Canadian political and media elites have a soft spot for Hezbollah. Last December, recall, our Foreign Ministry sought to block the murderous Lebanese outfit from being branded a terrorist organization because -- notwithstanding its long list of bomb attacks against Western targets -- the group's non-military wing engages in various humanitarian and political activities. When Hezbollah was banned anyway, the CBC tried to impugn the decision. TV reporter Neil Macdonald, for instance, wondered aloud whether the group was not a "national liberation movement" unfairly smeared by "supporters" of the Jewish state (whoever those might be). CBC Radio reporter Evan Dyer, meanwhile, called Hezbollah part of the "Lebanese establishment." When later questioned whether it was not also a terrorist group, Mr. Dyer demurred that the T-word has "[no] place in journalism."
Fortunately, such Hezbollah apologism has died away in recent months -- in part thanks to the group's militant posturing. On March 13, Hezbollah's Secretary-General, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, declared his organization's slogan "was and will remain 'death to America.' " The same month, Hezbollah's television network began running music videos urging suicide attacks against U.S. forces in the region, and an Argentine court declared there was evidence that Hezbollah had helped orchestrate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires that left 85 people dead. (Jeffrey Goldberg had already reported much the same thing in The New Yorker. But as late as last December, Mr. Dyer was still insisting on CBC that he was in Buenos Aires when the bombing occurred, and it "had not been pinned on Hezbollah.")
And yet, here we are again. Yesterday, the National Post reported that an asylum applicant who had helped Israel fight Hezbollah in southern Lebanon has been branded a "war criminal" by Canadian immigration authorities. The Lebanese man, identified only as "Mr. X" by the Immigration and Refugee Board, is not accused of harming Hezbollah members directly. But he did supply Israeli intelligence with names and other information about Hezbollah during the period when the Israeli army occupied part of Lebanon to prevent attacks on northern Israel. According to a lawyer from Canada's Immigration Ministry, this means Mr. X was complicit in "crimes against humanity" perpetrated against Hezbollah members by Israel and an allied militia -- including torture and murder. The IRB agreed, and Mr. X was denied asylum.
For all we know, Mr. X has already been deported to Lebanon. (Indeed, he may have already been set upon by the Hezbollah thugs Canadian refugee law was supposed to protect him from.) But if he is still on Canadian shores, we hope Mr. X appeals the IRB's decision to the Federal Court. We are not usually a fan of dilatory refugee proceedings. But this is an exception. Hezbollah is a terrorist group: Our government has already officially declared as much. Mr. X should not be barred from Canada for assisting in the fight against it.
Indeed, Mr. X is doing exactly what we would expect any Canadian citizen to do under the circumstances -- provide information to the authorities about the activities of terrorists. Rather than condemning him to a life of imprisonment, or worse, in a Lebanese jail, perhaps we should put him on the payroll of our own intelligence service.