Saturday, September 15, 2007

War Crimes: From Sabra and Shatila to Gaza

16 September, 2007

Today marks 25 years. Twenty-five years since 3500 unarmed men, women and children were brutalised and massacred in cold blood in Lebanon in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. The massacre was carried out over three days in 1982 from September 16 to September 18 by the rightwing Lebanese Christian milita, the Phlangists, under the direction of the Israeli Defence Force headed by Ariel Sharon.

In the wake of the Nakba (the catastrophe) - the 1948 partition of their homeland - and the subsequent invasion and occupation of what was left of it in 1967, Palestinian refugees fled in fear of their lives to safety in Lebanon. It was in the refugees camps that Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) grew up, as the Palestinians - dispossessed, forgotten and abandoned by the world -no longer were content to remain silent. Instead, like so many other “un-people”, they began to fight back and demand not only the restoration of their homeland but justice and Al Awada (return).

In 1982, supposedly in retaliation for the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador in London, Israel invade Lebanon. The assassination attempt, however, was not carried out by Arafat’s PLO but by a rival militant group. Israel, who wanted to oust the PLO from Lebanon, used the attempted assassination to launch an invasion supposedly in the name of destroying the PLO. On 6 June 1982, Israel began its invasion and occupation of Lebanon, sending in more than 60,000 troops.

On September 14, Bashir Gemayel, the President of Lebanon and leader of Kataeb - the right-wing Christian nationalist party, known as the Phalange - was assassinated. The assassination was carried out by a member of the Syrian Nationalist Party, however, Israel’s Defense Minister at the time, Ariel Sharon, decided to use the assassination attempt to make a push to occupy West Beirut.

On September 15, the Israeli occupying force surrounded the twin refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, with the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) command stationing itself in a number of highrise buildings, allowing them a panoramic view of the two camps for the next three days. From September 15 through to September 16, Israel carried out non-stop shelling of the two camps, which was home to 20,000 unarmed Palestinian refugees. On the afternoon of September 16, 150 Christian Phalangists, trained by and under the direction and control of the Israeli forces, entered the camps. The Israeli military cordoned off the camps ensuring no-one could escape. For the next 40 hours, with the full knowledge and cooperation of the Israel military, the Phalangist forces tortured, brutalised, raped and massacred the unarmed inhabitants of Sabra and Shatila.

On September 18, the first western journalists were able enter the camps. They saw first hand the tortured and mutilated bodies of the refugees. Robert Fisk, one of the first foreign journalists to enter Sabra and Shatila wrote that what he and his fellow journalists found what could only described as “a war crime”

In his book, Pity the Nation, Fisk recalled that:

“Jenkins and Tveit [fellow journalists] were so overwhelmed by what we found in Chatila that at first we were unable to register our own shock. Bill Foley of AP had come with us. All he could say as he walked round was "Jesus Christ" over and over again. We might have accepted evidence of a few murders; even dozens of bodies, killed in the heat of combat. But there were women lying in houses with their skirts torn up to their waists and their legs wide apart, children with their throats cut, rows of young men shot in the back after being lined up at an execution wall. There were babies - blackened babies because they had been slaughtered more than 24-hours earlier and their small bodies were already in a state of decomposition - tossed into rubbish heaps alongside discarded US army ration tins, Israeli army equipment and empty bottles of whiskey”.

Fisk went on to recounted how:

“Down a laneway to our right, no more than 50 yards from the entrance, there lay a pile of corpses. There were more than a dozen of them, young men whose arms and legs had been wrapped around each other in the agony of death. All had been shot point-blank range through the cheek, the bullet tearing away a line of flesh up to the ear and entering the brain. Some had vivid crimson or black scars down the left side of their throats. One had been castrated, his trousers torn open and a settlement of flies throbbing over his torn intestines”.

“The eyes of these young men were all open. The youngest was only 12 or 13 years old. They were dressed in jeans and coloured shirts, the material absurdly tight over their flesh now that their bodies had begun to bloat in the heat. They had not been robbed. On one blackened wrist a Swiss watch recorded the correct time, the second hand still ticking round uselessly, expending the last energies of its dead owner”.

“On the other side of the main road, up a track through the debris, we found the bodies of five women and several children. The women were middle-aged and their corpses lay draped over a pile of rubble. One lay on her back, her dress torn open and the head of a little girl emerging from behind her. The girl had short dark curly hair, her eyes were staring at us and there was a frown on her face. She was dead”.

