Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
The Yassin Assassination

A Monstrous Insanity Blessed by the US

by WILLIAM A. COOK

Madeline Albright, this past Tuesday, offered the 9/11 Commission her recommendations for dealing with terrorism in the coming months and years. She made no mention of Israel and no Commissioner asked her about Israel. Yet the ink still ran on every front page around the world reporting on Sharon’s insanity at unleashing American missiles (more than one!) to savagely murder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, an unarmed, deaf, half-blind, crippled, 67 year old paraplegic being pushed in a wheelchair! Does it not strike any sane individual, Comissioners included, that this act by our blest "man of peace" does more to raise hatred against America than any failing by our benumbed President who sat immobile in a classroom while New York burned? Sharon, with this monstrous act, declared war on America on behalf of Hamas. Sharon unilaterally burned the "Road Map." Sharon crucified America, sacrificing it for his own political interests.

This last in a series of "extra judicial executions," a euphemistic way of avoiding the true word, "assassination," buries justice beneath the mailed foot of the 21st century Medieval King who reigns by terror and brute force. We’ve created a new Dark Age! Rage determines behavior; rage becomes its own justification; rage liberates the beast to devour at will. But what is good for the beast is equally good for its intended victim; all kings become targets of fanatical rage justified as "extra judicial executions." After all, one individual’s "good" is another’s "evil" and we have made acceptable the individual as judge, jury, and executioner.

The world community abhors this state of affairs, yet the world’s body, the UN, does nothing about it. Where is the condemnation of Israel for its illegal action? Where is the Security Council resolution citing Israel for flaunting the Geneva Accords and mocking human rights? Where is the United States Congress and Senate condemnation on behalf of its people of such a heinous act by a government that we support to the tune of 10 billion a year? Why do we cower before Sharon’s bluster as he unleashes our $300,000 dollar missiles from our F-16 aircraft to kill a helpless man and the innocent that become victims of his vengeance? Why do our leaders not address the most obvious and glaring reason America is targeted by terrorists: the aggressive use of massive force by the state of Israel, using American supplied ordinance against a defenseless people, while its leader, Ariel Sharon, deifies, mocks, and ridicules the President who is responsible for providing him the means to enforce his invasion and occupation of territory belonging to another people?

The entire world has stated its objection to Israel’s intrusive militaristic policies; the entire world has stated that Israel is the principal cause of terrorism in the world; the entire world has marched against Israel’s incarceration of these hapless people behind Sharon’s "Wall of Fear," yet this nation stands aside, stuttering mealy mouthed platitudes that Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorists and, after all, Israel is our only friend in the mid-east. If Sharon’s action in hunting down a man in a wheelchair and hurling missiles of massive destructive capability at him, missiles larger than the intended victim, knowing that by this act he was sowing seeds of fanatical hatred in the community of the deprived and deranged, than I would suggest that Sharon is the enemy of America not its friend. How can our lawmakers listen to the chorus of countries that cry to us to stop Israel’s intentional rousing of terrorism, intentional unsettling of any moves toward negotiation, intentional belittling of America and the UN when they utter, submissa voce, that perhaps the Wall should not be built, and intentional defiance of the UN for over 50 years, and stand like deaf mutes before an oncoming train of destruction?

It takes no genius to understand what Sharon has created by his kingly decision to determine in his own mind that a particular individual is a murderer and terrorist and deserves to die. He has given license to those who see him as evil personified to kill the "elected" leader of the state of Israel, and, by extension, the right to execute the "elected" leader of the state that supports his terrorism, George W. Bush. More than this: Sharon’s witch hunt for the terrorist mind embedded in the frail frame of a 75 pound paraplegic who, would you believe, threatened the fourth largest military state in the world, opens the gates of Hell for those religious fanatics that believe right-wing Zionist zealots and American Christian Zionists like Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, John Hagee, and Jerry Falwell, have blasphemed against the Quran and deserve to die; and Sharon has shown them the avenue to pursue, hunt them down like animals and take them unexpectedly as they emerge from their respective citadels of worship.

Bush and Sharon have co-opted the right to preemptively kill anyone that does not agree with their determination of who is evil, who threatens their respective states, and who poses a potential threat to their capitalistic systems. It’s all in Bush’s "National Security Strategy Report" of September 2002. This is our new rule of law! This is the advance of civilizations into the 21st century.

Consider what might have been the civilized way to deal with Sheik Yassin. Israel had done this twice before. Arrest him. Why did Sharon not drive a "handicapped" van to the Mosque to pick him up, take him to a detention center, submit allegations of murder, inciting to riot, and unjustified creation of a militant organization, and let an international court sit in judgment to find him guilty or not guilty? Nothing prevented Israel from taking Yassin at will. Indeed, they have been on a new rampage of invasion of Gaza this very week; bringing Yassin to "justice" in the traditional western way would have been but a diversion. Such action would have forced the world to listen to the allegations and address Israel’s righteous outrage against Hamas. Should the allegations prove true, the world would have to accept, perhaps with reluctance, Israel’s on-going fight against fanatical terrorists. Such behavior would have created a positive atmosphere about Israel and America, in both the Arab world and around the world, that would go a long way to dissolve the bitterness and hatred that is fueling vengeance and retaliation.

But Sharon knows that America is in the midst of a 9/11 inquisition that fills front pages and TV screens; he knows that Europe is consumed, and rightly so, with the bombings in Spain; he realizes that the people of the United States are more concerned with the rising death toll and continued waves of destruction taking place in liberated Iraq than with events in Israel. Knowing these realities, he is free to act undisturbed by a beleaguered George Bush. And Sharon does not want peace or a Palestinian state; he wants all of Palestine for his Jewish state and he wants the Palestinians out of Palestine. If this action does not show the Bush administration that Sharon is a liar, nothing will.

Consider this. If Sharon acted unilaterally, without US knowledge, to murder the Sheik knowing that he was placing America in the midst of a religious war, then he is a traitor to the country that supports him because he has put America in jeopardy; if he contacted our President before he decided to murder the Sheik and received no objection then our President willingly acceded to an act that would enflame the mid-east and raise America’s fear of terrorism to a level unforeseen heretofore.

If it is not the responsibility of the 9/11 Commission to investigate why America became a target of fanatical zealots in 2001, it should be because Sharon’s execution of the Sheik endangers America and begs for a meaningful understanding of why fanatics hate us. Fanatics find fault with America because it supports a regime that occupies Arab land, a regime that knowingly defies the United Nations and has done so over a fifty-year span of time, a regime that refuses to return that land to its indigenous people. These fanatics watch America over the years control puppet governments in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan while we control the natural energy resources of their states and they remain in poverty. Fanatics understand that America needs Israel as its military weight in the mid-east, a state that condemns their religion and considers their race inferior. This Commission needs to ask why Madeline Albright made no mention of Israel, indeed, they must ask themselves why they do not raise the specter of Israel as a possible cause for terrorism against America. Sharon’s monstrous insane act demands it.

William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His new book, Psalms for the 21st Century, was just published by Mellen Press. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU