by Stephen McDonald,
Communications Consultant, Canada-Israel Committee
In response to the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, world leaders justifiably issued statements of support for the American operation. The international consensus is that justice has been served, a major blow has been delivered against terrorist forces, and the world is a safer place – even in recognition of ongoing threats from Al-Qaeda.
When Israel killed Hamas co-founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 2004, the global response was much different. In fact, the commonly used term was "condemn", as country after country asserted its opposition to targeted killings – both in principle and in this specific case.
Brian Smith of the Montreal Gazette published a compelling piece today on this glaring double standard – click here to read more. At the same time, The Israel Project, a highly reputable non-profit organization based in Washington and Jerusalem, issued a side-by-side comparison of international reactions to the two killings.
In his uncompromising pursuit of "holy war", Sheikh Ahmed Yassin ordered numerous attacks against civilians, including a horrific suicide bombing campaign that lasted for years. Under Yassin's leadership, hundreds of Israelis were murdered by Hamas. His killing was a matter of life-and-death for Israelis – a policy of self-defense no less than that of the decision to kill bin Laden.
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Yassin's own organization, Hamas, issued its own statement following bin Laden's death – condemning the killing of what they consider "an Arab holy warrior".