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January 23, 2004 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-01-23

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Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:
ewishnews . co m

WWW. detroitj

Dry Bones

A Sheik In The Crosshairs


op Israeli officials have signaled anew that
they are again targeting the leader of
Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, for assassina-
tion. They shouldn't.
It is not that Yassin does not deserve to die. He
has without an ounce of shame sent suicide
bombers to attack Israeli civilians and soldiers, and
he has said that Hamas will never rest until the
Jewish state is eradicated. Far from being a "spiritu-
al" leader — as he is often styled in the captions of
pictures showing him in the wheelchair to which he
has been confined for half a century — he is a
vicious, malevolent killer. If Israel had known exact-
ly how implacable he was in his hatred, it surely
would never have released him from
prison in 1997, after he had served eight
years of what had been a sentence for life.
Since then, Israel has tried several times
to kill him, generally in response to yet another ter-
rorist atrocity that Hamas arranged. Last September,
it bombed a Gaza City apartment building where he
was meeting with other Hamas leaders. He escaped
with a light wound . because Israel used too small a
bomb, in an effort to avoid exactly the sort of civil-
ian casualties that he delights in inflicting on Israeli
Targeting Yassin is not an issue of morality.
Killing him could be justified either as an act of
revenge for the destruction he has already wreaked
or as an efficient way to decapitate the Hamas lead-
ership and make it less able to carry out further
attacks. Most of the civilized world would be as
pleased to have him gone as they were to have
Saddam Hussein deposed or his brutal sons killed.
Indeed, the Palestinian people as a whole would
be a lot better off without the sheik and his swarm.
What good, after all, did it do them to have Reem
al-Reyashi, a 22-year-old mother of two children,


blow up herself and four Israelis
at the Erez crossing in Gaza last
week? It cost thousands of
Palestinians the opportunity to
work in Israel while the crossing
was closed. Because she falsely
cited medical problems to get
around the inspectors, the
bombing will undermine real
Palestinian emergency medical
claims for expedited treatment.
Al-Reyashi can hardly become
a model of Islamic virtue since
she reportedly was forced into
the suicide as a way to
atone for having sul-
lied family honor by
conducting an adul-
terous affair. And, of course, the
brutal act didn't affect Israeli
determination not to be terri-
Still, killing Yassin would
probably not advance Israel's
security. It would give him the
martyrdom that he has repeat-
edly said he seeks and it would
surely incite other bombings by
Hamas members intent on
vengeance. Better by far to try
to capture the sheik alive and
toss him back in the jail where
he should have been kept to
begin with. It would be difficult
to seize him, no doubt, but
think of the impact it could
have on his followers to show him Saddam-style as a
Israel should not lose sight of its goal, which is to



reduce the level of violence and to give the
Palestinians time to come to their senses. Targeting
Yassin for death would have the opposite effect. ❑

End The Preoccupation


New York Jewish Week


Ann Arbor
srael advocacy on campus has become a
front-burner enterprise for the. American
Jewish community. Attacks .by
anti-Israel campus activists, including
a fair-number of Jewish students and
faculty, demoralize and often intimi-
date most Jewish students who are
ill-equipped to counter these efforts
to de-legitimize Israel. It is a mark of the Jewish
community's growing concern that more than 25

national organizations are now involved in train-
ing campus activists to defend and promote Israel
and thereby inspire Jewish students to feel a sense
of pride in themselves and the Jewish state.
But as well intentioned as the efforts of the
growing coalition of Israeli advocacy organiza-
tions are, I believe that if we win this
battle, we will have lost the real war,
which is not for Israel's security but for
the hearts and minds of this generation
of young American Jews.
Let me explain. In the post-Six-Day
War euphoria, most of us could not see what
growing numbers of Jewish college students have
come to believe and even Israelis on the political
right are now admitting: We have been blind to
the corrosive effects — as well as the demograph-
ic threat to Israel's democratic and Jewish identity
— of the decades of what even Prime Minister


Michael Brooks is executive director of the University of

Michigan Hillel. This column is reprinted with permission
from the originating publication, the New York Jewish
Week (www.jewishweek.com) and the author.

Ariel Sharon has called "the occupation," however
unwanted it may have been and however intransi-
gent most of the Arab world has been about com-
ing to terms with the reality of Israel and ending
the suffering of the Palestinian people.
Arguing, as so many Israel advocates do, that
Israel's behavior is less immoral or problematic
than that of her neighbors, or even other democ-
racies at war, is factually correct, but is not likely
to restore a sense of boundless Jewish pride in the
almost 90 percent of college-age Jews who attend
universities in North America.
Most of them are, indeed, as Israeli Minister of
Knesset Natan Sharansky characterizes them, the
Jews of silence — not simply because they are not
up to winning the campus debates with Israel's
enemies but because they have largely tuned out.
Most of these students, from my experience

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