland in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). I could point out that Israeli Arabs have the vote and represent their constituents in the Knesset. I could present a dazzling assortment of photographs of Gaza’s five-star hotel, bustling markets, luxury shopping mall and beautiful beaches, as well as jeeps and refrigerators supplied by Israel. But anti-Semites would still insist that Gaza is a prison camp.

But as Orwell said, “If you dislike somebody, you dislike him and there is an end of it: your feelings are not made any better by a recital of his virtues.”

I think Orwell makes an interesting point. Anti-Semitism and the hatred of Israel is an emotional or neurotic condition in which the anti-Semite loses contact with reality and cannot be swayed by logic or facts. Their emotional attachment to hating Jews and Israel must be maintained at all costs, otherwise their worldview will collapse. As the Swiss psychotherapist Carl Jung noted, “I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life.”

That is why I am starting to believe that the most vocal critics of Israel do not want an end to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Demonizing Israel and focusing obsessively on the Palestinian issue (without ever solving it) is politically and emotionally useful to anti-Semites who need the conflict to endure in order to maintain their own irrational hatred of Jews, Judaism and all things Israeli.

And as long as sensible people in the corridors of power in Westminster and Brussels continue to play into the hands of these obsessional and irrational anti-Semites, the security of Jews will become increasingly perilous and many will leave Europe for the safety of Israel or the US.

It would be unforgivable if Hitler’s dream of a Judenfrei Europe belatedly comes true because of the hysterical actions of Palestinianists and the weakness of politicians.

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NETANYAHU’S IRANIAN DILEMMA

In the absence of any real progress in stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has urged the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to take firmer action against the regime in Tehran.

“I think that it is important that Europe joins the United States and Israel and all responsible elements of the international community, and demand a cessation of the Iranian nuclear program,” said Netanyahu.

The Israeli PM expressed his concerns about Iran during Ms Ashton’s visit to Israel and Gaza. Her trip to the Middle East came nearly a week after the election of Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, who won more than 50% of the vote.

The new man in Tehran is considered a moderate but there is no evidence that Iran is about to change course. So it is no surprise that Netanyahu is warning the EU and the rest of the world not to ease pressure on Iran until Rouhani’s intentions are clear.

“The real test regarding the elections in Iran will be if Iran changes its policy and stops enriching uranium, removes the nuclear material and closes the illegal nuclear facility at Qom,” remarked Netanyahu.

But it is already evident that Rouhani is not going to roll over. In a press conference, Rouhani ruled out the possibility that Iran would reduce its uranium enrichment activity. He also said the sanctions are illegal.

Well, the sanctions are not illegal. But the sanctions are tough. Indeed, Iran has been the subject of several UN Security Council sanctions, as well as unilateral measures by the US and the EU, including asset freezes and trade restrictions on oil and gas companies. Several countries, including Australia and Japan, have also implemented sanctions. As a result, Iranians cannot make overseas payment and the country’s oil exports have dropped by a million barrels a day.

Despite hard-hitting sanctions, Tehran has pressed on regardless. Earlier this year, the regime unveiled plans to install a new generation of centrifuges, which are up to six times as powerful as the current generation. Moreover, it is fighting hard to extend its influence in Syria and Gaza, using Hamas and Hezbollah as proxies in its war against both Jews and Sunni Muslims.

II

It is entirely possible that Iran will have a nuclear warhead within a matter of months. David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security, thinks that Iran will be capable of producing a bomb by the middle of next year. Some analysts believe Iran could be nuclear-ready by the end of this year.

Strangely, Israel’s combative rhetoric has waned in the past few months. A strike against Iran’s nuclear installations seemed highly possible last summer. But this year there has been little appetite for military action. Perhaps President Obama’s reluctance to offer military and/or diplomatic cover is the reason for Israel’s unusual hesitancy. Or perhaps Netanyahu has failed to convince ordinary Israelis that a strike would be the best solution. Or perhaps it’s because previous heads of Israel’s intelligence community have said an attack on Iran would be unsuccessful and counter-productive.

So, should Israel continue to hold its nerve and see if sanctions work? And if they don’t, does that mean a precarious policy of containment or a situation akin to the Cold War in which both sides had the capability of destroying the other?

Still, Netanyahu is painfully aware that he risks going down in history as the man who let a tyrannical anti-Semitic regime get a nuclear weapon, which is perhaps the biggest existential threat to the six million Jews in Israel.

