Australia/Israel Review


Antisemitic party with fascist roots active in Australia

Jun 30, 2023 | Ran Porat

Then-NSW MP Shaoquett Moselmane (left) at the 2022 SSNP annual meeting (Image: Syrian SSNP official website)
Then-NSW MP Shaoquett Moselmane (left) at the 2022 SSNP annual meeting (Image: Syrian SSNP official website)

The Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) is a pro-Assad Lebanese international political party, influenced by European fascism and Nazism. Its vision is to set up “Greater Syria” on an area stretching from Lebanon, through Israel and Jordan and into parts of Iraq. The party has a long and well-known history of terrorism, violence and antisemitism. The party’s name, anthem and flag (a red swastika-like symbol inside a white circle against a black background) were inspired by the German Nazi party (short for “National Socialist party”). The party has a military wing called Nasur al-Zuba’a (“Eagles of the Whirlwind”), which was tied in 2018 to Hezbollah activities on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. And the party is active in Australia. 

 

Fans of the Butcher of Damascus

As revealed previously in the AIR, SSNP has branches in Melbourne and Sydney, operating freely on Australian soil and holding events regularly. The party is officially endorsed by Syrian officials such as the Honorary Consul of Syria in Sydney, Maher Dabbagh, who often attends its events. Members of the party are mostly Australians of Syrian descent. 

The party enjoys the support of prominent Australian politicians and public figures. In 2022, then NSW ALP MP Shaoquett Moselmane participated in the annual meeting of the party in Sydney. Victorian Federal ALP MP Maria Vamvakinou took part in a March 2023 Melbourne SSNP fundraising event for the victims of the earthquake in Syria, and reportedly used that event to call for international sanctions on Damascus to be lifted.

The party enthusiastically champions Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad – notorious for killing and torturing tens of thousands of his own people and using chemical weapons against them. In Sept. 2021 SSNP Sydney held a joint party with the Syrian Baath movement to celebrate Assad’s “landslide victory” in the yes or no vote on his presidency among Syrians (of course, such polls in a dictatorship do not truly reflect the people’s choice), sending a congratulatory message to Assad. A few months earlier (May 2021), a delegation of party leaders accepted the invitation of the Syrian Consul in Sydney to attend a cocktail party to honour Assad’s re-election to a new term as the country’s President.

Some regular guests at SSNP Australia events are aligned with the Iranian regime, most notably Hussein Dirani, the head of the Australian branch of al-Tajamu, Teheran’s international propaganda network. 

Other groups heavily connected to the Australian SSNP are Palestinian. Regular guests at SSNP events include Izzat Abdulhadi, the Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, and representatives of the Palestinian club, the Palestinian Workers Union and Fatah – the faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Similarly, SSNP members took part in pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Sydney and Melbourne. 

 

Antisemitism and support for terror

True to the founding principles of their party, Australian SSNP activists openly voice antisemitism and support for terror. At a party meeting in Melbourne in October 2017, speakers warned against “The danger of the Jews” and praised the terrorists Habib Chertouni, who assassinated Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel, and Khalid Alwan, who killed Israeli soldiers at the Wimpy café in Beirut in 1982. 

In April 2022, SSNP Sydney held a youth camp named after terrorist Sana’a Mehaidli, a Shi’ite SSNP member who committed a suicide car-bombing attack against an Israeli convoy in Lebanon in 1985, killing two soldiers and wounding four others. 

During July 2022, the Sydney branch of the party commemorated the date of the execution by the Lebanese government of their founding father, Antoun Saadeh (July 7, 1949) in two events. In one of them, local Australian SSNP operative Mustafa al-Ayyubi reportedly “pointed out that everyone who participated in the crime of the leader’s mock trial and execution carried out Jewish orders.” In the other event, SSNP leader Mahmoud Al-Sahili, stated that “On the eighth of July, we bow in honour of the martyr teacher His Excellency and raise the salute to the martyrs of the nation in the face of Judaisation and humiliation projects to the martyrs of its tormented entities.”

In a similar event of the Melbourne branch in 2021, one of the speakers claimed that Saadeh’s “assassination” was “aimed at perpetuating the entity and sectarianism in our country, and facilitated the Yehud [Jews] to take over southern Syria, that is, Palestine.” This theme was repeated in a 2021 speech by Melbourne SSNP party leader Al-Amin Habib Sarah, who argued that the “Greater Syria” plan put forward by Saadeh was also aimed “to fight the Zionist movement lurking in our nation.” 

At the SSNP March 2023 annual meeting in Sydney, according to a report in an Australian Arabic language local media outlet, the host “saluted the heroes of the Fedayeen [“warrior”, used to refer to anti-Israel terrorists] operations in Palestine.” 

That same month, during an SSNP Melbourne fundraising event for Syrian victims of the earthquake there, the head of the local branch, Samir Al-Asmar, gave a speech that included an attack on the Jewish state, without mentioning the name ‘Israel’. Still, his remarks targeted the Jewish religion:

“What about the scourge of societies and the deformation of humanity who usurp our land in Palestine and bomb our lands, facilities and airports in the most difficult stages and in the midst of humanitarian work after the earthquake, with unparalleled sadism? It expresses the psychology of Jehovah, the morality of Jehovah, and the criminality of Jehovah.

“We also salute our people inside Palestine, specifically in the occupied West Bank, for the fierce confrontation of the occupation, through the daily qualitative operations [meaning terror attacks – RP] that brought down the hypnosis projects adopted by the [Palestinian] authority and the nonsense of security coordination with the occupation.”

The fact that SSNP freely operates in Australia – promoting hate, antisemitism and terrorism – while voicing support for a war criminal dictator is worrying. One can only hope the legal authorities are keeping track of this group and both its promotion of terrorism and its open incitement of anti-Jewish racism. 

Dr Ran Porat is an AIJAC Research Associate. He is also a Research Associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University and a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Reichman University in Herzliya.

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