On Monday morning, the United States awoke to the announcement that after decades of gruesome bombings and terror attacks worldwide, the European Union has voted to designate the “military branch” of Hezbollah a terrorist organization. This unanimous decision was voted on by foreign ministers representing the 28 EU member states and should hinder Hezbollah operations across Europe. Although the distinction between Hezbollah’s “political” and “military” wings is tenuous and should be dismissed, this designation must be viewed as a success for those who work to combat anti-Semitism and promote peace across the globe. As such, the American Jewish community should welcome the announcement.
For those of us as the American Jewish Committee (AJC), this designation came none too soon. Over the past several decades, Hezbollah has singled out Jewish institutions and communities worldwide while orchestrating their attacks. Last July, Hezbollah carried out a bloody terrorist attack on a bus in Burgas, Bulgaria in which five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver were killed. Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) Building in 1994. These attacks, which both took place in Buenos Aires, together killed 114 civilians and injured numerous more. Furthermore, in 2006, Israel found itself under siege as Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets and missiles into the northern region of the country. Designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization serves to protect the state of Israel and the Jewish people worldwide.
For the past several years, AJC leaders across the globe have been working tirelessly towards this designation. We’ve engaged in direct diplomacy with senior officials of EU member states. We’ve published op-eds in major media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and El Pais. We’ve expressed the urgency of this initiative on the CBS radio network. And here in D.C., leaders of ACCESS, AJC’s young professionals’ arm, have participated in the diplomatic engagement that makes moments like this possible. From group meetings with leaders of European countries to substantive one-on-one conversations at our annual ACCESS Summit, ACCESS DC leaders contributed to the diplomatic advocacy that ultimately played a significant role in the European Union designating Hezbollah’s “military branch” a terrorist organization. As Nelson France, vice chair of ACCESS DC, remarked: “as an ACCESS leader, I have had the privilege of being in private meetings with several EU Ambassadors and Diplomats here in DC, and I can tell you, they are all familiar with AJC’s work on this issue.” This is global Jewish advocacy in action.
Alyssa Bogdanow serves as the Goldman Bridge Fellow for the Washington Regional Office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). In this capacity, she works primarily with ACCESS DC, AJC’s young professionals’ initiative in the Greater Washington area.