Aware of his place in history, Netanyahu may decide that a surgical strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities is the only feasible solution. Plus, there is the argument that the Iranian people themselves would be better off if Israel took action. Sanctions are affecting the lives and morale of ordinary Iranians and will eventually lead to the collapse of the middle class, thereby robbing Iran of its best chance to topple the Ayatollah regime from within.

In a situation where doing nothing only makes things worse, military action is probably the best course of action. It would alleviate Israel’s security fears and put an end to the crippling sanctions. Whether Israel will be assisted by the US remains to be seen. But if Obama refuses to lend a hand, then the Jewish state may once again have to take unilateral action to defend itself.

ARCHBISHOP WELBY: A FRIEND OF ISRAEL?

Justin Welby has been Archbishop of Canterbury for less than six months and he has already made the important gesture of visiting the Middle East. Hopefully, it is the start of a much-needed reappraisal of the Anglican Church’s attitude towards the Jewish state.

Starting Sunday, Archbishop Welby will spend five days touring Israel, Jordan and Egypt, including trips to the Western Wall, the Church of the Resurrection, the Temple Mount and Yad Vashem. He is also meeting with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, patriarchs and church leaders.

His first official trip to Israel coincides with the discovery that he has Jewish ancestry, a fact that was hidden from him until recently. His father’s family were German Jewish immigrants who moved to England to escape anti-Semitism in the late 19th century. The new archbishop says he is “really pleased” to discover that he has a Jewish family, including a cousin who is a rabbi in London.

Archbishop Welby’s visit is highly symbolic. It is a sign that he is willing to embrace Christianity’s (and his own) Jewish roots, which is particularly important at a time when many in the Church – especially on the Left – are distancing themselves from the biblical concept of the Jews as the people destined to reside in the land of Israel.

So is the new Archbishop an ally of Israel? Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad, thinks so. Israel and the Jewish people, he says, have nothing to fear. Meanwhile, Ed Kessler, executive director of the Woolf Institute, says Welby is “genuinely sensitive to Jews and Judaism” and “open to Israel as a Jewish state.” And according to a report in The Jewish News, Archbishop Welby is opposed to boycotts of Israel.

This is welcome news. But Archbishop Welby still has an uphill task when it comes to moderating the intemperate (and sometimes blatantly anti-Semitic) language and behavior of some of his clergy in the Church of England, many of whom have embraced an unpleasant ideology called Christian Palestinianism, which denies any historical or theological connection between the biblical Israel, the Jewish people and the modern State of Israel.

Indeed, it is a sad fact that the Kulturkampf (“culture war”) being waged against the Jewish state is spearheaded by several notable Anglicans. Retired Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu, for example, actively supports the boycott and divestment movement and has repeatedly called Israel an “apartheid” state. On a Christmas visit to Jerusalem in 1989, Tutu said “a description of what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank could describe events in South Africa.” He echoed these comments in 2002, when he spoke of “the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.” Enraged by Tutu’s anti-Israel posturing, US attorney Alan Dershowitz has described the retired bishop as a “racist and a bigot.”

Another Anglican bigot is Naim Ateek, former canon of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem and author of a tract called Justice, and only Justice, a Palestinian Theology of Liberation. Ateek believes there is “a great need to de-Zionize” sections of the Bible, which he considers “exclusivist.” Ateek is also fond of portraying Jesus as “a Palestinian living under an occupation.” In his 2001 Easter sermon he unashamedly spoke of “crucified Palestinians,” the “Israeli crucifixion system” and Palestine as “one huge Golgotha”. Obviously, he was drawing on the old canard of Jews as Christ-killers.

In 1989, Ateek founded the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (which has spawned sister organizations in countries including the UK and the US). Sabeel promotes the idea that Zionism is based on a false interpretation of the Bible and that it stands for injustice. Critics of Sabeel claim that the organization regularly engages in anti-Israel propaganda and seeks to delegitimize the right of the Jewish state to exist. The Anti-Defamation League accuses the organization of “generating hostility towards Israel” citing “its use of theologically charged accusations.”

In the UK, the most notorious (and vile) Anglican anti-Zionist is Dr Stephen Sizer, incumbent of an Anglican parish in Surrey. According to Sizer, there is “no evidence that the apostles [of Jesus] believed that the Jewish people still had a divine right to the land, or that Jewish possession of the land would be important, let alone that Jerusalem would remain a central aspect of God’s purposes for the world.” In short, Jerusalem and the Land of Israel “have been made irrelevant to God’s redemptive purposes.”