“Another child lay on the roadway like a discarded doll, her white dress stained with mud and dust. She could have been no more than three years old. The back of her head had been blown away by a bullet fired into her brain. One of the women also held a tiny baby to her body. The bullet that had passed into her breast had killed the baby too. Someone had slit open the woman's stomach, cutting sideways and then upwards, perhaps trying to kill her unborn child. Her eyes were wide open, her dark face frozen in horror”.

According to Israeli journalist, Amnon Kapeliouk, in his investigative article, Sabra and Shatila: an inquiry into a massacre, in the days after the massacre, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Lebanese officials had counted and buried at 762 bodies in state graves and that 1200 other bodies were claimed by their families and buried in private graves. However, Kapeliouk noted that “there are three other categories of victims which must be added to the 2000 bodies recovered, buried and cremated after the massacre”.

These included (1) those who had been buried by the Phalangists in mass graves, which the Lebanese authorities prevented anyone from unearthing; (2) others who were buried in the ruins of 200 destroyed houses and whose bodies were unable to be recovered “because of the advance decomposition of the corpses” and; (3) up to 2000 other camp inhabitants had been taken alive to an unknown destination, many never to return (many of their bodies were later found on roadsides leading to the south of Lebanon). According to Kapeliouk, “if all these categories were added together, the number of victims reaches approximately 3000 people. Between 3,000-3,500 men, women and children were massacred within 48 hours between September 16 and 18, 1982”.

The massacre shocked the world. Israel’s Prime Minister Menachim Begin was forced to resign. In December 1982, the UN declared the massacre to be an act of genocide (despite the fact that all Western democracies abstained on the vote). An Israeli judicial commission found that the Israeli military had abandon its duty of care and that Ariel Sharon was “personally responsible” for the massacre. However, neither Sharon or any member of the Israeli military or the Christian Phalange were every punished for the war crimes they facilitated and carried out. In 2001, the Butcher of Sabra and Shatila, Ariel Sharon became the Prime Minister of Israel.

In Pity the Nation, Robert Fisk asked in relation to Sabra and Shatila, “When does a killing become an outrage? When does an atrocity become a massacre? Or, put another way, how many killings make a massacre? Thirty? A hundred? Three hundred? When is a massacre not a massacre? When the figures are too low? Or when the massacre is carried out by Israel’s friends rather than Israel's enemies?

In response to his own rhetorical questions, Fisk wrote that he suspected that the only reason that there was “debate” around whether or not Sabra and Shatila was a “massacre” was because “in Beirut, the victims were Palestinians”. Fisk noted that, however, “If Syrian troops had crossed into Israel, surrounded a Kibbutz and allowed their Palestinian allies to slaughter the Jewish inhabitants, no Western news agency would waste its time afterwards arguing about whether or not it should be called a massacre”.

Twenty-five years after Sabra and Shatila, Fisk’s observation continues to ring true. The Palestinian people, in the eyes of the western media and many so-called “western democracies”, continue to remain what British historian Mark Curtis calls a “un-people”. According to Curtis, “un-people” are those whose lives are deemed worthless and/or expendable. They are “the modern day equivalent of the ‘savages’ of colonial days, who could be mown down by British guns in virtual secrecy, or else in circumstances where the perpetrators were hailed as the upholders of civilisation”.

The concept of Un-people is central, notes Australian journalist and filmmaker, John Pilger, to the way the Palestinians (and Arabs and Muslim) are viewed by the Western world and how their plight and the war crimes against them are ignored by a silent media and international community.

As an occupied people, the Palestinian people should be protected by 149 articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention - a convention that Israel is a signatory too. However, since 1967, Israel has repeatedly violated every single one of these articles by indiscriminately shelling Palestinian civilian residential areas (using warplanes, tanks and machine guns), by using Palestinian civilians as human shields during military operations, by transferring sections of the Israeli civilian population into the occupied territories (ie. illegal settlers), by forcibly deporting and transferring sections of the Palestinian population - both in and out of the Palestinian occupied territories, by building illegal settlements, by carrying out arbitrary arrests and detention, by jailing Palestinians without trail, by refusing to allow Palestinian civilians to access medical and educational facilities, by carrying out extra-judicial executions, by restricting the freedom of movement of Palestinians via checkpoints, road blocks, curfews and closures.

