Jewish World Review March 24, 2004/ 2 Nissan 5764
Richard Z. Chesnoff
I'm not shedding any tears for Sheik Ahmed Yassin
Critics say Israel's decision to hit Yassin was a strategic error - it was bad
timing and will provoke more violence. I disagree. There is no good time for
such a strike, and terrorists need no excuse to kill the innocent.
It was Yassin who sanctioned or personally ordered almost every one of the major
terrorist raids in Israel in recent years. Nearly 1,000 Israeli men, women and
children died on buses, in cafes, in synagogues or in their own homes. It was
Yassin who taught an entire generation of young Palestinians to hate, inspiring
teenagers to abandon their families and become human bombs. It was Yassin who
gave the stamp of approval to using female suicide bombers in violation of his
I remember my first interview with him. It was winter 1988, during the initial
intifadeh. With the help of an Arab journalist, I had tracked down his secret
home in one of the countless alleys and warrens of Gaza. It was a cold, wet day,
and the quadriplegic sheik, surrounded by a handful of his faithful, was huddled
in his metal bed, all but buried beneath an enormous pile of blankets and
comforters. Only his head stuck out.
Maybe that's why his speech was so particularly fiery that day and the message
I remember asking him what Hamas' conditions were for peace and whether Israeli
withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza would be the first step toward a
At first, I heard what was almost a giggle. Then his squeaky voice grew sharper and louder: "Make no mistake, there will be no peace as long as there is a Zionist-Jewish state. Our holy goal is to liberate all of Palestine, and if the Jews do not go, they will die. All of Palestine is Islamic land - every inch."
There it was - Yassin's spiritual philosophy in a nutshell.
It was the same the next time we met: No peace with Israel. That position never
changed. It is still the core of Hamas policy, as well as of other terror groups
like Islamic Jihad. They will never rest until Israel is destroyed.
That is why I believe that while moderate Palestinian leaders like Prime
Minister Ahmed Qureia may be shedding public tears for Yassin, they should
privately rejoice. Hamas and the other terror gangs represent the greatest
challenge to their authority and should have been arrested months ago.
With the evil sheik dead, the Palestinian Authority has an opportunity to
consolidate its power and crack down on terrorism. It also may be the moment for
reasonable Palestinian political leaders to find a way to rid themselves of that
other great hindrance to peace: Yasser Arafat.
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