Not In My Name Condemns the Assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as an Obstruction to Peace

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Saturday March 27, 2020

CHICAGO, March 27, 2004—The assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin by the Israeli government is a crime against the Palestinians and the Israelis.  The Israeli government has dragged many of its citizens unwillingly into a war to defend illegal settlements whose strategy includes unlawful extra-judicial executions.  Ariel Sharon, and the criminals with whom this offense was planned and carried out, need to face the judgment of international courts.

Such violence has a political strategy behind it that started long ago.  For decades, Israel has attempted to weaken and divide Palestinian national movement.  When Sharon was defense minister, Israel attacked the PLO in Lebanon, murdering tens of thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese civilians.  Israel's strategy was to destroy the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people so that it could claim that it had no one with whom to negotiate.  Still the PLO retained its influence among Palestinians; Israeli generals then aided Hamas in order to undermine this popularity. 

When the Intifada erupted in response to Israel's construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land during the Oslo peace process, Israel attacked the institutions of the Palestinian Authority.  This occurred though the PA had recognized Israel in the Oslo agreement and Palestinian security forces worked closely with the Israeli army to defend the settlements from attack.  In the spring of 2002, Israel destroyed much of the physical infrastructure of the PA, ensuring that it could not satisfy the material needs of its people.  This devastation meant that more Palestinians turned to Hamas for social services.  Palestinian support for Hamas grew.

This popularity made Sheikh Yassin, Hamas' founder, an extremely influential leader; as the spiritual leader of Hamas, he was able to instill discipline within its growing ranks.  Other Palestinian leaders were able to persuade him to call for cease-fires, which this discipline was able to obtain. 

Israelís leaders hope that in Yassinís absence, the Palestinians will no longer be able to count on Hamas to observe a ceasefire.  Time after time, the Israeli military has provoked Hamas by assassinating its leadership; Hamas was forced to end its cease-fires, at least two of which had lasted for 8 weeks.  During one action (July 22, 2020), Israel murdered 14 women and children sleeping in a Gaza building to prevent a cease-fire, brokered by the European Union, from being announced and taking effect.

As Israel has assassinated Palestinian leaders these past three years, their groups have splintered into decentralized factions led by militant leaders who lack political experience and diplomatic skills.  A new leadership may arise that is less amenable to ceasefires.

Sharon has now handed the most militant sectors of Hamas absolute veto power over the diplomatic process.  Israelis can anticipate constant attacks without any hope for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.  With Israelis under attack, Sharon will have an excuse to carry forth his brutal military operations within the Occupied Territories, where he plans to kill, imprison, and expel as many Palestinians as possible.

The Yassin assassination it is not Sharonís first war crime.  He commanded Israeli Unit 101, which massacred 150 inhabitants of Qibya, a Palestinian village, in 1953.  His complicity in the massacres of 2000 Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon caused the Israeli Supreme Court to rule that he should never again be allowed to serve as Israelís Minister of Defense.

Not In My Name condemns this assassination as a war crime.  We know that the result will be a river of blood, even greater inter-communal hatred, and even less chance for peace.  We believe that the Palestinians and Israeli deserve a chance to live in peace.

Not In My Name (NIMN) is a predominantly Jewish group that was founded in November 2000 to organize Jewish opposition to the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.  We support any process that creates the conditions that can lead to a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  We have categorically and consistently condemned all attacks on innocent civilians, be they Israeli or Palestinian.  Such crimes are both immoral and obstacles to peace.

We are committed to idea that that the future of both people is inexorably linked.  However, we have no illusions as to the imbalance in the relation of forces and the overwhelming suffering of the entire Palestinian population.  Israel is the occupying military power and the Palestinians are the ones who are being oppressed by a brutal military power within their own historic homeland.  Because we recognize that none of this would be possible without the military aid presented to the Israeli government by the U.S., we call for an immediate suspension of this aid until the Occupation ends.

It should come as no surprise if there are people who, in their frustration, haste, and outrage, identify each and every Jew with the policies and crimes of the Israeli government.  But let it be known: These do not represent the values of every Jew in the world, or of every Jew in Israel, or of every Jew in Chicago.  And they are certainly not the values of the Jews in Not In My Name.