In 2006 alone, Israel was accused repeatedly by international and Israeli human rights monitoring groups of violating the Fourth Geneva Convention and committing war crimes. In June 2006, Israel began– once again – bombarding the Gaza Strip as part of Operation Summer Rain. According to Amnesty International, deliberate attacks by Israeli forces against civilian property and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip violated international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes. On June 9, Israel’s bombing of civilian areas resulted in 7 members of the Ghalia family, including 5 children and their parents, being killed as they picnicked on the beach in Gaza. Over the next three months, Israel would continue to bombard the Gaza, killing more than 200 Palestinian civilians - a quarter of them children.

In November, after a brief lull, Israel began bombing the Gaza again as part of their Autumn Clouds military operation. In the first 48 hours, Israeli’s occupation forces killed 70 Palestinian civilians. On November 8, Israel shelled the Palestinian city of Beit Hanoun, killing 18 civilians, including 7 children - all from the Athamna family. Fifty other civilians were wounded. B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories accused Israel of carrying out a war crime. By the end of November, as part of Autumn Clouds, Israel had killed more than 200 Palestinians; half of those killed were women and children.

In August 2007, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) noted that since the beginning of the Al Aqsa intifada in September 2000, more than 3354 unarmed Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank and Gaza. According to the PCHR, of those killed, 23% or 788 were children. During the same period, PCHR noting that 24,350 Palestinian civilians were wounded by the IOF.

There has been little outcry or outrage, however, by the world media who salivate at every facet of Paris Hilton or Britney Spear’s inane lives. There was little outcry or condemnation from the leaders of the so-called “free world”, as the Israeli Zionist state systematically violated (and continues to violate) the Fourth Geneva Convention and uses state terrorism to kill thousands of unarmed civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Why? Because in Gaza, as in Beirut, the victims were Palestinian – a “un-people” whose lives are expendable and not as worthy as other human beings. From Sabra and Shatila to Gaza and the West Bank today, the Israeli state and its occupation forces have continued to violate the political, civil, economic, social, cultural and human rights of the Palestinian people with impunity. They have been encouraged in this by the leaders of the “free world” who have looked on in silence, turning a blind eye to the war crimes being carried out by the Israeli state.

Despite the odds, the repression and Israel’s state terror, however, the Palestinian people refuse to be a “un-people” or to give up their struggle. Why? Because in the words of the late Palestinian academic, Edward Said, “it is a just cause, a noble ideal, a moral quest for equality and human rights”

On the anniversary of Sabra and Shatila, we remember the dead. But we also remember the living and stand in solidarity with their struggle for justice and equality and to end the brutal Israeli occupation.


Sabra and Shatila: inquiry into a massacre by Amnon Kapeliouk can be read at: www.geocities.com/indictsharon/Kapeliouk.doc

16 comments:

Yishai Kohen said...

Sabra and Shatilla= Arabs murdering Arabs. Do you remember what the Philistines did to the Christians in Damour? To refresh the memory:

The Massacre and Destruction of Damour

In January of 1976, the destruction of Damour, a town of some 25,000 was completed by the PLO within two weeks. "The priest of Damour, Father Mansour Labaky desperately trying to save people of the town telephoned Kamal Jumblat[one of the Lebanese leaders], in whose parliamentary constituency Damour lay. 'Father, Jumblat said, 'I can do nothing for you, because it depends on Yasser Arafat' ". All efforts were useless. In the morning following the first night of invasion, when more than fifty people were massacred, Father Labaky "despite the shelling managed to get to the one house, to bring out some corpses An entire family had been killed, the Canan family, four children all dead, and the mother, the father, and the grandfather. The mother was still hugging one of the children. And she was pregnant. The eyes of the children were gone and their limbs were cut off. No legs and no arms".

In total, 582 people were massacred in the storming of Damour. Father Labaky went with the Red Cross to bury them. "Many of the bodies had been dismembered, so they had to count the heads to number the dead. Three of the men they found had had their genitals cut off and stuffed in their mouths".
======

That kind of thing might make the Christian Arabs angry, you know.

Yishai Kohen said...

