New Zealand Jews have welcomed the National Party’s shadow Attorney General, Chris Finlayson’s, statement condemning the pro-Hezbollah protest that took place last Friday in Auckland’s Aotea Square.

On Friday 8 June, approximately 20 people gathered in Aotea Square, Auckland, to show support for the Iranian-backed Lebanese group, Hezbollah.The protesters held signs that included “Hezballah [sic] is the symbol of resistance in the face of aggression”.

The protest fell on Quds Day, which was initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to express solidarity with Palestinians and opposition to Zionism and Israel.

“Al-Quds” is an Arabic term for Jerusalem and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said this year’s events were “special” because of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and 2018 being “the 70th anniversary of the occupation of the Palestinian land” – a reference to Israel’s War of Independence.

Finlayson [pictured above] said he was appalled at the open support for Hezbollah at the Auckland protest, which was carried out by members of the Islamic Ahlulbayt Foundation of New Zealand.

This is the same group that posted a video on Youtube in which an Iranian official denied the Holocaust and in which others were shown calling for the destruction of Israel.

“Hezbollah is synonymous with extremism, misery and terrorism and it is troubling to see support for such an organisation being openly expressed here in New Zealand,” Finlayson said.

“This protest amounts to support of a terrorist organisation and must be condemned by all. No citizen of New Zealand should be associated with Hezbollah.

“No one would tolerate a protest by supporters of the KKK yet the authorities are silent about this open display of hatred by members of our own community.

“Something needs to be done to ensure that anti-Semitism and support for terror groups remains unacceptable in New Zealand. This incident must not go unchallenged.”

The NZ Jewish Council said New Zealand’s Jewish community is still under threat from the Hezbollah movement, even though the country is far from Lebanon.

“On the internet you can hear a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in 2002 in which he says: ‘If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.’ ”

This is no idle threat, the NZ Jewish Council says. Hezbollah was behind the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in which 85 people were killed and hundreds injured.

“It is shocking to us to see New Zealanders support an anti-Jewish terrorist organisation,” the Council said.

“It should be a concern to all fair-minded New Zealanders that an organisation whose beliefs are antithetical to the liberal, tolerant values most Kiwis hold dear is being promoted in a NZ public square.”

The demonstrators came from the same group which last year posted material on YouTube containing Holocaust denial.

“The Human Rights Commission tells us, quite rightly, that ‘Racism starts small’,” the NZ Jewish Council said. “We don’t want to see demonstrations supporting Hezbollah grow into something bigger.”