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Opening remarks to the Intelligence and Security Committee on Hezbollah

Dr. Bren Carlill

Thank you and good morning. The Zionist Federation of Australia’s submission and, indeed, the submissions made by the ECAJ and AIJAC all urge this Committee to urge the Minister to proscribe the entire Hezbollah organisation.

That we are here shows that you are willing to give such a recommendation serious consideration, and, for that, I thank you.

There is a wealth of quotes available from senior Hezbollah figures denying any distinction between its military, terrorist, political, business and social welfare divisions. Indeed these officials have derided the West for inventing such distinctions.

Violence is an integral part of the organisation’s identity, its fundraising ability, its ability to influence Lebanese internal affairs and Iran’s perspective of it as a key proxy.

Not only is violence important to Hezbollah, but its military and terrorist activities are designed to complement its non-violent activities – and vice versa – inside and outside Lebanon.

Now, there are real world consequences in proscribing the entire organisation. Most are obviously in Australia’s national interest, but some potential consequences are used as arguments against extending the proscription.

Will Australia’s relationship with the Lebanese Government be unduly affected? Will Hezbollah target Australia? Will Australians in Lebanon be harmed? Given Hezbollah controls Beirut airport, will we still be able to repatriate Australian nationals from Lebanon in the event of a serious crisis?

I believe that the answer to all these questions is no.

Beyond real-world hypotheticals, however, there’s the matter of principle. When any organisation meets the Australian definition of terrorism, it should be proscribed. Australia should not make it a practice to not list what is clearly a terrorist organisation because of possible negative consequences. What would it say about Australia if we shy away from calling Hezbollah a terrorist organisation if the reason we do so is because of the threat of Hezbollah terrorism?

Thank you. I look forward to answering your questions.