Lebanese officer, Robert Hatem's eyewitness account of Sabra and Shatila, as described on a Lebanese web site:

"General Ariel Sharon had given strict orders to Hobeika to guard against any desperate move, should his men run amok. Their mission was to exert pressure on the Palestinians to drive them all out of the camp, and pick out the PLO agents left behind after the evacuation of the Palestinians in August, 1982. They were rallied at the Cite Sportive and held prisoners. AFTER INSPECTION, THE CIVILIANS WOULD BE SENT BACK TO THEIR HOMES," HE WRITES. HOWEVER, CONTINUES HATEM, HOBEIKA GAVE HIS OWN INSTRUCTIONS TO HIS MEN: "TOTAL EXTERMINATION ... CAMPS WIPED OUT."

At 7:30 p.m. on September 16, 1982, Hobeika and I arrived at General Ariel Sharon’s Headquarters. We climbed up to the terrace of the tall building next to the Kuweity Embassy. From there we could plunge right into the camp and have an overhead view. Besides the Israeli officers, Assaad Shaftari, Michel Zouein, Elie Hobeika «H.K.» and myself were poised and ready.

The Israeli officers were jealous and filled with rage, blaming Hobeika for actually ordering the massacre of Palestinian civilians. Hobeika coldly retorted that it was because of the darkness he could not tell who they were.

General Sharon, being too fat to climb up the flight of stairs, waited on the second floor to see Hobeika and have it out with him personally. The minute he saw him he roared out: "You were not supposed to do this. I didn’t ask you to commit massacres. If I wanted, I would have done so with my tanks. You’ll pay dearly for this blunder!"

... I was Hobeika’s field man always present on the premises with my chief wherever he went. I can state under oath, that General Sharon would never have lit up the area the way he did had he planned for any butchery. He would not have cleaned up the Cite Sportive to house all the Palestinians pending their return to their homes after verification. He would not have placed his tanks and armored cars all around the camps to capture the remaining armed Palestinian agents.

Yishai Kohen said...

As to Gaza, well, besides the fact that the Philistines gave up ALL sovereign claims a LONG time ago:

"THE PALESTINIAN NATIONAL CHARTER" (Al-Mithaq Al-Kawmee Al-Philisteeni), Adopted in 1964 by the 1st Palestinian Conference

Article 24: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area.

===

And besides the fact that the Arab ethnic cleansing of ALL Jews from Gazain 1929 doesn't make it theirs.

THE war crime is them using their own civilians as human shields. THE war crime is them trying to murder Israelis in that way.

Of course, ALL resulting deaths are legally AND morally on their own heads.

So if they REALLY want no more dead, then they'll stop trying to murder.

It's that simple.

Kim said...

Thanks YK for proving both my and Robert Fisk's point. As I said once before, nothing expose the racist, putrid nature of Zionism more than Zionists themselves.

This sort of denial by Zionists, who try to expediate the crimes carried out by the "most moral army in the world" is to be expected.

Obstificate all you like, but the facts are on the side of the victims. The testimony of Phalangists who took part in the massacre provide even more damning evidence of the role played by the IOF in facilitating the massacre.

In 1983, the German magazine, Der Speigel ran an interview with one of the Phalanigist murders:

"At about 10 p.m., we climbed into an American army truck that the Israelis had put at our disposal. We parked the vehicle near the airport rond point. There, right next to the Israeli posts, several such trucks were already parked. These trucks were later used to transport the Palestinian prisoners.

Some Israelis in kataeb uniforms were with the party (with us). Our officers had told us that "the Israeli friends who will accompany you are also volunteers, they haven’t said anything to their army about their involvement with us…they will make your work easier."

Later in the midst of the massacre, the Phlangist recounts:

"I saw once again the Israeli advisors who had been at our secret meeting. One of them had a walkie-talkie; he signaled us to move back to areas of the camp entrance. Few minutes later, the Israelis started shelling the camp. We moved forward again (into the camp). The Israelis helped us with flares so that we can distinguish between the enemy and the friend".

As the massacre drew to a close, he recounts how:

"Now came the first Israeli army bulldozers. One of the Kataeb officers ordered: "Plow everything under the ground. Don't leave any witnesses alive. Things must be done very quickly."

He could stay whatever he wanted. Didn’t he see the magnitude of the task?

Despite our efforts the camp was still crowded with people. We could hear shooting from all directions. The people there were fending for themselves. They ran about and caused awful confusion. The Order to "plow them under" demanded too much".

Yishai Kohen said...

The facts are the facts, and this is why Sharon was never convicted in any court anywhere of murder.

When a Lebanese officer says that Sharon wasn't guilty then there's not much more you can do; especially when there's no debate about who did the murders (not the IDF).

