- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The United States, rightly unsparing in its efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, whose al Qaeda operatives killed 3,000 Americans on September 11, is in no position to criticize Israel for assassinating Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas. Yassin is lionized in certain quarters of the media as a Muslim spiritual leader, but his enduring legacy is the skill he exercised to motivate Muslims to kill Jews by killing themselves.

Since the current war began on September 29, 2000, Hamas, under Yassin’s leadership, has carried out more than 400 attacks, in which it killed 377 Israelis and wounded 2,076 others. (This would be equivalent to killing nearly 19,000 Americans and wounding 100,000 others over 41 months.) This includes 52 suicide attacks, in which 288 persons were killed and more than 1,600 wounded. Civilians, not Israeli soldiers, were Yassin’s preferred targets. Teenagers at discotheques, families dining at pizzerias, students and workers on commuter buses and families sitting down for Passover seders were among those killed in terrorist bombings blessed by Yassin and carried out by Hamas.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Yassin had become a bin Laden for the Israelis. That’s why the reactions from the State Department, which described itself as “deeply troubled” by the killing of Yassin, and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who calls the Israeli action “illegal,” are fatuous and morally empty.

Israel is embroiled in an existential conflict with Hamas — a terrorist group committed to wiping the Jewish state off the map. Just as the United States is determined to kill bin Laden and senior al Qaeda operatives before they kill more Americans, Israel understands that it must do the same to Hamas’ leadership. “It is the natural right of the Jewish nation, as it is the right of any people,” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rightly said, ” … to hunt down those who wish to exterminate them.”

After Israel jailed Yassin for ordering the kidnapping-murder of Israeli soldiers in 1989, it tried the conciliatory approach with this arch-terrorist. In 1997, during the Oslo peace negotiations, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat successfully persuaded Israel to release Yassin, arguing that he would work to subdue violence. He did precisely the opposite, and used his freedom to travel to Saudi Arabia to raise money to finance more terror.

Defenders of Hamas argue that terrorism is only one part of the Yassin story, that the extensive network of schools and social services managed by Hamas are more important. They misunderstand the reality that for Hamas — like other fascist movements — such services are to lure the unsuspecting, and for exerting control over them. (Mussolini’s Fascist Party and Hitler’s Nazi Party provided extensive social services, too.)

Yassin’s social work was similar to “the good works” of Mafia boss Al Capone, renowned in certain neighborhoods for his contributions to Chicago charities, such as helping orphans and the poor. But Capone was a thug and a murderer, who destroyed untold lives — just like the properly executed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

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