Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, wrote in a blistering commentary in Die Welt on Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration has no excuse for not outlawing the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah.
Grenell wrote that “The legal authority for a full ban of Hezbollah already exists. In November 2015, Germany’s Federal Administrative Court transferred its settled case-law on Hamas to Hezbollah. According to this decision, the entirety of Hezbollah was found to be directed ‘against the idea of international understanding.’ Among other things, it cited Hezbollah’s call for the extermination of Israel.”
Grenell added, “Germany’s Law on Associations states that such organizations can be banned by the Ministry of Interior, including ones that are domiciled abroad. It was on this basis that the Ministry of Interior banned the political and social activities of ISIS and al Qaeda. These same legal authorities can be used to shut down Hezbollah’s activities in Germany.”
According to 2019 German intelligence reports reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, Merkel’s government allows 1,050 Hezbollah operatives to raise funds, recruit new members and spread jihadi and antisemitic ideologies in the federal republic.
Grenell wrote: “If Germany wants to take a stand against the Assad regime’s violence in Syria and the export of that violence to Europe, Germany can ban Hezbollah in its entirety.”
Grenell, who has gone to great lengths to combat growing antisemitism in Germany and Europe, wrote: “According to the German government’s own domestic intelligence service report, Hezbollah sympathizers are meeting, organizing and raising funds in mosques and cultural associations in Germany. Recently released videos seem to confirm that terrorist propaganda in support of Hezbollah and the Iranian regime is being tolerated in certain German mosques.”
The Post reported last week that a Hezbollah center and mosque in the German city of Münster posted a video in December on its Facebook page stating that “We are accused of terrorism and are proud of it.”
Grenell also showed that Germany can proscribe Hezbollah’s entire organization as a terrorist entity and continue to work with Lebanon’s government. He cited the example of the US government and other countries, for example, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, which have outlawed all of Hezbollah and continue relations with Lebanon’s government.
Germany has merely banned the so-called military wing of Hezbollah.
Rainer Breul, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry, said on Friday in response to Grenell’s commentary: “I can only add that, of course, we have a great interest in stability in the region and also in stability in Lebanon itself. Hezbollah’s terrorist activities jeopardize this stability, as well as Hezbollah’s involvement with the regime in the Syria war since 2013. We are closely monitoring this behavior of Hezbollah. You know, there are already instruments that work. Of course, we also closely discuss the behavior of Hezbollah with our partners, with the EU, [and] with the USA. There is an ongoing dialogue on this topic.”
Amid rising Jew-hatred in the federal republic, Germany’s nearly 100,000-member Central Council of Jews appealed to Merkel to outlaw Hezbollah in May. The chancellor ignored the request of the German Jewish community.
The Arab League and Israel also classify all of Hezbollah’s movement a terrorist organization. Grenell noted the following authoritarian and totalitarian states have not banned Hezbollah: Russia, Syria, North Korea, China, Venezuela, Syria and Cuba. The ambassador also cited Iraq, a country that is largely dominated by Iranian regime-backed militias.
Benjamin Weinthal is a European correspondent at The Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.