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April 2004 • Vol 4, No. 4 •

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin:
The Man and What He Really Stood For

Introduction by Rod Holt

The following three essays will help counter the vicious propaganda surrounding the murder of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Hamas and the fiction of Israeli self-defense.

The assassination by the Israeli armed forces of Sheik Ahmed Yassin caused a virtual media blizzard and a “white-out,” mostly intentional. Within hours of the Palestinian leader’s death, the talking heads were in high gear on every U.S. radio and TV station telling us that Sheik Yassin was a mass murderer, a father to all terrorists, the inventor of the suicide bomber, a symbol of the Islamic terrorist war on the West.

Then, of course, his murder is a victory for Israel, for the cause of peace, and a victory in the War on Terror. Americans who are interested in learning what Yassin stood for and why he was assassinated will not find much in the New York Times or other purportedly authoritative U.S. sources. What is printed is often worse than nothing, far worse.

The New York Times’ prime Middle East reporter, James Bennet writes (March 23), “Hamas wants to destroy the Jewish state and replace it with an Islamic one.” The phrase “destroy the Jewish state” means to most Americans a physical destruction of the country, people included.

To make sure people think this way, Bennet, in describing the gigantic crowd at Yassin’s funeral, brings in some local color: Standing on the corrugated tin roof of a cinder-block building to watch the crowd, Mohammad Abu Hussa, 17, said, “The fingernail of Sheikh Yassin is worth all the Jewish people.” Asked what would bring peace, he replied, “The Jews should be annihilated.” Bennet neither gives the reader other quotes or interviews, nor does he tell us this teenager is just venting his anger and frustration.

Most media reported that Hamas charged the U.S. with responsibility for the assassination saying that Israel would not have acted without permission. The first Hamas statement released just a few hours after Yassin’s death did say that and suggested terrorist acts against the U.S. But soon cool heads prevailed and the implied threat was retracted. Abdel Rantisi, the newly elected Hamas leader said, “The Israelis, those occupying our land, are targets, but no one from Hamas will target Americans.”

Rantisi’s statement is not unexpected since Hamas has held this position since its founding. Ewen MacAskill writing for the Guardian (UK) from Jerusalem reluctantly admits that Hamas might be rational. He states: Hamas is committed to the creation of a Palestinian state that incorporates Israel. In theory, Hamas supports a state in which both Jews and Arabs could live together. In reality, it would mean the end of Israel and of the presence of Jews in the Holy Land.

Why Jews would no longer be present in The Holy Land is not explained.

To make sure that nobody is fooled by the professed policy of Hamas, at the end of his article, MacAskill describes Rantisi speaking from his hospital bed last year. He demonstrated just how uncompromising he is towards Israel when he called for Palestinians to drive out Israelis from “every inch of our usurped land” and to “kill them wherever you find them.” Rantisi, by the way, was in the hospital because he had just survived an Israeli assassination attempt, which might have had something to do with his ill temper.

It is fairly easy to counter such obvious propaganda as our examples here. It is impossible to adequately defeat silence. On the March 29 evening news no one gave any special mention of the seven innocent bystanders who died with Sheik Yassin or of the 16 wounded who will carry their scars with them for the rest of their lives. We are all used to the by-the-way deaths that just happen to happen in the Israeli war on Palestine. They don’t count for much. Israel carries out “targeted” killings and this mythical high-tech accuracy is supposed to be limited to the irreducible minimum of collateral damage (as the U.S. military calls this mass murder). The Zionists insist that this precision turns murder into self-defense, a remarkable feat of logic.

The first article is “The Obituary of Sheik Ahmed Yassin” by David Hirst, perhaps the most consistent and responsible historian of the Middle East.

The second essay is “Another Zionist Crime,” by one of the most cogent and outspoken of the anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss. His organization, Neturei Karta, has participated in many demonstrations against the war in Iraq, against U.S. support for Israel, and against Zionism in general. Rabbi Weiss often presents a clear explanation of why neither Judaism nor Jewish history justify the existence of Israel.

Third is a strong, bitter essay, “Another Red Line Is Crossed,” by Amira Hass, published in the Israeli daily, Ha’aretz. Similar sentiments are becoming increasingly common in the Israeli press.





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