Thursday, May 05, 2011

Bin Laden versus Yassin

Op-ed: Hypocritical world that slammed killing of Hamas’ Yassin now
lauds bin Laden hit
Manfred Gerstenfeld

The flurry of international reactions to the killing of Osama bin
Laden by the American army provides Israel with a great opportunity to
demonstrate the double standards applied against it by so many in the
Western world and elsewhere. All one has to do is compare the
reactions of major institutions and leaders with those after the death
of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. This leader of the Hamas terrorist
organization was killed by Israel in 2004. He was directly responsible
for many lethal attacks on Israeli civilians including suicide
bombings. On Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that "the
death of Osama bin Laden, announced by President (Barack) Obama last
night, is a watershed moment in our common global fight against
terrorism." Yet after the killing of Sheikh Yassin, then-UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan said "I do condemn the targeted assassination of
Sheikh Yassin and the others who died with him. Such actions are not
only contrary to international law, but they do not do anything to
help the search for a peaceful solution.”

The now-defunct UN Commission on Human Rights condemned “the tragic
death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in contravention of the Hague Convention
IV of 1907.” At the Security Council, the US had to use its veto power
to prevent condemnation of Israel.

After the bin Laden killing, the leaders of the European Council and
European Commission stated that his death made the world a safer place
and showed that terrorist attacks do not remain unpunished. Following
the Yassin killing, then-EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana said,
"This type of action does not contribute at all to create the
conditions of peace. This is very, very bad news for the peace
process. The policy of the European Union has been consistently
condemnation of extra-judicial killing."
British Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated President Obama on
the success of the bin Laden assassination. Cameron considered it a
massive step forward in the fight against extremist terrorism. Former
Prime Minister Tony Blair also welcomed bin Laden’s demise.

However, the killing of Sheikh Yassin was called by the then-British
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw “unacceptable” and “unjustified.” The
official spokesman of then-Prime Minister Blair condemned the
“unlawful attack“ and observed: "We have repeatedly made clear our
opposition to Israel's use of targeted killings and assassinations.”

A case of anti-Semitism?
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed Bin Laden’s killing as a
coup in the fight against terrorism. He called President Obama,
praised his determination and courage and all others who had pursued
the head of al-Qaeda for 10 years. Sarkozy added that the two heads of
state had agreed to continue the just and necessary fight against
terrorist barbarity and those who support it.

Yet after Sheikh Yassin’s death, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman,
Herve Ladsous, said, “France condemns the action taken against Sheikh
Yassin, just as it has always condemned the principle of any
extra-judicial execution as contrary to international law.” Foreign
Minister Dominique de Villepin declared that “such acts can only feed
the spiral of violence.”

German Chancellor Angel Merkel said at a recent press conference, “I’m
glad that killing bin Laden was successful.” She also called it “good
news.” Then Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer had stated after the
killing of Sheikh Yassin that “the German government is deeply
concerned about the development.”

Russia released a statement regarding bin Laden which the Voice of
America quoted as saying that retribution inevitably reaches all
terrorists and that Russia is ready to “step up” its coordination in
the international fight against global terrorism.” After the Yassin
assassination, a foreign ministry spokesman said that Moscow was
deeply concerned about the situation.

President Abdullah Gul of Turkey declared that the killing of bin
Laden was a message for terrorist organizations all around the world.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had called the killing of
Yassin “a terrorist act” and said that “the assassination was not

This comparison gets even more meaningful when seen in the context of
the definition of anti-Semitism as regularly used in the European
Union. It was prepared by one of the EU agencies. It gives examples of
the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the
State of Israel, including the following: “Applying double standards
by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other
democratic nation.”

Israel could considerably improve its public diplomacy by using the
comparison of the two killings and other comparisons of events which
occur with great frequency to stress such double standards. This is
one of the many ways that Israel can fend off at least part of the
unjust criticism against it.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has published 19 books, several of these deal
with anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism

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