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The assassination of Ahmed Yassin by the IDF should certainly come as no surprise. Everyone understood that the days of Ahmed Yassin were numbered, since the Israeli government announced repeatedly that it was targeting Hamas leaders in Gaza. It is important to understand why Yassin was killed, because if we understand that, we understand a mechanism that underlies much of the history of the Jewish-Arab conflict.
According to an Israel army statement:
Yassin was a terrorist, but he was a "spiritual leader" and he was also an old cripple. He inspired and instigated murders, but he didn't carry them out. He was born in 1936 in Majdal (now Ashkelon) and became a refugee when Israel conquered Majdal in 1948. He lost the use of this legs in a soccer accident. He spent a year studying in Ein Shams university in Cairo, and perhaps it was there that he was recruited by the Muslim brothers. In 1970 he organized the al-Mujama al-Islami, which openned mosques, hospitals, libraries and did other philanthropic work, encouraged by Israel as a counterweight to the PLO. After the 1979 revolution in Iran, Yassin founded the Majd al-Mujahidin, a more radical group, and in 1987 he founded the Hamas, whose goal is to eliminate Israel. Yassin was tried and sentenced by an Israeli court to life imprisonment in 1989. This did not deter Hamas from carrying out a series of deadly suicide attacks throughout the years of the Oslo accords, with the purpose of preventing conclusion of any agreement with Israel. In 1997, Yassin was released from prison as part of a deal made after Israeli agents bungled an attempt to assassinate Hamas spokesman Khaled Mashaal in Jordan.
We should have no illusions about who was killed today. The nature of Yassin and of the Hamas cannot be obscured by euphemisms such as "militant" and "spiritual leader." Yassin was a racist who advocated genocide and conspired to murder innocent people. In a decent world, Hamas would not exist. The goal of the Hamas is destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement by an Islamic republic. Their charter cites the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion, claims that killing Jews is a religious duty and blames the 'Zionists' and the Freemasons for the French revolution and the Soviet revolution.
Some recent quotes from Mr. Yassin:
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said this morning that Ahmed Yassin was a moderate, and that his death would unleash the extremists in the Hamas. Considering Yassin's record and his statements, this may sound like a bad joke, but in the insane asylum of Middle East politics it carries the weight of truth. The assassination will not make the Hamas more reasonable. Hamas leaders were quoted as saying, Sharon has opened the gates of hell and nothing will stop us from cutting off his head.
Even more ominously, a statement faxed to Associated Press said:
The assassination of Yassin will not abate Palestinian terror or move us closer to peace in any way. Surely the Israel government understands this. The Hamas committed suicide attacks when Yassin was in jail just as well as they did after he was released. He is already being cannonized as a martyr, not only by the Hamas, and not only by the Fatah Al-Aqsa brigades, but also by the PNA itself. PNA television called Yassin a "martyr" and stated, This is a day that has bought the red blood and the pure body of the Sheikh, the crippled sheikh, who had led the Islamic resistance movement. They have no choice, because the death of even the most despicable person at the hands of the enemy turns him into an honored hero. If the PLO/PNA doesn't honor Yassin, they will be considered "unpatriotic."
So why kill Yassin? The assassination of Yassin is part of the macabre and ineffable logic of the Israeli-Palestinian war process. Targets and actions are not chosen because of their strategic value in the war against the enemy, but because of their importance in bolstering the prestige of a faction within each society. This is the ineffable logic we have been witnessing in action for most of the last 3 and a half years and longer. The bus bombings that occurred in 1996 were not directed against Israel but against the PLO. A peace agreement with Israel would weaken the Hamas and strengthen the PLO. Scoring points against "the enemy" strengthened the support of the Hamas, and the bombings helped ensure that Israel would never be able to make the political concessions necessary for peace. The "Second Intifada" was not started to "liberate Palestine" or to gain concessions from Israel, but rather to advance the interests of one PLO/Fatah faction, who allied themselves with the Hamas and other Islamists, at the expense of others. Sharon's walk on the temple mount was not meant to prove a point to Palestinians, but rather to unseat Ehud Barak, head of the Labor Party and it accomplished its purpose.
