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Jewish World Review
March 24, 2004
/ 2 Nissan, 5764
Yassin's death is justice long overdue
Justice delayed results in truth denied
To listen to much of the commentary from world leaders and American editorial
pages this week, Israel's killing of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin was a
crime that would set back the cause of Mideast peace. But the truth is, the
three missiles fired from Israeli helicopters that ended Yassin's life was merely
a case of belated justice.
Yassin was a 67-year-old quadriplegic, a fact that aroused sympathy for him,
as well as revulsion against Israel's actions from many. Far from being a
victim, Yassin was the most important leader of a movement that has killed
hundreds of Jews in cold blood. He was the Palestinian idealogue of mass murder who
bore responsibility for countless crimes committed by others in the name of the
radical Islam he championed for decades from the confines of his much
photographed wheeled perch.
Given the misleading language that is often used by the media to characterize
Hamas, it is probably not surprising that Yassin's death would be the cause
of so much pointless criticism. Though it has taken on a quasi-governmental
role in Gaza, Hamas is neither the religious nor social-service agency it is
often described as.
The Washington Post editorialized on March 23 that Yassin's killing puts off
the day when Hamas will morph into a peaceful Islamic group. This is a
farcical notion. Hamas is already a movement with a clear purpose the destruction
of Israel by armed force, the expulsion and/or murder of its Jewish population
and the establishment of a radical Islamist state over the territory that
would remain, including areas under the administration of the Palestinian
Authority. The idea that Yassin was a force for moderation within Hamas is equally
comical. Hamas was and is a group without a "moderate" wing even by the
distorted and violent standards of Palestinian society. Compromise with Hamas is
While it might still be possible for some to pretend that Palestinian
Authority leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement is a peace partner, no sane or honest
person can harbor the same illusion about Hamas. As such, Israel not only had
the right to pursue Yassin, it was duty-bound to track down him and every
other active member of Hamas just like the United States hunts down members
of the equally despicable Al Qaeda.
There will be many who will seize upon the successful dispatch of Yassin and
see it as an understandable rationale for future Hamas terror. But to accept
this premise is to fall into the trap of blaming the victim Israel for
having the temerity to defend itself. Like all previous Israeli acts of
self-defense, this latest one is not part of a mythical "cycle of violence" that
Israel is helping to perpetuate. Neither this incident nor the deaths of any of
Yassin's henchmen was the motivation for any past or future terrorist attacks.
Hamas' murderous rampages are based in its belief system, not on any individual
act of Israel. The only driving force behind Palestinian terrorism is Arab
rejection of the right of the Jews to live in peace and sovereignty in their own
Some in Israel will question the wisdom of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and
his decision to launch an attack on Yassin now that he's announced a plan for
withdrawal from Gaza. They question whether the cost of Yassin's death to Israel
will be worth it. I don't know the answer to that question. But let there be
no doubt as to the justice of this act, or that foreign criticism of Yassin's
killing is rank hypocrisy.
History will deliver its own verdict on Sharon's judgement. But despite the
culture of appeasement of Islamic terror that reigns in Europe and the rise of
international anti-Semitism, Yassin's death proves again that as long as a
Jewish state exists, it's no longer possible to murder Jews with impunity. And
for that point alone, Sharon will deserve credit.
We are told by some experts that Arabs now have a greater motivation to kill
That's laughable; Hamas needs no new excuses to go ahead with their
depredations anymore than they did in the past when they have killed hundreds.
Also ridiculous is the idea that Yassin's death will undermine America's war
on terror because now moderate Arabs will be less inclined to work against
Hamas' spiritual cousins in Al Qaeda. Americans should stop kidding themselves
about there being a difference between the two. The Europeans already
understand this and seek to appease both in a vain effort to stay out of the fighting.
Americans need to understand that a real war on Islamic terror that grants
immunity to Hamas is a sham.
Whatever happens in the coming days, Palestinians should think more clearly
about the costs to themselves of their passion for the spilling of Jewish blood
that Yassin helped inspire. Let those who would follow his path, including
those who seek to murder Americans in the name of Islam, draw the proper
conclusions from Yassin's fate.
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JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.
Let him know what you think by clicking here. In June, Mr. Tobin won first places honors in the American
Jewish Press Association's Louis Rapaport Award for Excellence in Commentary as
well as the Philadelphia Press Association's Media Award for top weekly
columnist. Both competitions were for articles written in the year 2002.
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© 2004, Jonathan Tobin