First with the news, and the death of Sheikh Yassin

On Wednesday, I reported that Ha’aretz was covering a British programme of semi-military aid to the Palestinian security organisations in Gaza. By Saturday, The Guardian was running this.

“The British involvement is initially modest, limited to providing financial, logistical and other support on security matters to the PA. But if the pilot schemes are successful Britain intends to offer much more in the way of finance and personnel.

This would include sending security staff experienced in Northern Ireland and helping to rebuild the Palestinian security infrastructure, such as police headquarters and prisons, destroyed by the Israelis.”

Who says blogs aren’t the wave of the future? But enough basking. This morning, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, was killed by an Israeli air raid. (

details) This has brought the expected storm: of outrage in Gaza, self-congratulation in Tel Aviv, of diplomatic platitudes everywhere else. Certainly, Hamas are the big problem in terms of terrorist potential in Gaza. I’m sure Yassin bore some responsibility for Hamas’s actions, even though not even Ariel Sharon believes he had any operational role. But I doubt blowing up an elderly priest in a wheelchair will do anything at all to prevent further terrorist attacks. Not when they are willing to attack with axes. It wasn’t as if crazy-eyed kamikazes filed past his zimmer frame to personally draw explosives from his very hands. The argument for his assassination is that he “inspired” them. The problem with people who inspire others, as ideas, idols, icons, is that they don’t have to be alive. In fact, their symbolic power is often greater dead. The leader myth can only be exploded in the metaphorical sense, not the physical.

And if there is anywhere on earth that the power of martyrdom and the myth of the dead hero should be blindingly obvious, it is the Holy Land. You don’t need to go back as far as Christ – the dead Lebanese warlords whose recorded voices were broadcast daily by their factions’ radio stations through the 1980s to incite their followers are an equally harsh and much closer example.

Those British advisors’ job just got even worse.

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: