When the news reached him that Abdel Aziz Rantisi had been killed Saturday night in Gaza City by an Israeli attack, MU Professor Michael Grinfeld wasn’t surprised.
“The tactical shift that’s now occurred in Israel is very significant, and it will change whatever outcomes occur in the region,” he said. “What’s clear is that the Israelis have run out of patience.”
Grinfeld had the opportunity to speak with the then high-ranking Hamas political leader on Aug. 9, eight weeks after Rantisi was hospitalized when three Israeli Apache helicopters attacked him. Grinfeld was in the Middle East gathering information for his journalism class about covering terrorism.
“I was really very committed to bringing the voices from the region to my students,” he said. “I wanted to be sure that in interviewing him he had an opportunity to express his viewpoints because it was my intention to essentially have each of the people I spoke to be guest lecturers in my class.”
During the interview, Rantisi “said with a great deal of confidence and cavalier attitude that he felt Hamas was a very popular organization, and that despite the fact many number of Hamas leaders had already been killed, that the organization would continue whether he lived or died,” Grinfeld said.
Grinfeld said his students were intrigued that they could watch someone they had seen in a video in their class become the leader of Hamas. Now, he said, they’ll be intrigued because the events keep progressing.
“It’ll give the class a certain sense of immediacy that people are acting and living and dying as the class progresses,” he said. “It’s not very often that you get to live history in the making.”