As an American of Palestinian descent and of the Christian faith, I never cared much for the ultimate goal of Hamas to establish a religious state in Palestine. But I find myself absolutely angered, baffled, and shocked at Israel’s decision to assassinate Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
What is even more baffling is the U.S. response even though Israel’s own Arutz Sheva confirmed that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon personally commanded the extra-judicial killing.
The United States on Thursday vetoed a United Nations resolution condemning the assassination even though our own Arms Control Export Act prohibits U.S. weapons from being used to break international law.
‘It is very important that everyone step back now and try now to be calm in the region. There is always a possibility of a better day in the Middle East and some of the things being talked about by the Israelis … might provide new opportunities,’ National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice told NBC’s ‘Today’ show.
‘I would hope that nothing will be done to preclude those new opportunities from emerging,’ she added.
Basically, Rice was implying that if Palestinians react, they would be held responsible for any fallout. Unbelievable.
One thing is certain about the extra-judicial killing of the blind and quadriplegic Hamas founder: a seemingly unreachable peace is now practically guaranteed anytime in the near future. Ariel Sharon is not ‘stupid’ as many around the world are saying. Nobody is that dumb. Palestinian retaliations are expected. And the Israeli Defense Force will use the retaliations as an excuse to kill more Palestinians. It is a script that has played itself out for the last 3 and 1/2 years.
Each round becomes more deadly and each round has far-reaching effects. There are now more than 700 Israeli checkpoints in the Israeli-Occupied Territories. A wall is being built that has imprisoned many Palestinian villages and towns. The economic siege continues and a British report now compares the Palestinian malnourishment levels to those in Africa. Still, the Palestinians have not been deterred from demanding freedom and independence.
Would it have been nice to resolve the conflict at the negotiating table? Sure, but Israel sought to circumvent international law and hand out the carrots it wanted to give. The reasons for the current uprising for freedom are many — all of which any human being can understand, and most definitely any American. Freedom from occupation would be a good start. Freedom: from having their olive orchards uprooted, a source of income for many; from having their homes demolished; from Israeli military checkpoints between every Palestinian city, that hold people up from two to six hours; to be children as opposed to fighting like adults so that they are not subject to the same humiliation their parents are; of the same kind of security that Israelis want for themselves.
Three million Palestinians have tolerated the denial of these freedoms for more than three decades, overwhelmingly and without incident. They ought to be commended for their restraint all of these decades. There are an occasional few young men who can no longer bite their lip, however. The results are often tragic. It’s been said that there is no enemy greater than the one who has nothing to lose.
There is an expectation that Yassin’s death will put a stop to the Palestinian uprising (Intifada) for freedom. Or that Yasser Arafat can somehow put a stop to the Intifada. But the Intifada is bigger than Sheikh Yassin. It is bigger than Yasser Arafat. It is most certainly bigger than Ariel Sharon. It is about the human spirit and the desire to be free. The famous Patrick Henry quotation, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ is actually very applicable in the case of the Palestinian Intifada. Unfortunately, Israel seems to believe that ‘might makes right.’ The killing of Yassin is yet another sign of this.
Rice was right when she said voiced her optimism that there is always a possibility of a better day in the Middle East. When Israel ends the Occupation and implements UN resolutions as other nations are expected to, a better tomorrow may just be realized.