Fisk wasn't there when it happened. He's just a polemicist with a chip on his shoulder.

Oh well. The truth is the truth.

If the Philistines don't like getting massacred then they should consider not committing massacres of their own.

Yishai Kohen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

Testimony from Israeli soliders at Sabra and Shatila:


Israel, they coordinated the details of the Phalangist entry into the camps ... Major General Drori called Ariel Sharon to announce: "Our friends are marching on the camps. We have coordinated their entry." "Congratulations!" replied Ariel Sharon, "The operation of our friends is approved."


Bamahaneh, the official weekly voice of the Israeli Army, wrote on September 1, 1982 (two weeks prior to the massacre) that "A high-ranking Israeli officer heard the following words uttered by a Phalangist officer: 'The question we ask ourselves is: what should we start with? Rape or murder? ...

On many occasions, Israeli officers in constant contact with the Christian forces heard such remarks as: "We'll cut their throats," or "blood will be knee-deep."


The Israeli command was located in a high rise building located 200 meters from one of the massacre sites in Shatila. Israelis were able to observe the operations from the roof (seventh floor) of the three Lebanese buildings they had occupied since September 3. They were equipped with telescopes and binoculars with night-vision. In reality, they did not need this equipment because they were only 200 meters away from the major location of the carnage. During these two days, the building swarmed with officers. There was an endless flow of traffic in and out; vehicles of the signal corps, armored vehicles and different units all around.

To quote one Israeli officer, watching from the roof of these buildings was like watching "from the front row of a theater."

The Israeli soldiers stationed around the camp quickly began to realize what was taking place.

Ha'aretz correspondent Michael Gerti and photographer Uzi Keren, who arrived at Shatila the day after the massacre, filed the following account by two Israeli paratroopers: "It was possible to stop the massacre in Shatila, even on Thursday; had they acted on what we reported to our commander." One of the soldiers voluntarily admitted to the journalists: "On Thursday evening, as darkness fell, Palestinian women from Shatila arrived at the post and hysterically told us that the Phalangists were shooting their children and putting the men in trucks. I reported this to my commander, but all he said was: 'It is okay, do not worry.' My order was to tell the women to go back home. However, many women, and entire families as well, ran away from the camps to the north. I went back and repeated my report over and over. Each time, however, the answer was the same: "It is okay." An Israeli officer belonging to the same select unit reported to Gerti and Keren that he had received several reports of this type".(Ha'aretz, September 23, 1982).

Other testimonies by Israeli soldiers confirm that as early as Thursday evening camp residents attempted to explain that a massacre was unfolding in the camps. A Palestinian from Sabra left the camp early that evening and reported to an Arabic-speaking officer named Rami at the first Israeli post to the west: "I told him about meeting a woman wounded in her arm who told me that Sa'ad Haddad's men were killing everyone. The officer asked me if we were armed. I told him that some were armed, but that they only had weapons for personal defense. He told me to announce to the whole population that they must gather these weapons and surrender them before 5 o'clock. As for the massacre, it didn't interest him at all."

A nurse in an Israeli medical unit related that among the injured brought to his medical post was a nine-month-old baby with a bullet wound. A few hours later, the baby died. The nurse confirmed that the person who had brought him in was the sole survivor in his family. Later, a Phalangist saw the baby lying dead and blurted out: "Would you like to get rid of this bundle? I will throw it in the garbage." The nurse realized that a real carnage had taken place, and he alerted his superiors.
During the night, a militiaman approached the nearest Israeli roadblock and asked for a stretcher. It has been established that the Phalangists encountered armed resistance in one location, suffering two fatalities and several injuries. The militiaman answered the Israeli soldier who inquired about developments in the camp by saying: "We have already killed 250 terrorists." In telling this story to reporters, the soldier said that the Israelis laughed, while one of them commented: These [Phalangists] and their exaggerations... How could they have killed 250 terrorists when we have not heard the noise of combat?" Then the soldier said, "When he left, we stopped laughing and began to realize that indeed a massacre was unfolding."

Thursday evening, news of the massacre began arriving at the Israeli headquarters from forward command posts near the Shatila camp. They reported casualties in the camps, including "terrorists and civilians." At 11:00 P.M., the commander of the Phalangist troops in the Shatila camp filed report to the Israeli command east of Beirut stating:

"Thus far we have liquidated 300 civilians and terrorists." This report was immediately communicated to headquarters in Tel Aviv where it was conveyed to more than twenty high-ranking officers.

