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Hezbollah, your local bank and pay-TV service

July 21, 2010 – 11:31 amOne Comment

Source: RaceForIran.com

By Leah Bloch

Counter terrorism and Middle East expert Avi Jorisch ran several interesting sessions at Limmud Oz recently. In one, he showed us footage from the Hezbollah operated TV channel Al-Manar. At first glance, Al-Manar looks like any other TV network. It has news programs with international correspondents, talk shows, soap operas, family shows, and even music videos. All this lends to Al-Manar a deceptive appearance of professionalism and authority. However, Jorisch presented evidence that the channel’s programming is strategic and insidious. It glorifies taking up arms against Israel and the United States and propagates Hezbollah’s political and terrorist agenda, particularly the destruction of Israel.

Examples shown by Jorisch included a TV-drama which graphically portrayed Jews slitting the throat of a Christian child to make Passover matzah, and a cartoon celebrating suicide bombers, accompanied by an anthem about the glory and honour of taking up arms against the Zionist entity. A montage of violent anti- Israel/ anti-Western images included a scene of ten year olds in army fatigues doing training exercises – the call to take up arms starts young.

Jorisch and others have campaigned for Al-Manar to be removed from twelve pay-TV networks worldwide; it remains on two international networks, and is on air in Australia at the time of writing.

The footage made me pessimistic about the chances for achieving peace, when from early childhood generations of viewers are raised on such racist and inflammatory propaganda

In another session, Jorisch outlined what he considered to be a critical strategy for undermining Iran’s terrorist activities. A great deal of the money Iran spends on terrorism is moved through the international banking system. International banking relies on a system of “corresponding” banks. To move money from your bank in Australia to a bank account in another country requires your bank to have an agreement with a bank in that country, whereby the foreign bank agrees to act as an agent for your bank in that country.

If your bank did not have a corresponding agent in that country, it would not have the ability to move money to that country.

Jorisch argues that putting pressure on our banks to refuse to have any corresponding relationships with Iranian banks will be the most successful way of isolating Iran internationally and reducing Iran’s means of sponsoring proxy terrorist organizations outside Iran, such as Hizbollah.

Iranian Bank Sepah was designated by the US Treasury in January 2007 for providing financial services to Iran’s missile industry. All transactions involving a designated entity are prohibited in the US, and any assets the designees may have under US jurisdiction are frozen. Bank Sepah was subsequently designated by the United Nations in March 2007.

On 16 June 2010, the US Treasury designated Post Bank of Iran for providing financial services to, and acting on behalf of, Bank Sepah. For more detail, readers can see this statement by the US Department of Treasury, published on the Iran Watch website.

Jorisch believes that disabling Iranian banks’ ability to move money internationally will be the most effective sanction on Iran, as well as directly impacting on Iran’s ability to fund terrorism.

While in Australia for Limmud Oz, he commented on ANZ’s announcement that they would seek to remove their listing as a corresponding bank for Bank Sapah. Although ANZ stated that they ceased their relationship with Bank Sapah in 2007, they still remain in Bank Sapah’s list of corresponding banks.

In an article in The Australian, Jorisch has questioned why the ANZ was conducting business with Bank Sepah in the first place, “given Bank Sepah was involved in illicit activity well before 2007.”

Jorisch encourages people to learn more about this issue, and pressure their own banks to cut relationships with Iranian banks in order to isolate Iran. He also encourages people to put pressure on the two pay-TV networks that still air Al-Manar. Jorisch believes that this kind of grassroots activity is critical to effecting change as born out by his own activism on both issues.

Leah Bloch is a member of the Jewish Community in Melbourne who attended Avi Jorisch’s sessions at Limmud Oz Melbourne in June 2010.

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