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Reuters and the Case of the Missing Hezbollah ‘Terrorist’


Tensions remain high in the North after the IDF thwarted a possible attack by the Hezbollah terrorist militia on Monday along the border with Lebanon. A Hezbollah cell, which numbered between three and five operatives, crossed the border several meters into Israeli territory and was identified by the IDF, which opened fire with machine guns and tank shells. Hezbollah has denied launching an operation against Israel.

The above paragraph is an example of straight news, without opining or commentary. Contrast that with this:

Please note the missing ‘terrorist’ in this Reuters Facebook post. This isn’t merely an oversight. The complete article doesn’t include the term ‘terrorist’ or ‘militant.’ Omitting this basic fact about Hezbollah denies news readers access to crucial information about its history, modus operandi, and connection to one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism.

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Hezbollah: part-military, part-political, all terrorist

This is the United Nations General Assembly’s definition of terrorism:

Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.

Governments around the world have created lists of organizations they designate as terrorists. Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization in eighteen countries, while its military wing is designated as such by the European Union. In late June, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers called on the EU to designate both the political and military wings as a terrorist group.

Despite Reuters seeming disregard for Hezbollah’s sordid past, its terrorist activities are well-documented. Since its founding in the 1980s, the organization has amassed a stockpile of rockets larger than all the combined armies of Europe, carried out some of the deadliest terror attacks around the world, and now facilitates Iranian expansionism.

Highlights of Hezbollah’s record of terror attacks include suicide truck bombings targeting US and French forces in Beirut (in 1983 and 1984) and US forces again in Saudi Arabia (in 1996), suicide bombing attacks targeting Jewish and Israeli interests such as those in Argentina (1992 and 1994) and in Thailand (attempted in 1994), and a host of other plots targeting American, French, German, British, Kuwaiti, Bahraini, and other interests from Europe to Southeast Asia to the Middle East.

Related reading: All You Need to Know About The Hezbollah Threat to Israel

With regards to Israel, Hezbollah cross-border operations have spiked since the Israeli withdrawal to the “Blue Line” in May 2000, as has its proactive support for Palestinian terrorist groups targeting Israel.

And how does the Party of God fund its worldwide terrorist operation? Hezbollah is Iran’s earliest and most successful proxy project. It remains the most powerful of Iran’s non state allies in the Middle East. Iran supplied weapons to Hezbollah during its 2006 war against Israel. More recently, Iran has mobilized Hezbollah’s intervention on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s bloody nine-year civil war. A US Treasury Department assessment in 2018 put Iran’s support for Hezbollah at $700 million per year.

Hezbollah: A ‘major player’ in Lebanese politics

Unfortunately, Reuters isn’t the only news organization to exclude this key fact about Hezbollah. Nor does this oversight occur only in stories about the escalating tensions on Israel’s northern border. Forbes, another widely read website, referenced Hezbollah twice in a piece titled Does Lebanon Really Need Iranian Or Iraqi Fuel Supplies? This article describes the attempts in Lebanon to weigh the idea of importing refined oil products from Iran or fuel oil from Iraq, and how these decisions were influenced by geopolitical factors rather than a lack of fuel supplies.

Hezbollah is described as a “major player in Lebanese politics.” This kind of whitewashing is akin to describing the Ku Klux Klan as a political player, without mentioning the fact that the KKK is a hate group with a long history of engaging in acts of violence.

Related reading: Hezbollah and the UN’s Toothless Resolution 1701

Hezbollah’s genocidal aspirations

Misinformation matters because media outlets have great power. People define their understanding of the world based on what they read about it online. The Party of God is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In that pursuit it has attacked Israeli and Jewish targets. Hezbollah is expansionist in nature, as attested to by its relationship with Iran and the terrorist attacks the Party of God has perpetrated around the world.

By not clearly defining Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, news readers around the world may well be less diligent about the very real danger this organization presents, to them as well as Israel.

To shine a spotlight on what Hezbollah is really all about, Reuters, Forbes, and other major media outlets need to report the facts. Media outlets have awesome power. Now’s the time to use that power wisely.

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Gidon Ben-Zvi, former Jerusalem Correspondent for The Algemeiner newspaper, is an accomplished writer who left Hollywood for Jerusalem in 2009. He and his wife are raising their four children to speak fluent English – with an Israeli accent. Ben-Zvi's work has appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, The Algemeiner, American Thinker, The Jewish Journal, Israel Hayom, and United with Israel. Ben-Zvi blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind (jsmstateofmind.com).