Don't appease the terrorists


Editorial - A pair of opposition MPs travelling in Lebanon at the invitation of an Arab-Canadian group have called on the Conservative government to remove Hezbollah from Ottawa's list of outlawed terror organizations, or at least to change the Criminal Code to permit officials to enter into negotiations with Hezbollah to resolve its long-standing grievances with Israel. At best, the recommendation of Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj and New Democrat Peggy Nash -- both of whom represent Toronto ridings -- is naive. At worst, it encourages further terrorism by seeming to reward Hezbollah's murderous behaviour.
It is not entirely clear what Mr. Wrzesnewskyj wants. While the Etobicoke Centre MP -- who serves as the Liberals' associate critic for foreign affairs -- told the Toronto Star that Hezbollah must remain on Canada's terrorist list because "they've committed war crimes by sending rockets into civilian areas," when asked by the National Post specifically whether he would be in favour of delisting them, he replied emphatically, "Yes, I would be." Later still he appeared to reconsider, telling the Post that his main concern was not whether Hezbollah was legal or illegal; rather, he suggested Canada should be prepared to change its terror-designation law so the government may be party to multinational talks with the organization, to "bring about negotiated, non-violent solutions."
For her part, Ms. Nash is far less equivocal. She insists that "it is just not helpful to label them a terrorist organization." The cause of peace would be advanced, in her opinion, by calling Hezbollah something else: So long as they are stigmatized as "terrorists," Hezbollah and its many supporters will remain furious enough with Israel to keep fighting.
A variation on this theme has been argued for years by those who cannot bring themselves to call a terrorist a terrorist. The previous Liberal government, notably, refused for years to outlaw the Palestinian terror group Hamas -- insisting that because Hamas had political and social service wings, calling the whole group terrorist would only inflame matters. Likewise with Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers, whom the Liberals kept off the terrorist list for years so Canada might be seen as the "honest broker" capable of settling the decades-old conflict between the Tamil north and Colombo.
In neither case -- Hamas nor the Tigers -- did Canada's delay in outlawing the groups slow the violence or improve our position as diplomatic peacemakers. And there can be little doubt it would fail this time, too.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Mr. Wrzesnewskyj and Ms. Nash made their remarks while they were guests in Lebanon of the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations, an organization that has long opposed the criminalizing of Hezbollah. In 2001, it justified terrorist violence against Israel on the basis that Hezbollah, Hamas and others were fighting for "independence" and "to liberate themselves from occupation." And in 2002, when Ottawa finally got around to banning Hezbollah, the NCCAR mourned that it was "a sad day for Canada."
Banning Hezbollah and others was a courageous act by the previous government in the war on terror. Far from aiding the peace process, going back on it now would show Canada to be soft on terrorists. And such appeasement never leads to peace -- only to more war.

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