It’s hard for me to believe, even though I consider myself pretty hardened to the murderous acts of governments, especially the governments of Israel and the United States, but the murder by missile of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in the streets of Palestine represents an escalation in incredulity in those countries’ war on the Arab and Muslim peoples. Not only did they kill a man in a wheelchair, but they killed him and seven others with a missile more restrained militaries use on whole city blocks.
Now, I’m a secular human and consider religion and politics to be an incredibly volatile mix. As any reader knows, this is not a singular opinion, nor is it inaccurate. Indeed, the history books and the newspapers are full of conflicts fueled by this exact mix. Nonetheless, one is a fool if they don’t acknowledge the fundamental role Hamas plays in the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. That being said, it is apparent to most of the world that this murder was intentional and designed to provoke not only an end to any kind of “roadmap” to peace, but to create the conditions for all-out war between the Israeli occupiers and the Palestinian resistance. The religious nature of Hamas and other non-secular groups within the Palestinian resistance is now secondary to the need for solidarity among all resistance organizations. Just like the US war on Iraq seems to be forming alliances among former enemies who are all opposed to the US occupation of their country, Ariel Sharon’s ongoing war on the Palestinians is creating alliances amongst the various groups in the Palestinian resistance.
Although the rest of the world is virtually unanimous in its disapproval, Washington has said nothing to condemn this cowardly act. Not that I’m surprised, of course. Despite their denials of any foreknowledge, the lack of regret indicates that Bush and his henchmen consider Yassin’s death to be a good thing. It also proves that there is no real desire for peace in Washington unless that peace comes solely on Washington’s terms. Even if the US had no prior knowledge of this murder, it is their support of Tel Aviv’s ongoing actions in the Territories that created the space for Sharon’s military to commit this act.
What happens next is up in the air, although it is certain to be bloody. If I were an Israeli, I would be in the streets demanding Sharon and his cabinet step down immediately. If I were a Palestinian, I would be in the streets demanding justice. Not revenge, but justice. Unfortunately, in the current dynamic maintained by Israel and Washington, sometimes revenge seems to be the only outlet, since justice has been made more elusive than peace and less likely than death.
Leaders of the West wonder why desperate men and women blow themselves up along with hundreds of others. Others around the world wonder why those same leaders kill men in wheelchairs.
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is being republished by Verso.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org