However, in reality, the same mechanism motivated much of the violence that characterized Jewish-Arab relations since 1920. The riots that Haj Amin El-Husseini organized in the 20's and the Arab revolt of 1936-9 were in a sense, part of a political campaign of the Husseini family and its supporters, to gain support in Palestine. More Arabs were killed by other Arabs in the Arab revolt than were killed by Jews. The terror raids of the Irgun/Lehi group, and especially the 1948 attack on the village of Deir Yassin, which ended in a massacre, were in part motivated by the need to compete for support with the mainstream Zionist groups. So what we are witnessing today is just another instance of the same insane logic that has driven the conflict since its inception.
The assassination of Yassin, and the entire campaign of assassinations that is taking place in Gaza now, are necessary for Sharon so he can get sufficient support in the Likud party and in his cabinet to pass his unilateral disengagement plan. Even if the Hamas reprisals that follow the assassination prevent the unilateral disengagement plan, the act is sure to boost the popularity of Sharon, which is failing due to the poor Israeli economy, charges of corruption, and Sharon's failure to bring "peace and security" as he promised. The assassination will no doubt boost the popularity of the Hamas as well.
Understanding how this mechanism works, we can appreciate why it has been so difficult to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Peace does not profit the leaders. Any leader who tries to make peace is vulnerable to charges of treachery and weakness. Any leader who continues the violence is lionized as a hero. No government and no leadership committed to peace can survive this logic. The same logic explains why Sharon would be willing to undertake unilateral disengagement, but unwilling to negotiate with the Palestinians and gain any concessions for the disengagement. Negotiations and peace and concessions are viewed as weakness.
Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000228.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to email@example.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.
Replies: 27 comments
The natural reaction is one of glee as a result of the assassination of one of the architects of Hamas and Co terrorism. However, on examining the possible repercussions in Palestinian street, the question that one ought to ask is: Was this such a wise move?
Sheik Ahmad Yassin was a spiritual leader to his supporters and to kill a spiritual leader can be very dangerous. It can only increase the motivation of the Hamas organization and its allies to further carry out terrorist attacks. Is this desirable in this very volatile part of the world?
There is no doubt that revenge will not take long in coming. At the moment hate and revenge rhetoric is running high and there will be an attempt to translate this rhetoric to cruel deeds.
It seems that the whole purpose of this operation was to improve Sharon's standing amongst the right wing members of his coalition and to take away the attention that he is receiving because of his own personal problems with the law.
Posted by Shimon Z. Klein @ 03/22/2004 12:24 PM CST
Ami, I take exception to your choice of words regarding the 1997 negotiations that resulted in Israel releasing Ahmed Yassin.
It is factually inaccurate to say, as you did, that 'Israeli agents bungled an attempt to assassinate' a particular Hamas spokesman.
1. Khaled Mashaal was a pubic and press spokesman for Hamas, but he was also a Hamas insider, a Hamas leader. No one cared about killing a press spokesman; it was the fact that he was an 'inner team' leader that was the concern.
2. The word 'assassinate' is not coterminous with 'kill.' The 'A' word applies to killings of heads of state not involved in military efforts, or other comparable civilians. Had Mashaal been killed, it would have been just that: the killing of a vicious Hamas leader. Whether this would have been militarily significant is a matter of judgment, but such a killing, while regrettable, would have been morally justified.
3. Most important, Israeli agents didn't 'bungle' anything. They used their best efforts to accomplish a mission that, for various reasons not all known to us, did not work. The mission was not successful, but this was not due to agents 'bungling' anything. They did their best.
In 1997, Yassin was released from prison as part of a deal made after Israeli agents bungled an attempt to assassinate Hamas spokesman Khaled Mashaal in Jordan.
Posted by Fredric M. Carlin @ 03/22/2004 02:18 PM CST
You wrote "He inspired and instigated murders, but he didn't carry them out". Neither did Hitler, Eichmann, or Bin Laden.
The poor spiritual cripple only headed a terrorist organization that send women and children as homicide bombers to slaughter innocent Jewish civilians.
