March 26, 2004
A discussion on "Donkeys
Party" academic list
on the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin.
Abdee Kalantari: Opening question
Ahmad Sadri: Decoy duck
Valentine Moghaddam: Constrasts in "spirituality"
Opening question: Suspicious
I noticed a suspicious silence among donkeys over this Monday's
big news, the assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin. Does
this mean a gut feeling of indifference or even satisfaction but
a politically correct silence with occasional obligatory words
like, "Violence does not stop violence?" Or contrarily
you root for Yassin now that he is a 'martyr?'
After all, Iranian secular intellectuals are too familiar with
clerical fascism to describe it as 'spiritual leadership.' Yassin
was as much a spiritual leader as our own illustrious Fallahians
and Jannaties and Rafsanjanis, not to mention Khomaini himself;
mullahs with so much blood on their hands that it would take an
eternity for an International tribunal to try to execute some kind
of justice on them. Yassin could have stopped blowing up busses
and restaurants and libraries in Israel if he wanted to. But he
sanctified holly terror as a way to martyrdom and heaven.
have you noticed that Iranian newspapers, including the reformist
ones, never report on the deaths of Israeli citizens, less they
might arouse some sympathy for Israel? Has there been any reformist
figure or public intellectual in Iran openly and courageously condemning
the murder of Jews in Israel or anywhere else in the world?)
Of course, Yassin assassination would exacerbate the holy terror
and we will possibly witness more mayhem and suicide bombings in
Israel and around the word. Paradoxically it nourishes political
Islam. Abu Abeer, another Palestinian militant leader, just said, "They
have opened the gates of hell. For us, everything is now permissible
after this assassination."
Yes, for Islamists everything is
permissible. From a pragmatic point of view, condemning this
kind of assassination by the Israeli death squads is similar to
the US bombing and occupation of Iraq (and the mission of Task
Force 121 there and in Afghanistan - CIA target assassination
of oppositional figures): it does not bring peace nearer and it
not make anybody feel more secure.
But if one day you wake up and hear the news of one of those
big fish 'spiritual' leaders of the Islamic regime, say a Fallahian
or Jannati, being surgically removed from the face of the earth,
would you shed tears for him? I know a few Iranian souls who rooted
for Saddam when he was caught in the rat hole with lice in his
bushy hair. "May you join the martyrs and the prophets in
heaven, you are a martyr," Yassir Arafat said, reciting Muslim
prayers for Yassin. Does anybody agree? Do you feel the same way?
Moderator, Donkey's Party
Fisk on the assassination
Task Force 121 - CIA "Apprehension of High Value Targets"
* Guardian commentary on the assassination: The Calculus of Killing
* Haaretz on the price of such assassinations
No wonder donkeys are subdued. The events of past few days evoke
complex and conflicting emotions and thoughts. On the one hand
no illusions about Yassin as a fundamentalist clergyman of "Salafi" persuasion.
Very much like his messianic Jewish and Christian counterparts,
he condones, indeed, advocates terrorism and shows no
interest in political compromise based on somewhat diminished
expectations. As such, he is a dangerous and irresponsible political
leader. On the other, he has come to symbolize, for a variety of
reasons, the anger and frustration of the underdog in an unequal
bloody war of independence.
I just noticed I am speaking of Ahmed Yassin in the present tense;
brings me to my second point. He is not gone. He is made into a
martyr, thanks to the folly of Israeli hawks bent on committing
international community has repeatedly condemned as "extra
In my eyes, Ahmed Yassin was a human version
of a decoy
duck, you know, the wooden replicas hunters float to fool the
descend; a paraplegic frail old man in a white garb, looking
Hollywood director's vision of Moses: the fearless fanatic preacher
calling his people to walk with him into the desert.
He spoke and
preached out in the open, as if daring the Israelis to put him
his misery; so hundreds of thousands of oppressed, frustrated,
humiliated, unemployed, and angry youths could add another poster
their superstar martyrs gallery and try snug dynamite belts on
Israelis took the bait; as a result Israel is less secure, Palestine
more desperate, and some factional political points are scored
right wing government proposes to relinquish Gaza. It is all
But we know all of this. May be that is why we are silent. There
is nothing here we don't know and very little on which we would
Associate Professor of Sociology
Texas Women's University
Constrasts in "spirituality"
Both Abdee and Mahmoud make excellent points. The situation in
Palestine does indeed appear hopeless, and the ceaseless violence
sides repugnant. To me, the Islamization of the Palestinian resistance
been the most dispiriting aspect of all, though of course Israeli
intransigence and various machinations have a lot to do with turn
nature of the movement. And what kind of a spiritual leader religiously
condones or even encourages suicide bombings? I can only constrast
his "spirituality" with that of Desmond Tutu or the late
and lamented Oscar
Romero of El Salvador.
I think Iranian leftists and liberals have a distinctive perspective
matters, and it is rather a pity that our focus on Iran keeps us
our views to a broader international audience. For example, I have
concerned that much of the progressive commentary in the aftermath
Madrid terror attacks focused on the US/UK war and occupation of
injustices of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza,
and the need
to end war and occupation.
This is entirely appropriate, but what
condemning the violence of Islamists? There has been a tendency
to play down
the Islamist challenge and a reluctance to acknowledge the threats
rights, women's rights, and norms of non-violence on the part of
Islamists. I know this first-hand from having attended a meeting
of the anti-war coalition here in London last fall, where several
denied that Islamism was a real problem.
And at the huge anti-war
London last November, I was most disheartened to hear a speaker
Muslim British Association lead the crowd into chants of "Allah-o
(Massoud had already told me that this was likely, as he had heard
at a previous demonstration.)
Since for us, allah-o-akbar conjures
of marauding hezbollahi in Iran (in addition to which, it is
the war cry of
violent militants everywhere), I may be forgiven for having decided
attending the more recent anti-war demonstration in London.
Associate Professor of Sociology
Illinois State University
. .................... Spam?! Khalaas!