Kim said...

It should be noted that in addition to Palestinians being killed, the Phalangists also killed Lebanese muslims and christians as well as 9 Jewish women.

Kim said...

Finally, it obvious that YK has no interest in actually reading any actual real accounts by those who investigated what really happened (either the Kahan report, which did find Sharon "personally responsible" for the massacre) or the investigative articles by a range of Israeli journalists who confirm that the Israeli military were actively involved in coordinating the massacre and deliberately did nothing to stop it.

Instead YK would prefer to regale us with their ignornace and racism. AS I said before, nothing exposes zionism more, so I guess, I will leave it there and allow YK to expose Zionism for what it really is.

Yishai Kohen said...

That isn't testimony, kim. It's a lie- another Arab lie. WE'RE USED TO THEM, KIM. You live them.

Just like the later "massacre" in Jenin where the Arabs claimed that 500+ Arabs were "massacred" by the IDF and the IDF even carted off bodies.

And just like the earlier lie of the "massacre" in Deir Yassin:

Deir Yassin: History of a Lie

EVEN THE ARABS THERE ADMITTED IT WAS A LIE IN THE ARAB PRESS:

In retrospect, Palestinians of today admit that one of the most terrible mistakes they made back in 1948 was to over-report the details of the Deir Yassin massacre. "The goal was to mobilize Arab support for the Palestinians who were slaughtered by the Zionists but what really happened was that more and more Palestinians became scared and left their country," said Hazem Nusseibeh, a leading Palestinian figure who currently lives in Jordan. In 1948 he was among the key figures of the city of Jerusalem.

..."True, there was exchange of fire with the Jews. Prior to the attack, they used to come to the village and distribute leaflets calling for the establishment of friendly and brotherly relations with us offering a formula of 'do not hit us, we won't hit you.' Our youths confronted them and did not listen to them. Our youths used to go out to the eastern side of the village and beat up whatever Jew they saw."

...Mohammed Asaad Radwan Al Yassini, 70, who currently lives in the Old City of Jerusalem, confirmed that some of the men were dressed in women's outfits.

...Did they use speakers and what did they say?

"They called on us to surrender, to throw our weapons and to save ourselves. But we did not imagine them breaking into the village.

...Ali Yousef Jaber, Abu Yousef, is also 70 years old. He lives in Am'ari refugee camp near Ramallah. Excerpts below:

"I would like to stress on the fact that no rape incidents took place. That was part of a big lie that some of the Arabs and some of our leaders invented but were refuted by our villagers. I was among a group of people who went to Saad Eddin Al Aref to talk to him about this. He told us he wanted to frame them and attribute to them a brutal crime. I said to him: if you want to frame them, do not use Deir Yassin, or our women. Do not attribute to us something that never happened, otherwise this is infamy that our village and its people do not deserve...

Randy Shiner said...

Robert Fisk is a bona fide Jew hater. he admits that his writings are nothing but polemics; his books are polemics - I own them, just to see for myself. If there is a chance to blame the Jews/Israelis for something, he doesn't miss a chance. It's time that the Palestinians (not a real word, by the way -- they borrowed it for their own purposes from the Philistines of long ago) take some responsibility for their own future and stop thinking about what WAS and start thinking about what IS. Let us agree that Sabra/Shatila was a calamity, whoever was responsible for it. And that, from what I read on your blog, is a gray area in which there is conflicting memories and accounts. As was said by another commenter here, no court has ever convicted Sharon of anything in relation to that disaster. If the rest of the Arab world cared a damn about "their" people, they (Syrian, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the rest) would have resolved the refugee issue a long time ago. It is to their mutual benefit to keep the refugee issue alive and well to use against Israel as a bargaining chip and they have done so even when, as in 2002, they were given 95% of what they wanted by Ehud Barak. Arafat, who has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity said "no", just as they did in 1948: they refused to acknowledge the existence of Israel, refused to negotiate, nothing. So let people like you keep whining and moaning about the past. Israel is only second behind the US in listings on the NASDAQ. They have a free and open society, unlike the "models" that exist in Fascist Syria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, models of tolerance and respect for others. Can you imagine an organization like B'Tselem existing in any of the Arab countries? Not a chance. Israel has built, out of a little scrap of land, surrounded by haters out to wipe it off the map, is a free, open (too open sometimes for its own good) and vibrant society. They have, despite everything, gotten on with life. Do you think that your Palestinian brethren could take a couple of lessons? Ya think?!

yousef said...

