"Other Voices" & various Israelis, 3/23/2004
The following message comes from Jessica Benjamin, a Jewishly-involved leader of psychotherapists involved in social-justice work and a New York peace activist.
— Shalom, Arthur
PLEASE JOIN TO DEMONSTRATE WITH US TO PROTEST THE ASSASSINATION OF SHEIKH YASSIN, AT THE ISRAELI MISSION TO THE U.N.
If you can, please join us in front of the building which houses the mission at 800 2nd Ave. between 42 and 43rd St. at 5 PM ON THURSDAY, MARCH 25, 2004
Dear Friends, The Sharon government's extrajudicial assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin has —as all observers agree—inaugurated a new and frightening escalation of violence and conflict. In response some of us feel it is an important moment to demonstrate our rejection of this action and to affirm in the face of it the demand for a just peace and an end to violence that the peoples of Israel and Palestine deserve.
It is important to show our support for those who struggle non-violently for peace and our disapproval of the Bush administration's passive tolerance of this policy of targeted assassinations as well as its general support for retaliation and vengeance over political negotiation. We are concerned for the lives of all peoples which will now be more seriously threatened than before.
This demonstration is being initiated by Other Voices, a coalition of groups for a just peace in the Middle East. We are hoping to bring together as many clergy and citizens as possible to give the Other perspective, the peace perspective, a public voice in this dire situation.
BRING YOUR FRIENDS, FORWARD THIS EMAIL
[The reports that follow show opposition to the assassination of Sheikh Yassin as expressed by a spectrum of Israelis, within the context of what seems at first report to be majority Israeli support for the assassination. — AW]
The missiles that killed Yasin finished off Abu Ala — not Hama
Killing may cause PA collapse, new "civil Intifada" and a global wave of terrorism
By Reuven Paz
[Dr. Paz heads a research project on Islamic movements at Herzliya' Interdisciplinary Center. This article appeared in Maariv, a right-of-center Israeli mass newspaper.]
I was not one of those who uncorked a bottle of Champagne upon hearing the news about the killing of Sheikh Yasin, although I assume some in the IDF did celebrate.
First, Yasin opposed terror attacks outside Israel and stood in the way of an expansion of Hamas terror operations overseas. He did not support Bin Laden's global Jihad and focused on a struggle against Israel as a fight against occupation. After Yasin's killing, we could be facing terror attacks against Jewish targets worldwide: whether perpetrated by Hamas operatives or by the group's supporters in Moslem communitie throughout Europe and even the US. This line of action would strike at Israel's soft underbelly, where it is ill prepared to defend itself.
Second, anyone who thinks that the missiles which eliminated Yasin will also eliminate Hamas - is mistaken. The inheritance will naturally pa on to Abd ea-Aziz Rantisi or to a collective type of leadership headed by the group's current senior members and the leaders of the military wing Iz a-Din al-Kassam. The new leadership would perhaps be more vigilant and take extraordinary precautions to evade the IAF helicopter gunships hovering above, but one must remember that Hamas controls an enormous religious and social infrastructure in Gaza that could easily be called into action even by a secretive, behind-the-scene type of leadership.
The Hamas won't suffer extensive damage, but the assassination - as I am willing to risk predicting - has ended the career of Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) and perhaps even that of Mohammed Dahlan [the favorite Israeli & US candidate for leadership/ control of the Palestinians]. Whoever gave the order, didn't evaluate or understand the full extent of Yasin's influence that goes way beyond Hamas.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), whose own population is highly critical of it, suffered a devastating blow this morning - a blow that will bring about the rise of Hamas even among the silent majority. This public would not only seek revenge, but also would come out in force against the PA, who has basically lost all control over its territory. I wouldn't be surprised if Yasin's funeral would re-ignite the Intifada a a civil rebellion, as it was when it first erupted back in 1987.
The assassination of Sheikh Yasin will also greatly increase the power of Dahlan's opposition. Israel had high hopes for Dahlan, and essentially the entire disengagement plan is based on his capability to take over the Gaza Strip following the Israeli withdrawal. Today' events have pretty much eliminated this possibility, at least for the foreseeable future. Whoever would fail to manage security in the Strip, and therefore would not succeed in protecting it and controlling Hama and the Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigades - would soon be viewed as one whose sole aim is to protect the security of Israel.
Harsh criticism of Israel's action is expected from the Arab world. One of the first thoughts that crossed my mind when I had first heard of the assassination was King Abdullah's last visit to Prime Minister Sharon' private residence - the Sycamore Ranch - only two days ago. The visit bears a great deal of resemblance to the meeting that took place between the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin and the late President of Egypt Anwar Sadat in June of 1980, two days before IAF fighter jets pounded the Iraqi nuclear reactor.