Sizer is a regular contributor to Islamic media outlets, including Iran’s atrocious Press TV. He has been photographed with Arafat and with Zahra Mostafavi Khomeini, the daughter of the Ayatollah. He has met with – and publicly defended – Raed Salah, a Hamas fundraiser who accuses the Jews of making Passover bread with the blood of Christian children. (There are numerous photos of Sizer and Salah enjoying each other’s company.)

Some members of the Jewish community regard Sizer as a proponent of Christian anti-Semitism. British journalist Melanie Phillips has condemned him in her writings, while British Jewish historian Geoffrey Alderman has criticized Sizer for hiding his prejudice behind an “academic guise.” Sizer’s views have also angered many in the Christian community. The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, who is Bishop of Manchester and Chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews, has referred to Sizer’s behavior as “disgraceful and unbecoming for a clergyman.” And Simon McIlwaine, the founder of Anglican Friends of Israel, has called for Sizer to be defrocked.

Despite some dissenting voices, there has been a systematic campaign inside the Church to demonize and isolate Israel. Several years ago, the synod or governing body of the Church of England voted to disinvest church funds from some companies which supply goods and services to Israel. The main target of the plan was Caterpillar Inc, which sells earth-moving vehicles to the Israel Defense Forces. (The IDF uses many Caterpillar machines such as bulldozers and excavators mainly for engineering, earthworks and building projects.)

More insidious is the Church’s relationship with the Ecumenical Accompaniers Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). EAPPI’s main function is to “bring international Christian volunteers to the West Bank to experience life under occupation.” EAPPI has focused exclusively on the existence of Israel as the fundamental cause of conflict in the Middle East. It ignores Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians and supports the right-to-return policy, which would effectively end Israel as a Jewish country.

But such concerns did not prevent the Church of England throwing its weight behind the EAPPI in an important debate last July. The Church’s governing body voted by a significant majority to support the nefarious aims of EAPPI. A closer look at the voting figures shows that clergy voted 4 to 1 in favor, while the laity voted 3 to 1. Even the then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who abstained from the vote, expressed his “respect and gratitude for the immense courage and dedication of the volunteers.”

He added: “There are some people, in their uncritical assumption that the government of Israel can do no wrong, who are clearly going to be very irritated by information being disseminated of the kind that EAPPI does.”

Did he not realize that the “information” disseminated by the EAPPI is little more than Palestinian propaganda?

But what is particularly interesting is the fact that Welby, before he became archbishop, also abstained from the vote – but now wishes he had voted against it. In a recent interview with The Jewish News, Archbishop Welby said: “On reflection, I’d have voted against. I wasn’t quite up to speed when I went into that vote. I think the situation in the Holy Land is so complicated that we always have to show we recognize this and I don’t think the motion adequately reflected the complexity.” He also told the publication that he should have used the debate to emphasize Israel’s right to “live in security and peace.”

It is slightly alarming Welby “wasn’t quite up to speed” on such an important issue, but at least he has been brave enough to renounce his earlier position. Indeed, his new position has upset some of his colleagues. Dr John Dinnen, the Anglican synod member who proposed the motion, said he was “sad” that Archbishop Welby “now feels he should have voted against my private member’s measure.”

Welby’s predecessor, Rowan Williams, did little to halt political Jew-bashing in the Anglican Church. Can the new archbishop do any better? Can Archbishop Welby succeed in portraying the State of Israel in a better light? It is true that he is not in a position to instruct the synod on how to vote in future debates. But his positive attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people may have a sobering effect on the Palestinianists within the Anglican community.

Furthermore, Archbishop Welby’s trip to the Middle East is a good opportunity to speak out on behalf of those Christians who are persecuted by their Muslim neighbors. So far, the Church of England and EAPPI have done little to express solidarity with Christians who are being harassed and driven out by Muslim fanatics in the so-called Palestinian territories, as well as in Iraq and Egypt.

Take the Christian village of Taybeh in Judea and Samaria, for example. The residents of Taybeh live in constant fear of Muslim gangs from the surrounding villages. In September 2005, hundreds of Muslims attacked the village, torching property and desecrating a statue of the Virgin Mary. In May 2012, a massacre was narrowly prevented after Palestinian Authority policemen drove out a gang of Muslim men who were intent on causing trouble.