Posted by mike levine @ 03/22/2004 05:50 PM CST
Ami Isseroff's observation that, "Peace does not profit the leaders" sounds a note of truth that is seldom spoken aloud. -- But I wonder what Peace is imagined to look like: for a Palestinian, is Peace 'the absence of Jews'? For a Jewish Israeli, is Peace 'the absence of Palestinians'?
Posted by Ruth @ 03/22/2004 06:12 PM CST
Aged 47 i've come to the conclusion that as long as israel exists to further western self interest in the middel east there can never be justice or peace for the palestinians or indeed any future for the muslim world. The islamic faith hampers the spread of failed western capitalist logic, that logic is provable as unsustainable ecologically and will lead to the continued and ultimate end of the planet we recognise today. As a graduate educated individual i find myself today for the first time in my life contemplating donating money to the continued existence of an outlawed organisation who fight for the rights of an oppressed minority, ie. Hamas. The state of Israel has shot itself in the foot with this latest act of folly and the tide is turning against so called western democracies.
Posted by Britishwhitemale47 @ 03/22/2004 09:52 PM CST
Sheik Ahmad Yassin a spiritual leader? I would say more like a cult leader. He belongs alongside the likes of the "Rev." Jim Jones, Charles Manson, et.al. There is no void left where he once was, and the cries of the Palenstians for revenge are softened by the knowledge that this poor, "disabled" zealot has a voice no more. Sad to say, but the world is closer to peace than it was before.
Posted by B.C. @ 03/23/2004 01:05 AM CST
This was not about getting rid of an enemy of Israel. This was about the Israeli govt publicly flexing it's muscle.
Posted by Rolf Tremayne @ 03/23/2004 04:15 AM CST
Some might say that Bush has inspired and instigated murders through his wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and through his country's economic and military support of Israel.
and Ruth - I quite liked your comments. She would indeed take it away
Rolf - cheers! I wish that more people who thought like you were in positions of power. Bush should take note.
Posted by An Earth dweller @ 03/23/2004 08:02 AM CST
To Britishwhitemale47, who claims to be a graduate educated individual, your comments belie your so-called education. You obviously have "learned" under the grasp of extremely biased liberalism. To suggest that Western democracy left unchecked will lead to the ultimate destruction of the planet is idiotic. Go ahead and donate to Hamas or whatever terrorist organization you choose (on behalf of the world's oppressed). This makes you no better than these terrorists, but then people who think like you are as much a danger to a civilized society as the cold blooded killers of Hamas.
Posted by Roberto Guisseppe @ 03/23/2004 09:37 AM CST
Regarding the comment by Britishwhitemale47, I find your logic a bit misguided. Granted, the First World countries are doing much to wreck havoc on the planet however, declaring your support for groups like Hamas and other Islamic extremists is not the solution. Most, if not all of these organizations are quite fascist in thier politics, repressive of women's rights, gay rights, freedom of speech and human rights in general, unconcerned with the state of the global environment, pro-violence, pro-war and intollerant of views that run contrary to thier own ideologies. How can a so-called educated person believe that such organizations are the future's salvation? I do not agree with my government's (Israel), policies regarding the conflict with the Palestinians nor do I agree with many of the policies of other Western governments however to lionize an organization that promotes terror and the murder of innocents is simply ignorant and an affront to those who truly wish to bring about a peaceful and sane change in the world
Posted by N. Barshlomo @ 03/23/2004 07:46 PM CST
After reading the article and the following posts, I think the people who vote or elect these leaders (morons) to power are the people at fault. They do not think rationally before electing these individulas to power. Instead they are herded and stampead like cattle off of a cliff to serve the politicians own interests. If people could step back, realise that their religions do not give them the right to kill another human being, the bloodshed would not only stop, but maybe there could be peace for them and their families.
May god help us all in these troubled times.
Posted by Raj R. @ 03/23/2004 09:39 PM CST
every one who said that ahmed yaseen is terror is a terroresm
Posted by sallam @ 03/23/2004 11:35 PM CST
all the terrorists must die, or change their ways.
May we never surrender to the terror, freedom for everyone!
