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An insane policy.

Byline: The Register-Guard

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting to get different results, Israel's policy of assassinating its enemies in order to enhance its safety is certifiable straitjacket madness.

It is hard to imagine that many Israelis will sleep better tonight having witnessed the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who streamed into Gaza's streets Monday chanting "revenge, revenge" as they mourned slain Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin. Indeed, Israel's extrajudicial execution of Yassin with a helicopter gunship Monday could breach the bloody cauldron of the Middle East and threaten Americans, as well.

As rival Palestinian militant groups pledged solidarity with Hamas, leaders of that terrorist organization charged the United States with complicity in the assassination and proclaimed "All the Muslims of the world will be honored to join in on the retaliation for this crime."

Is anyone feeling safer yet? Unlikely. All diplomatic efforts are in disarray. This latest administration of gunship justice pretty much dooms the increasingly irrelevant U.S. "road map to peace." Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon aren't on speaking terms anyway.

Once again, the United States stands apart from the world in failing to condemn the killing of Yassin. President Bush's ineffectual response, delivered via the State Department, is, "We are troubled." America's staunchest ally in the global war on terror knows a state-sanctioned hit when it sees one. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the assassination "is unacceptable, it is unjustified and it is very unlikely to achieve its objectives."

Even taking the extreme Israeli position that Yassin's killing could be justified as a necessary retaliation to a brutal man's open supervision of terrorist acts, assassinating Yassin works against almost every Israeli objective. It erodes security and will incite many additional suicide bombers. It confers instant martyrdom on Yassin, something he had repeatedly said he sought. It further isolates Israel in the world community and weakens its U.S. support.

Most troubling of all, the assassination could draw Muslim militants worldwide into a confrontation with Israel. Yassin was revered as an Islamic leader, not only as the head of the second-largest political movement in the West Bank and Gaza. One Israeli legislator said Yassin's killing had "opened a front against Islam, not just against the Palestinians."

Israel's eye-for-an-eye security strategy will never achieve its stated objective of making the nation's citizens safe from terrorist attack. Only one thing will: Leaders on both sides of this bloodbath must find the courage to talk face to face without first needing to even the score.
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Title Annotation:Editorials; Israel's assassination of Hamas leader a mistake
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 23, 2004
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