The chain of events could be viewed in the Arab world as coordinated with Jordan, and that could lead to extremely harsh reactions. Furthermore, as of toady Sheikh Yasin is to become a symbol throughout the Muslim world.
When one speaks of road safety, it is accustomed to say "don't be right, be smart". Even if Yasin deserved to die, sometimes there are actions a leadership must avoid taking. The assassination, so it seems, will not assist Israel in any way or form.
From article by Greg Myre in NY Times, 3/23/04:
... Most Israelis supported the decision to kill Sheik Yassin.
The Israeli interior minister, Avraham Poraz, said he was one of two dissenting voices when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet approved the operation.
"I think the damage is greater than the usefulness," Mr. Poraz told Israel radio. "The blow to him will not eliminate Hamas." According to Israeli news reports, the chief of the Shin Bet security service, Avi Dichter, also opposed the strike.
Some who opposed the move recalled that Israel made a similar wager in 1996 and fared badly. In that instance, Israel killed Hamas's chief bomb maker, Yahya Ayyash, with an exploding cellphone.
Hamas responded with bombings that killed dozens of Israelis in the next two months and contributed to the electoral defeat of Prime Minister Shimon Peres. It could do so again, some terrorism experts warn.
The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition
[The Jerusalem Post is a right-wing Israeli newspaaper, published in English.]
Analysis: Assassination will increase anarchy By Khaled Abu Toameh Mar. 23, 2004
The assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin is certain to increase the state of anarchy in the Palestinian territories, thu weakening what remains of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat' influence on the course of events.
The consensus among Palestinians is that the attack will undermine Arafat's already shaky control and boost the popularity of the radical camp in Palestinian society. Arafat's efforts in the past few weeks to regain control over the PA-controlled areas have gone down the drain a he finds himself forced to declare three days of mourning and receive condolences in his office for the man who constituted the biggest threat to his leadership.
On a day like this, all Palestinians identify with Hamas and the only voices that can be heard are those calling for more bloodshed and violence. Hamas and Fatah led the chorus of threats to deal a "painful blow" in retaliation for the killing of Yassin. Fatah and PA official sounded more like their Hamas colleagues in interviews to Palestinian and Arab TV and radio stations.
Arafat's Fatah said it would accept nothing less than Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's head in response to the killing.
The threats are not only directed against Israel, but also against Arafat and his pragmatic prime minister, Ahmed Qurei, who continue to express their commitment to the peace process. The tens of thousands of Palestinians who took to the streets to protest the assassination were also chanting slogans against Arafat and the PA leadership, urging them to endorse the armed struggle rather than the peace track.
Only last week, there was talk in the PA about arranging a meeting between Qurei and Sharon. Now, however, it is impossible - if not dangerous - for a Palestinian to be seen with Sharon or any other Israeli official.
"This is the end of the so-called peace process," declared Hussein al-Sheikh, a West Bank Fatah leader. "Now the Palestinians must realize that the only option they have is the intifada and more resistance. Thi is the only language Israel understands."
The liquidation of Yassin has undoubtedly removed the last chance of Hamas agreement to a cessation of violence. Over the past few weeks, Egypt and the PA were engaged in a "dialogue" with Hamas to avoid the possibility that Hamas would take control of the Gaza Strip after the planned Israeli withdrawal. PA officials said they had good reason to be optimistic that Hamas would agree to a temporary truce.
Hamas's popularity in the densely populated and poverty-stricken Gaza Strip has been surging since the start of the intifada in September 2000 at the expense of Arafat's corruption-riddled regime.
Hamas's popularity is not solely due to its policy of suicide bombings. Since the establishment of the movement in 1987, Yassin developed it health, welfare, and educational services to the point where tens of thousands of families rely on it for most of their basic needs. This in turn produced a mass reservoir of political support for Hamas, long before it embarked on its suicide-bombing campaigns.
Arafat was worried before Yassin was eliminated and now he has even more reason to be concerned. Many PA officials were conspicuously absent from the spontaneous demonstrations of anger and mourning in the streets of Ramallah and Gaza City. On a day like this, they know that it is better for them not to show their faces in front of the enraged masses.
"The three missiles that hit Sheikh Yassin could lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and total anarchy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," said a PA minister in Ramallah. "We are now facing the most dangerous phase since the beginning of the intifada. I don't see how we can continue to function under the current circumstances."
There was already some talk in Ramallah on Monday night that Qurei wa seriously considering resigning so as not to be held responsible for the expected deterioration. Others were also talking about calls on the embattled Arafat to dismantle the PA and demand that the international community run the affairs of the Palestinians.
It's not clear at this stage if Qurei will quit or if Arafat intends to accept the offer to disband the PA. However, what is clear is that their credibility among the Palestinians has plunged to its lowest level. A of Monday, the de facto leaders of the Palestinians are the masked and armed militiamen who are setting the tone and planning the next wave of terrorist attacks.
SHALOM ACHSHAV/ PEACE NOW
Assassination of Yasin = Prize for Hama
PEACE NOW: "The assassination of Sheikh Yasin is a strategic blunder and a prize for Hamas. It will fan the fires of extremism and terror, endangering still more Israeli lives. If the idea was to destroy the Palestine Authority and any chance for negotiations, and peace, Sharon has become an expert. The only way to destroy the Hamas and the other terroist organizations is by eneding the ocupation and geetin a political soulotion to this conflict"
We cannot let this government toy with our lives and our future.
PEACE NOW will protest outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv tonight, 22 March at 7PM.
SHALOM ACHSHAV's US support group issued this statement: APN Condemns Yassin Assassination Washington, D.C.-Americans for Peace Now (APN) today condemned Israel's assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas. APN is a Jewish, Zionist organization whose mission is to strengthen Israel's security through peace and to support the Israeli Peace Now movement.
"Americans for Peace Now condemns the violence associated with the Hamas terrorist organization and the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin," said Debra DeLee, President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now. "At the same time, we do not support Israel's assassination policy. Although it may satisfy demands for revenge, it has also served to stoke the fires of hatred among Palestinian militants and led to lethal reprisal attacks against Israeli civilians. We fear that the assassination of Sheikh Yassin will escalate the current conflict to new levels of violence and lead to the strengthening of Palestinian hardliners at the expense of moderates in the occupied territories and elsewhere in the Arab world."
Worse than a crime
March 22, 2004 Tel-Aviv
GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 - www.gush-shalom.org/
Uri Avnery on the assassination of Sheikh Yassin.
Translation of Gush Shalom press release - sent out early morning.
Our call to join today's Peace Now protest
Uri Avnery on the assassination of Sheikh Yassin
Avnery: "It is Worse than a Crime, it is Stupid!"
"This is worse than a crime, it is an act of stupidity!" commented Gush Shalom activist Uri Avnery on the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
"This is the beginning of a new chapter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It moves the conflict from the level of a solvable national conflict to the level of religious conflict, which by its very nature is insoluble.
"The fate of the State of Israel is now in the hands of group of persons whose outlook is primitive and whose perceptions are retarded. They are incapable of understanding the mental, emotional and political dimensions of the conflict. This is a group of bankrupt political and military leaders who have failed in all their actions. They try to cover up their failures by a catastrophic escalation.
"This act will not only endanger the personal security of every Israeli, both in the country and around the world, but also the existential security of the State of Israel. It has grievously hurt the chances of putting and end to the Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Muslim conflicts."
Avnery mentioned that in the early 1980s the occupation authorities encouraged the founders of Hamas, hoping that they would create a counter-weight to Yasser Arafat and the PLO. Even after the start of the first intifada, the army and the security services gave preferential treatment of Hamas. Sheikh Yassin wa arrested only a year after the outbreak.
"There seems to be no limit to the stupidity of our political and military leaders. They endanger the future of the State of Israel." ~~~~~~~~~~~ Translation of Gush Shalom press release - sent out early morning
The assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, with its concomitant careless killing of passers-by, is a mad provocative act by a government which lost all restraint. It is the act of a pyromaniac fireman whose method of putting out the fire of terrorism is to pour barrels of gasoline upon it, an act which might cost the life of dozens or hundreds of Israeli citizens in the near future.
Prime Minster Sharon's talk of "withdrawal from Gaza", which had caught the headlines in the past months, is now revealed to be no more than meaningless chatter. Far from seriously meaning to evacuate even a bit of occupied territory, this bankrupt prime minister - faced with police investigations into a myriad of corruption concerning himself and his sons - seems determined to bequeath to his country a legacy of eternal war with the Palestinians and the entire Arab and Muslim World.
Every day that this man remains in power poses a grave danger to the future of Israelis and Palestinians alike. Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, calls upon all sane and responsible forces left in the international community to intervene, urgently and forcefully, to save our region at the edge of the abyss and halt the monstrous cycle of bloodshed which now threatens to engulf us.