Posted by yes_im_swedish @ 03/24/2004 01:11 AM CST
As the article suggests, while it appears that Palestinian and Israeli actions and counter-actions are designed to bolster the prestige of each faction within each society, the ultimate responsibility lies with the Western world's failure (particulalry since Munich in 1972) to categorically reject and stand up against terrorism and terrorist organizations.
Unfortunately, there will be no peace anywhere - as the recent Madrid bombing prove - until we are all united (including France and Germany)in our stand against terror. We must make everyone understand that terrorism in any form and perpetrated for any reason will not be tolerated and will never be appeased or rewarded. Only then will the cycle of violence be broken.
Posted by Dan (USA) @ 03/24/2004 02:29 AM CST
You Palestinians and all Muslim Arabs must swallow something. Until the average Muslim fights fundamentalist terrorism, it will be true that all of Islam is a religion of terror.
Posted by scott @ 03/24/2004 04:09 AM CST
Targeting civilians is cowardly, not godly!
One day we will give it up because it doesn't work.
Posted by Sonny @ 03/24/2004 06:12 AM CST
I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT I AM READING!!!!! WHAT IS THE POINT IN KILLING YASSIN? ISRAEL KNEW WHERE HE WAS . WHY DIDNT THEY GO IN UNDERCOVER AND ARREST HIM? NO!!! THEY WANTED TO MAKE A POINT , TIT FOR TAT !!!!! THRE IS NO REASON OR LOGIC FOR THIS CRIME, KILLING A CRIPPLE IN A WHEELCHAIR? YES I BELIEVE THAT YASSIN WAS A TERRORIST , BUT IF WE BELIEVE IN KILLING THE TERRORIST WHO ORDER THE BOMBINGS, THEN SHAORN IS A TERRORIST AND WE SHOULD UNITE AND HAVE SHARON TERMINATED. HE ORDERED THE KILING OF INNOCENTS , BYSTANDERS AND DOES IT IN THE NAME OF GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM ANS SECURITY. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THIS MY JEWISH FRIENDS !!! I REALLY FEEL FOR YOUR PEOPLE, YOU HAVE SUFFERED ENOUGH , IT IS ABOUT TIME THAT THAT THE JEWISH PEOPLE SHOULD LIVE IN PEACE AND SECURITY. THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM IS NOT THE SAME FIGHT THAT THE US IS DOING , WE ARE NOT OCCUPYING A PEOPLE, WE NEVER DID . WE WERE ATTACKED INNOCENTLY AND COWARDLY. THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE ARE FIGHTING FOR THEIR HOMELAND THAT ISRAEL TOOK AWAY FROM THEM. YES ISRAEL WON THE 6 DAY WAR YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR. I HEAR THIS ALL THE TIME . BUT ISRAEL HAS NO RIGHT TO KEEP THIS LAND THAT WAS NOT GIVEN TO THEM BY THE 1948 BALFOUR PARTITION ( I MAY HAVE THE YEAR WRONG) ISRAEL HAS THE DUTY TO RETURN THE LAND THEY TOOK BUT THEY SHOULD IN RETURN GET SOMETHING BACK ( PEACE ) SOMETHING THAT EVERY ISRAELI GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO DO . YOU OPPRESS A PEOPLE AND THEY JUST HARDEND EVEN MORE !!!!! EVOLUTION CANNOT MOVE FAST ENOUGH TO TAKE CARE OF THE TERRORIST SHARON , SOMEBODY HAS TO !!! EVERYONE PLEASE UNDERSTAND THIS , SHARON IS MAKING YOUR BED AND YOUR CHILDREN (ISRAELI AND PALISTINIAN ) WILL HAVE TO SLEEP IN IT AND PAY THE PRICE. WHAT EVER SHARAON DOES THE CHILDREN WILL PAY DEARLY. IT IS UP TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL AND PALESTINE TO CHANGE THE COURSE OF THIS MADNESS BEFORE IS IT TOO LATE .
Posted by Steve @ 03/24/2004 06:55 AM CST
The current situation in the Middle east and the greater muslim world bear histroicaly sinsiters accuracies with events in the past century except with religion as its core.
