Daniel NIsmanDaniel Nisman is an Argov Fellow for leadership and diplomacy at the IDC Herzliya. He works for Max Security Solutions, a risk consulting company based in Tel Aviv. He is a former soldier in the IDF special forces and founder of the IDF activism website www.friendasoldier.org.
The recent killing of Osama Bin Laden has once again brought the world’s biased, hypocritical attitude towards Israel back to the limelight. Israeli commentators have been quick to point out that the West reacted with elation and support after America killed its arch-terrorist nemesis Bin Laden, while consistently condemning Israel when it eliminates its own terror threats in same fashion.
At the focus of debate is the reaction to the killing of Ahmed Yassin in Gaza in 2004, with the images of the remains of the crippled Sheikh’s wheelchair plastered all over the BBC and CNN at the time.
In a moment which will go down in history next to the victory over the Japanese, in WWII, jubilant crowds of college students, army veterans, and working class Americans amassed in the streets to celebrate the death of Bin Laden; It made to ponder the international reaction to Israel had we celebrated the death of Imad Mugniyah or Ahmed Yassin.
Recalling the aftermath of the Yassin killing, there was an absence of street parties, cheering crowds, and nationalistic chants. The lack of such overt jubilation doesn’t mean Israeli’s didn’t care about Yassin’s death or that it didn’t affect them personally enough to spark such emotion. The reaity is quite the opposite. Yassin was responsible for ordering gruesome terrorist attacks which affected nearly every Israeli on a deeply personal level. For decades,
Yassin’s organization fired rockets, blew up cafés and shot children at point blank range, using every bit of their imagination to kill Jews. During the height of the intifada, it came to the point where every single Israeli had either a close encounter with a suicide attack, or had family or friends that were victims of one. Needless to say: Killing the terrorist mastermind and symbol of death – Yassin - meant just as much for Israelis as killing Bin Laden did for Americans.
So why don’t Israelis pour into the streets when their own Bin Ladens are killed? The answer to this question is a true testament to our age-old value of life over death. For us, the death of even our worst enemy has never been a cause for mass jubilation. In fact, the last time Israelis gathered to celebrate an event related to our conflict was the night of Rabin’s death. The advent of peace caused thousands to mass in Rabin square in Tel Aviv to sing songs of peace, and to celebrate what for us was the only potential victory our decades old conflict—the prospect of peace.
The deaths of Arafat, Yassin, and even Imad Mughniyeh, never were cause for the burst of elation that the American public displayed in the recent days, although there was a feeling of pride and silent joy. Not even the most extreme right wing elements of Israeli society celebrated publicly in our enemies’ deaths.
But one thing is for sure, if there is ever a real peace agreement; Rabin Square will once again be filled with jubilant, singing Israelis.
Today, the same liberal elements of Western society that are so quick to criticize Israeli society are criticizing the American public’s flamboyant reaction to the death of their version of Yassin and Mughniyeh. Whether or not the world is hypocritical in its reactions to Israeli targeted killings, the world is indeed hypocritical in not crediting the Israeli public with acknowledgement of how it truly values peace.
If history is any proof, as one Bin Laden or Yassin is killed, more will follow.
When Israel achieves its next victory in eliminating these figures, will the world take notice of their reaction?
Or will the international community’s hypocrisy continue to reign supreme?
Unfortunately, statistical trends point to the latter outcome as being the more plausible.