25 March 2004

Newsday.com: Palestinian Intellectuals Urge Calm:
By Associated Press
March 25, 2004, 4:48 AM EST

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Sixty prominent Palestinian officials and intellectuals urged the public Thursday to refrain from retaliation for Israel's killing of a Hamas leader, saying it would ignite more bloodshed that would hurt Palestinian aspirations for independence.
A half-page advertisement in the PLO's Al-Ayyam newspaper called on Palestinians to lay down their arms and turn to peaceful means of protest to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The ad reflected growing sentiment among many Palestinian leaders and intellectuals that military struggle is not helping the Palestinian cause. Thousands of Palestinians have died during three and a half years of fighting with Israel.
Hamas' founder and spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin was killed in an Israeli airstrike on Monday, prompting an outpouring of outrage on Palestinian streets. Hamas has promised to strike back, saying even Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a target.
Hamas has carried out dozens of suicide bombings over the past three and a half years, killing more than 300 Israelis, according to Israeli officials.
The intellectuals who signed Thursday's ad -- including lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi and Abbas Zaki, a leading member of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement -- said such revenge attacks would lead to a strong Israeli retaliation and further hurt the Palestinian cause.
The group called on the public to 'rise again in a peaceful, wise Intefadeh (uprising.)' While saying the 37-year occupation must be brought down, they asked the public to reconsider the benefits of a violent struggle. "
Finally, something worked! This is the most promising news I have heard out of the Middle East in a long time. It doesn't look like Hamas will agree with this view, however they did at least withdraw their threat to retaliate against the United States (assuming they are telling the truth). Instead they are reinventing the Passion Play, Palestinian Style.