. . . Monday March 22, 2004

All Hands

On one hand, the killing of Sheik Yassin was to be expected. Israeli forces tried to kill him as recently as last Sept.

On the other hand, after years of suicide bombings and targeted killings, this is by far the highest ranking Palestinian leader Israel has killed in a long time.

Israel surely has the right to target the orchestrator of suicide bombings. On the other hand, it’s unclear that his death will make Israelis (or Jews in other parts of the world) any safer from terrorism, or if this is really part of a broader march towards anything but an endless cycle of violence. The Palestinians have taken to the streets and vowed revenge. On the other hand, you can’t really feign shock and expect world opinion to cede you the high ground when your core strategy in recent years has been to target women and children on buses and in cafes. Kofi Annan condemned the move by Israel saying: “Such actions are not only contrary to international law, but they do not do anything to help the search for a peaceful solution.” On the other hand, can you imagine any country other than Israel being criticized for killing a man who was essentially their bin Laden? On the other hand, what is the political impact of the killing of a person who preached martyrdom? Killing Yassin could cause an eruption in the Middle East. On the other hand, do you use kid gloves against a murderer just to avoid making anyone angry? On the other hand, does the tit-for-a-tat strategy make sense when you have clearly been unable to stop their tats? Whoever fills the Hamas leadership vacuum will be unlikely to have Yassin’s charisma and impact. On the other hand, did Arafat just move up another notch on the terrorism totem pole?

Anyway, you get the idea. In the Middle East, there is always another hand. And now fewer of them are being extended towards a handshake and more of them have tightened into a fist.

And once again, The Third Side gets the upper hand on the road away from peace.

Concentration is important!