Jewish World Review March 23, 2004 / 1 Nissan, 5764

Robert Stewart

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The killing of a ‘moderate’ | It comes as no surprise that terrorism thrives in the Middle East when leaders of terrorist organizations who send women and young boys on suicide missions to kill other women and boys are praised as "moderates." And there should be no doubt as to the Palestinian Authority's commitment to stability and security in the region when Yasser Arafat mandates three days of official mourning with flags at half-mast after the founder of such an organization is killed. When terrorists are state-sanctioned heroes, it's time to reevaluate the seriousness of the Palestinian Authority's demand for a "peaceful coexistence" with Israel. Their true colors are showing, and they're Hamas green.

Official Palestinian reaction to the death of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin Monday is a stark reminder of why the stated aim of the Palestinian Authority-a state of its own-goes unrealized. Nearly two years ago, President Bush made clear in a Rose Garden speech that if Palestinians were to realize a state of their own Arafat must be replaced by "leaders not compromised by terror." But Arafat is still in power, Hamas has free reign under his aegis, and the nexus between PA leadership and terrorists evidenced in the response to Yassin's death is perilous.

Though a terrorist, Yassin was cheered as a hero in Gaza for his group's violence. Despite Hamas' responsibility for hundreds of civilians deaths, Palestinian leadership refused to publicly denounce his actions-or take action of their own against him. In fact, it was the Israelis, not Palestinian security forces, who removed the cancer in Yasser Arafat's own backyard.

This inertia against homegrown terror is no new development. Arafat's government long knew that Yassin was a terrorist, knew what his organization was about (nearly the entire free world has Hamas on a list of terror organizations) and knew where he lived. But rather than take action, they sought accommodation. Rather than ask for assistance in removing Hamas, the Palestinian Authority obstructed efforts by others to end the organization's grip on the region.

Hamas has taken "credit" for hundreds of civilian deaths, pledged to drive Israel into the sea, and has allied itself with two state sponsors of terror and the world's most wanted man. Its most recent operation killed 10 civilians and wounded 20 others in the port city of Ashdod on March 14, and was carried out by two teenage boys. And in January, the group sent Reem Raiyshi, a mother of two, on a suicide mission that killed four people. Yassin praised her death and the deaths she caused, saying such actions are the "obligation of all Muslims, men and women."

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Yet when missiles from an Israeli helicopter ended Yassin's life Sunday, Ahmed Qureia, the Palestinian Authority's Prime Minister, said Yassin was "known for his moderation." It's chilling to consider Qureia's definition of an immoderate leader.

Though Hamas has a charitable wing and is often more effective in governance and infrastructure in Palestinian areas than the PA itself, its philanthropic efforts in Gaza is cold comfort for families of Israelis (and Palestinian "collaborators") torn to pieces by Hamas bombs or mobs. If "moderate" means killing civilians one day, and feeding others the next, then certainly even Osama bin Laden himself is a moderate in the eyes of the PA. This is ridiculous, and the single largest barrier to a Palestinian state.

Terror cannot be controlled, contained or rationalized. It must be eliminated. Israel is already being condemned in many quarters and won no friends among those who see Hamas' terror strikes as a justifiable response to Israel's existence. And Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is already receiving official condemnation from world leaders currently safe from Yassin's brand of evil. Yet if it was these leaders, their nations and their children being immolated by the hundreds, what would their response to Hamas be? Would they do what Israel has done, or would they continue to trust their security to "moderates?"

JWR contributor Robert Stewart, a former Army intelligence analyst, is now a writer based in Washington, D.C. Comment by clicking here.


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12/30/03: Bush Doctrine, often derided, is paying dividends in peace
11/24/03: Isolationism does not breed immunity
11/10/03: President Bush, like Eisenhower before him, is signaling the beginning of a new epoch
10/21/03: Is this war being won? You bet, just don't ask the congressman with the embarrassingly bad timing

© 2004, Robert Stewart