World War I was fought between the Old empires of Europe with nationalism and empire as its main casues. 4 years o f total war and 60 million dead.
World War II was fought between the Facists governments and the Democraices of the west and the rising power of communism. 6 years of total war with 50+ million dead.
The Cold War - 45 years on constant rivalry with the world tinkering on the brink of nuclear destruction. Countless regional wars fought and supported by both the Communist East and Democratic West. Total causulties who knows.
And now i fear that a new war is upon us. Not a war on terror but a war that will reshape this planet that has not been seen since the end of World War II.
There is a good resone why the the muslim world is so far behind in technologicaly and economicaly. As long as Governemts continue to link there relgion with Politics it will never change. There must be a seperation of power where the church does not influence public thinking. This happened in Europe hundreds of years ago and lead rise to the modern democraceis of today. The people of the Middle east need to stop blaming others and solve there own problems. Who did europe have to blame when they struggled through 2,000 years of constant fighting amongst them selves and foriegn invaders. Stand up for yourselves but not with guns and sucide bombers reform your goverments befor it is to late.
If this does not happen, i can see only one outcome. The time will come when a massive terrorits strike in Europe or the US or both will force the West to intervene massivly in the Middle East. When i mean massivly i mean total war, a war that is waged to destroy every government and nation that supports terrorists. It wont be a war fought in the US or Europe it will be fought in and around your homelands with casualities much like the previous two world wars. Only then after years of war and millions of dead, and suffering so great you will come to believe that it is simple not worth keeping these petty differences and learn to live and respect each others relgions and rights.
You may believe that you can win such a war but you are wrong, you cannot oppose the might of the entrie free democratic world, Sucide bombers are not knew Japan has used them for thousands of years in its Samuria code, and in much larger numbers.
Humans seems to be slow learners, we only change our societies and nations after great castraphoies and wars, its seems as though the Middle east will learn this lesson in the not to distant future.
I believe all Humans every where have the right to be free, not told what religion to worship, or what government to support. No governemt or religion has the right to demand or expect loyality. It is up to the individual to choses which religion or government they wish. Governemtns are here to serve the people not to serve them selves and there own self intrests.
Until this goal is acheived there will never be peace. Some times peace can only be found on the other side of war.
Lets us hope that the moderates in the Middle east are sucessful and can avoid needless bloodsheed.
Posted by Mike8472 @ 03/24/2004 08:53 AM CST
In reference to Steve (03/24/2004). Your comment is biased and factually wrong, thus your conclusion is absurd and ridiculuous.
The Jewish people do not need 'friends' of your ignorant sort, that make uneducated decisons in much the same way as Britishmale47 does. Israel has tried to make peace, I always believed in the policies of peace and justice, in human dignity and in the polices of the Isreali that believes in two equal free states. However as Camp David demonstarted, only once all militant terrorists like Yassin and so-called moderate 'terrorists' like Arafat die or are eliminated or drastically change their desire to kill Israel will there be peace. Until then, Israel will have to protect itself and continue to wage a just war of self defence by builiding security walls, putting up entry barriers to Israel, and destroying any terrorist or terrorist organisation that threatens the lives of innocent Israeli men, women and children.
Posted by Jacques_South_AFrica @ 03/24/2004 11:07 PM CST
MAKE 2 COUNTRYS AND THEN SORT OUT THE DIFFERENCES AND IF YOU HAVE TO BUILT A STRAIGHT WALL FROM TOP TO BOTTOM
Posted by m gilboy @ 03/25/2004 03:25 AM CST
You got a very good point there.
Posted by DAn @ 03/25/2004 04:03 PM CST
If one is looking to combat any kind of terrorism, the ordinary historical rules apply: for so long as the men of violence can point to genuine grievances of a significant segment of the population, they will have the passive support of that part of the population and it will be impossible to contain them by the means considered acceptable in a civilised society.
Therefore it is necessary first to redress the grievances and thus detach the men of violence from their passive support. Then, and only then, the ordinary criminal justice procedures have a chance of success.
