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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

A Septic Needle

For most people around the world, the photographs told the story. A picture of a crippled, white-bearded man looking far older than his 67 years. Then a crumpled piece of his wheelchair and a large red bloodstain on the road where Israeli helicopter gunships sent three rockets to kill him … as the world would see it, the Israeli Goliath killed a frail, old David, and tens of thousands of embittered Palestinians vowed revenge – Steve Weissman
Anthony McIntyre • 8 April 2004

There is no end to the carnage in the Middle East. Every waking day we can put the kettle on for the news that will, as assuredly as the rising and setting of the sun, inform of us some life lost or another barbarity inflicted. For a large section of the populace constant fear and trepidation govern the mind as it tackles the daily grind of finding the next meal. To the outside eye the region has the appearance of Dante’s inferno, where the most fiendish act is not ruled offside. What passes for daily life there has no psychological resemblance to our own. As opposed to the invasion of Iraq as we may well be, the public spectacle of American bodies torn apart in the street in a frenzied act of ferocity repels our sensibilities. Perhaps, we will be lectured about succumbing to western bourgeois sentimentality for harbouring such emotions. Yet better to stand in the dock on that than to excuse the celebratory wanton destruction of other human beings.

But anti-American sentiment in the region has no monopoly on a mindset that is intent on ripping asunder the human form, as was all too evident in the Israeli state assassination of Sheikh Yassin. That action is being depicted by some as a calculated strategic strike against those who wish to obliterate the existence of Israel by blasting its citizens to smithereens. The historical record shows that in time of war executive assassination of one’s enemies has always figured in the deliberations of those who believe that the perceived evil they seek to remove is greater than the evil inherent in the act of removal or in the consequences that result from such action. The assassination of Reinhardt Heydrich in Prague in 1942 is a case in point. But Yassin was no Heydrich. And the occupation of Palestinian land by Israeli state forces bears more resemblance to the Nazi lebensraum concept than those activities of Hamas or the other Palestinian groups involved in political violence.

This has impacted little on the apologists for Israeli violence. Front Page Magazine in a bid to shock its readership into revulsion towards Palestinian political leaders carried graphic pictures of one Palestinian activist decapitated and dismembered by his own device, under the headline ‘The Children of Yasser Arafat and Sheik Yassin.’ It studiously avoided carrying pictures of the missile-ravished body of the paraplegic cleric. Yet the destructive impact of both Hamas ground attacks and Israelis strikes from the air on human flesh and bone is equally as devastating.

Israel’s Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed that Hamas might respond fiercely in the short term, but that ‘in the long term, they will be restrained because the leaders will know that they will be assassinated.’ This overlooks Israel’s own experience in the region. When it assassinated leading clerics in the Lebanese Hizbullah movement, the response it provoked was not one of restraint. Instead Hizbullah was propelled into even greater efforts to force the Israelis to withdraw from Southern Lebanon, an objective it achieved in May 2000 when, after 18 years of occupation, the invading power finally succumbed.

However, not all in the Israeli cabinet are as gung ho as Bibi Netanyahu. One minister who opposed the killing of Yassin, Avraham Poraz, speculated in its wake just how many Israelis would ‘pay with their lives.’ If the ongoing battle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for hearts and minds of the Palestinian populace has been marked by significant advances for the Islamists, how are the lives of Israelis safer now that Sheik Yassin’s death has removed him from the scene? An Authority long viewed as incorrigibly crooked pitted against those who epitomise some form of incorruptible ideological purity and who blossom on the blood of martyrs, will do little to stem the flow of recruits seeking martyrdom.

Regardless of what justification is put forward for the killing, the fact remains that whatever involvement Yassin had in directing Hamas’s military campaign, his role as a moderating influence helped secure a number of Hamas ceasefires over the past decade. Ahmed Qurei, the Palestinian prime minister stated that ‘Yassin is known for his moderation, and he was controlling Hamas.’ Furthermore, his building of a life-enhancing infrastructure for impoverished Palestinians around clinics, schools, welfare institutions, staffed by dentists, teachers, engineers and doctors, can only have helped persuade many Palestinians that life had a certain quality which it would be ill-advised to garrotte with a bomb belt.

The pragmatism that Sheik Yassin brought to Hamas, if replaced by even more ideological and religious fervour, may mould substantial opinion in Israel to the point of concluding that its government merely lanced a boil with a septic needle. And for those who live comfortably in the Western world under a US ‘protective shield’, an ill wind now beckons. The rage and horror experienced by many Muslims internationally over the slaughter of what they see as an elderly paraplegic cleric combined with a US attack on an Iraqi Mosque which caused 25 deaths has, in the words of one observer ‘made the world a more, rather than less, dangerous place.’





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

9 April 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Richard McAuley - 'a literary giant of our time'
Barney de Breadbin and Eamon Codswolloper


Hear, Hear!
Brian Mór


How Will Paisley's Rise Play in America?
Sean Mc Manus


Other Shoes

Mick Hall


A Septic Needle
Anthony McIntyre


Why More Will Hate More and Less Will Understand Less
Michael Youlton


Save the Hill of Tara
Seaghán Ó Murchú


5 April 2004


Following the True Tradition
Eamonn McCann


Sinn Fein - Sold a Pup: Martin Cunningham Interviewed
Anthony McIntyre


Going to the Flix
Brian Mór


Reports and Inquiries
George Young


State Department Flip-flop to Offset Cory?

Sean Mc Manus


Updating Capitalist Rule
Liam O'Ruairc


The Rush to Judgement: Binary Thinking in a Digital Age
Michael Youlton


"Poor people can't be engineers" - Free Market Corruption, Neo-Liberal Pretexts
Toni Solo




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