Peering into the Abyss
William J. Thomson, Ph.D.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
March 23, 2004
It is impossible to imagine a more provocative act than yesterday's assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin by Ariel Sharon's government.
The response to this action is absolutely predictable and well understood by Mr. Sharon, and it is totally consistent with his policies and actions over the past several decades.
I believe that this brutal killing is the major escalation that will ultimately lead to an attempt by Mr. Sharon to kill or forcibly expel the majority of Palestinians from historic Palestine.
Many military campaigns begin with a feint, and clearly Mr. Sharon's February statement to unilaterally evacuate Gaza may be seen in that light. To raise a glimmer of cautious hope among a humiliated and repressed Palestinian population, and then to crush it by brutally assassinating the single person who many Palestinians, especially those in Gaza, recognize as THE symbol of their struggle, virtually guarantees the violent Palestinian response that Mr. Sharon will use as the justification for ethnic cleansing.
It did not have to be thus. Repeated overtures by the Arab League, leading Palestinians and even Sheik Yassin himself offered significant concessions to Israel as a basis for a peaceful and just resolution to this struggle. Many years ago I received assurances from significant figures in HAMAS that a resolution of the conflict similar to that proposed a year ago by the Arab League would lead to settlement. Yet Mr. Sharon and a majority of the Israeli public consistently dismissed these overtures in the most derisive terms.
Faced with ageing and charges of political corruption, but most importantly recognizing the demographic reality of a majority Palestinian population in Israel/Palestine within a few years, Mr. Sharon has chosen to fight the battle now, on his terms, rather than allow even the possibility of a negotiated settlement. To not recognize Mr. Sharon's genocidal plan, and his ruthless repression of those who have toiled with nonviolence to provide an alternative vision, is simply pathological denial.
And what of America in this process? It is naive in the extreme to assume that we will emerge unscathed from this coming conflict, and I hold the American political and Jewish establishment to be primarily responsible for any actions directed at American citizens. I know that I will be labeled anti-Semitic for this statement (as have all of us who have in some way placed our bodies on the line to help resolve this conflict), but there comes a time when it is crucial to speak truth to power. Without the unstinting support of the American Jewish establishment and its stranglehold on the American political process in all matters involving Israel, the decades-old occupation of Palestine and the humiliation of its people could not have occurred. Let me be perfectly clear--the efforts of AIPAC and its supporting American Jewish establishment (including those who could, but have neglected, to thwart this process), and the craven thirst for power of American political figures who allow themselves to be manipulated by this body, will ultimately be held accountable for their actions, with consequences too horrible to contemplate.
Can anything be done at this point to prevent this catastrophe? Can Palestinians restrain their humiliated compatriots who are calling for violent revenge? Can moderate Israelis and American Jews find the strength to confront their own self-destructive establishment? Can American politicians and Mr. Bush summon sufficient courage and foresight to deal with the issue? And can American citizens do anything other than sit idly by?
Sadly, I think not. The bullet has been fired--can it yet be deflected?
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