Ami Isseroff's comments have much validity. Sharon knew full well that the murder of a 66 year old quadriplegic and his entourage with missiles from a helicopter gunship would contribute nothing to the defeat of the intifada.
Sharon also knew full well that the Bush Administration, which claims the right to do exactly the same thing when that suits its purposes, could not say or do anything other than to voice the usual platitudes callling for "restraint on both sides".
We are sliding inexorably towards a long-running "Crusaders -v- Jihadists" conflict with the likely playing fields being the urban centres of Western Europe.
Considerations of human rights and civil liberties will go by the board in an effort to assure basic security - to no avail.
Just as the phenomenon of Al-Quai'da is seen by many as the unintended consequence of the proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the unintended consequence of the Bush 'n' Blair so-called "war on terror" may be the end of the 20th Century ideal of liberal democracies living in multi-racial and secular harmony - in short a new Dark Age or a new fascism.
Whether one examines the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood or of the Likud, one is indeed forced to the unpalatable conclusion that fascism is what they are all about.
Are our memories so short that we have forgotten the wages of fascism ?
Posted by Mourad Fleming @ 03/25/2004 11:37 PM CST
i am not agree of what happen to ahmed yassen he cannot move or do any thing u name what happen is victory i think he is victim
Posted by sara mohamed @ 04/02/2004 11:46 PM CST
Killing Sheik Ahmad Yassin was a foolish move as was the USA's refusal to condemn it. Israel's defense of this act, as I understand it, can be summed as: "The Sheik was responsible for terrorism against Israel. We will continue to kill anyone who endorses, supports or sponsers terrorism. It is our right." I think that sums up their position. But built into that statement is the idea that the only way to preserve Israel is to kill millions and millions of people since most Islamic people do support terrorism against Israel (Until recently I felt that most Islamic people did not support terrorism against the USA but the invasion of Irag has changed that.) Any realistic plan for the survival of Israel has to consider a formula for reducing Islamic rage and not just the killing of all those who support Palistinian terrorism. If one responds by saying that it's impossible to reduce that rage I would answer it's also impossible to kill all those who support Palestinian terror. At least a sincere attempt at a peaceful solution (one without constant assassination attempts) would gather some international support for Israel and give Muslim moderates an outlet for expression. Another defense I hear frequently from my fellow Americans is that if we have the right to go after bin Laden, Israel has the right to whack the Sheik. But that statement doesn't take into consideration hard politcal realities. The USA has the "right" to go after bin Laden because they've got the muscle to do it. "Might is right" may be a cliche and amoral but it's very true. Israel only has the "right" to assassinate it's opponents as long as the USA protects it. And although it does appear right now that the US support for Israel's more outrageous acts is inexhaustable, I'm not so sure that will be so after another year of disasterous news from Iraq and elsewhere. Eventually even Americans will start connecting the dots.
Posted by Richard J. Stewart @ 04/05/2004 03:51 PM CST
It is very interesting to read the comments posted by friends here. i would just like to add a few words to already much illustrated and well explained points of view. i agree with Mike8472 and Steve. We must, as Muslims and individuals, ask ourselves if it is right to kill innocent people, whatsoever their religion may be? Nowhere in Quran does Allah say that the killing of innocent men, women, children and elderly is justified....whatsoever the reason be. And when I say "innocent" I mean those people who have nothing doing with politics, religion or the killing of other people. Everytime I see a picture of some dead child in the arms of his/her parent, my heart crushes. Only a parent of a dead child knows how it feels to lose a son or a daughter. I appeal to all governments and political and religious leaders....In the name of your God, PLEASE STOP ORDERING AND BRAIN WASHING YOUR FOLLOWERS TO KILL PEOPLE, SPECIALLY THE INNOCENT ONES. It does not help solve the problem nor does it serve any purpose. Human life is precious and we all humans should learn to respect that before it is too late and millions more are victimized.
Posted by Asim Siddiq @ 04/09/2004 06:33 AM CST
let the women and MOTHERS sit at the table of peace...Palestinian and Jew....
Posted by nada @ 04/12/2004 02:15 PM CST
Posted by stefan @ 04/12/2004 09:48 PM CST
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