Of course, the plight of Christians in Muslim areas is rarely reported because it is not newsworthy and it does not fit the prevailing anti-Israel narrative. But Archbishop Welby has a massive worldwide audience who might sit up and take notice if he publicly highlighted the recurring problem of Muslim violence against Christians in the Holy Land.

Archbishop Welby has only been in office for a very short time. But during this period he has criticized the UK government’s austerity measures and he has visited the new pope in an effort to bridge the gap between Anglicans and Catholics. Now would be a good time to repair the damage done to Anglican-Jewish relations and condemn Islamic violence. And if he can make the case for Israel and turn the tide of anti-Zionist opinion within his own ranks, so much the better.

MCCARTHYISM AT THE UN

Richard Falk is on the warpath. He wants the United Nations to launch an investigation into a well-respected NGO, which has had the temerity to expose him for his absurd and conspiratorial beliefs about Israel.

Falk, who is the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, wants the UN Human Rights Council to close down the Geneva-based UN Watch, which was established in 1993 to monitor the performance of the international body.

He blames UN Watch for damaging his credibility and shifting public attention away from his Israel-bashing agenda. The NGO is one of Falk’s biggest critics. It has regularly exposed his abuses and accuses him of “promoting anti-Semitism by blaming Jewish communities everywhere for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”

In a statement, UN Watch says Falk’s attempt to silence his critics is a type of McCarthyism.

“We call on UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon to denounce Richard Falk’s McCarthy-style attempt to have rogue regimes conduct a retaliatory ‘investigation’ of UN Watch, as a punishment for successfully exposing his gross misconduct.”

Unfortunately, Falk is in good company at the UN. The Human Rights Council has been conducting a witch-hunt against Israel for years. In 2006, the Council – thanks to pressure from an Islamic organization – voted to make Israel a feature of every council session. Between 2006 and 2010, Israel was condemned in 32 resolutions, comprising almost half of all country-specific resolutions.

Secretaries General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki Moon, the EU, the US and Canada have all accused the Human Rights Council of focusing disproportionately on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Falk is relying on the Council’s innate anti-Israel bias in order to restrict dissent and political criticism. America’s envoy to the UN Human Rights Council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, says Falk’s attempt to investigate and shut down a UN-accredited NGO could “threaten the independent voice of civil society at the United Nations.”

What Falk is doing is unfair and disproportionate. It is also cowardly and hysterical.

But then again, Falk is hardly a man to be reasoned with. Incredibly, he endorses the conspiracy theory that the US government was complicit in the 9/11 attacks and recently blamed the Boston Marathon terrorist attack on “Tel Aviv” and “the American global domination project.”

He supports Hamas, exonerates Palestinian suicide bombers and accuses Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza and practicing apartheid in Judea and Samaria. In July 2011, Falk posted a cartoon on his blog which depicted a bloodthirsty dog wearing a kippah. Most insidiously, he accuses the Jewish state of harboring “genocidal tendencies” and of planning a Palestinian “holocaust.”

Not surprisingly, his absurd comments have drawn criticism from all over the world. British prime minister David Cameron, for example, has expressed concern over Falk’s anti-Semitism. And Ban Ki-moon has described Falk’s 9/11 conspiracy theory as “preposterous” and “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack.”

What is particularly troubling is the fact that Falk is Jewish. This has given comfort to Israel’s enemies. When Israel protested over the appointment of Falk as Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, Mohammad Abu-Koash, a Palestinian representative, said it was “ironic that Israel which claimed to be representing Jews everywhere was campaigning against a Jewish professor.”

Falk reminds me of another self-hating Jew, the Israeli-born jazz musician Gilad Atzmon. Both men subscribe to ludicrous anti-Israel and anti-US conspiracy theories. Both compare Israel with Nazi Germany. Both share the strange belief that the Jewish people have little or no claim to the Land of Israel. Both are adept at using the media to spread their pernicious views. Interestingly, both men have been criticized by the Palestinians. Atzmon’s views are so repellent that several anti-Zionists have publicly distanced themselves from him. Meanwhile, Falk has been accused by the Palestinian Authority of being “a partisan of Hamas.”

How Falk manages to be both Jewish and anti-Semitic is something of a mystery. Judging from statements on his blog, Falk actually sees himself as a biblical prophet who is destined to shine a light on the “bloody exploits of the ancient Israelites” (his words). His characterization of the Jewish people and modern-day Israel as “bloody” and barbaric is a serious issue of concern. His view not only exacerbates negative attitudes towards the Jewish state, it runs the risk of legitimizing anti-Semitism among people who should know better. He is, after all, quite influential. As well as being professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, he is the author (or co-author) of 20 books and the editor of many more.

It remains to be seen whether he has the capacity to persuade the Human Rights Council to strip UN Watch of its powers. Let us hope that common sense prevails and Falk’s McCarthyism is opposed by saner voices.

EUROPE, HEZBOLLAH AND THE POLITICS OF PROCRASTINATION

The EU has never been good at making quick decisions and the latest effort on the part of some Europeans to block Britain’s proposal to blacklist the armed wing of Hezbollah is the latest example of EU procrastination.

The UK wants Hezbollah’s military wing to face economic sanctions because of evidence that it was behind a fatal bus bombing in Bulgaria nearly a year ago in which the driver and five Israelis died and thirty-two were injured.

But the newly-installed government in Bulgaria, as well as other European policymakers, are foolishly obstructing the British proposal amid fears that such a move would have negative political and security consequences.

Earlier this year, the center-right Bulgarian government urged European governments to take a tougher stance towards Hezbollah. But the cowardly Socialists, who are now in power, refused to back the measure fearing that such a move would expose Bulgaria to terrorist attacks.

Despite the fact that a lengthy Bulgarian inquiry found that Hezbollah was indeed responsible for the bus bombing, the new left-wing government is claiming the evidence does not make a compelling case.

“It is important that the decision be based not only on the bombing in Burgas because I think the evidence we have is not explicit,” said Bulgarian foreign minister Kristian Vigenin.

In addition to Bulgaria’s obstinacy, several EU policymakers are afraid that blacklisting Hezbollah will erode Europe’s influence in the Middle East. Italian foreign minister Emma Bonino, for example, says her government is concerned for “the fragility of Lebanon.”

This is absurd. Hezbollah has already destabilized Lebanon, Syria, northern Israel and Turkey. Backed by the lunatic regime in Iran, Hezbollah militants are busy murdering Assad’s enemies across the Levant and are trying to establish a foothold in the Golan Heights in order to attack Israel.

Luckily, the EU is not completely bereft of sanity. France has dropped its opposition to the British proposal precisely because of Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict. Indeed, the French government is outraged that up to 4,000 Hezbollah militants have allied themselves with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

And Germany has also reversed its position on Hezbollah, saying it will now back the UK proposal to ban the group’s military wing.

A decision over whether to implement the proscription is likely to be made within weeks. But in the meantime, Hezbollah continues to act with impunity, slaughtering Syrian civilians and acquiring conventional and chemical weapons that could be used against Israel.

But even if the UK does manage to persuade the rest of the EU to freeze Hezbollah’s assets, there is still the major problem of how to clearly differentiate between the armed and political factions of Hezbollah.

In reality, the political and armed wings of Hezbollah cannot be separated. Hezbollah is primarily a terrorist organization with political pretensions. The two factions share the same fanatical and anti-Semitic hatred of the Jewish state. And both factions are desperate to keep Assad in power. Without a Shi’a heavyweight in Damascus, Hezbollah’s future would be bleak in a predominantly Sunni region.

The easiest and most sensible solution would be to blacklist Hezbollah in its entirety. The Netherlands, Israel and the US have already done this.

A complete ban would hardly be an overreaction. Hezbollah is a very dangerous entity. Once it has finished in Syria, it will no doubt turn its sights on Israel and there will be more fighting, perhaps leading to all-out war.

And I have no doubt that Hezbollah will continue to spread terror in Europe. The bus bombing in Bulgaria, as well as the May 2011 attack in Istanbul and the plot to destroy Israeli targets and airlines in Cyprus may be the start of an Iranian-backed Hezbollah campaign to undermine security and morale in the EU.

As John Brennan, director of the CIA, said of the Bulgarian bus bombing: “[It] exposes Hezbollah for what it is – a terrorist group that is willing to recklessly attack innocent men, women and children, and that poses a real and growing threat not only to Europe, but to the rest of the world.”

In an ideal world, Hezbollah would be classed as a terrorist organization in its entirety and its assets frozen. Unfortunately, political posturing is more expedient than protecting human life, so it is highly unlikely that the EU will move for an outright ban any time soon. But I do hope that European leaders will at least do the decent thing and back Britain’s proposal to blacklist the armed wing of Hezbollah.

This in itself would be a step forward and would send a message to both Hezbollah and Iran that Europe will not tolerate terrorism.