Great article Kim well done!
i am Palestinian living in melbourne and a host of a radio show on 3cr called Palestine remembered. This will be on my next show tomorrow morning,,,,

Yousef
our.dome@gmail.com

Kim said...

Hi Yousef,
thanks for the comment. 3CR is one of my favourite radio stations (truly!). Hope the show goes well.

Kim said...

dear Randy,

"Palestine is not a real word" - oh dear, what a hilariously convincing argument (not)

ah..Randy dear... sorry to have to point out to you... but ... all words are made up (shocking, I know but the truth none te less)

Words just happen to be a collection of letters, which are often derived historically and which become culturally accepted.

I know I shouldnt, but I just have to ask, where did you think words came from?

No regarding Sabra and Shatila, there is no gray areas. Israeli soldiers, Phalangist militia and Palestinians have all testified that that massacre was carried out by the Phalangists under the direction of the Israelis. Even the Israeli courts found this. So no gray area whatsoever.

Why is it only up to "Arabs" to care about the Palestinians. This reveals your racism - Palestinians are humans like the rest of us and it the responsibility of every human being to care about all human beings.

You also manage to show your ignorance and racism once again when you say could you image a group like Btselem existing Arab countries. There are many human rights organisations, similar to Btselem which DO EXIST in Arab countries. I suggest you put your racism aside and take the time to do some research, the internet is a wonderful thing you know. There is no excuse for ignorance such as yours.

Yes, Israel is free and open and democracy - IF YOU ARE A JEW - however, if you are not, its not so free, not so open and not so democratic. I suggest you look up the Adalah website, as well as whole range of other Israeli and international websites, which spell out the blatant discrimination and oppression of Israeli Palestinians (the so called Israeli Arabs). There are at least 20 laws which actively discriminate against Israeli Palestinians, as Adalah notes.

Barak never offered the Palestinians 95% of what they wanted. This is an outright myth. In an article which Barak wrote for Israel's Yedioth Aronoth (their leading Hebrew Paper), he stated categorically "I did not offer them anything". What Barak did "offer" (if you can call it that) was that Israel would "consider" doing such and such and such, if Arafat agreed to give up the right of return and Jerusalem. In otherwords, he offered nothing concrete - only he would consider. So by his own admission, Barak acknowledges Israel OFFERED NOTHING to the Palestinians.

RE Fisk: So what if Fisks books are polemics. Nothing wrong with that - polemics are a legitimate form of arugmentation

But lets talk about double standards shall we:

Why is that pro-zionists like yourself are happy to support polemics (and often badly written ones and one which are often debunked resoundingly) of people like Dershowitz but then critize people like Fisk.

And finally, why is it not okay for Palestinians (or their supporters) to remember the past, but it is okay for Jews.

Once again your racism shines out. If you want Palestinians to stop "whining" about the past but its okay for Jews to say "never forget" when it comes to the holocaust. So why is it okay for Jews to remember (rightly) the genocide against them, but Palestinians are not allowed to remember the genocide against them

Seems to me you have a racist double standard, dont ya think?

Yishai Kohen said...

No gray area at all. A Lebanese army officer has stated clearly that neither Sharon nor anybody in the IDF was involved (see my 2nd post here, above).

In fact, this is why the Kahan Commission found Sharon guilty of NOT AMNTICIPATING that the Phalangists would go on a rampage. From the Kahan Commission of Inquiry:

…the Phalangists were moved into the camps without the I.D.F.'s being with them in that operation and without the I.D.F. being able to maintain effective and ongoing supervision of their actions there…

…we heard testimony from two doctors and a nurse who worked in the Gaza hospital, which was run by and for Palestinians. There is no cause to suspect that any of these witnesses have any special sympathy of Israel, and it is clear to us - both from their choosing that place of employment and from our impression of their appearance before us - that they sympathize with the Palestinians and desired to render service to Palestinians in need. From these witnesses' testimony as well it is clear that the armed military unit that took them out of the hospital on Saturday morning and brought them to the building that formerly belonged to the U.N. was a Phalangist unit…

…No other military force aside from the Phalangists was seen by any one of the witnesses in the area of the camps where the massacre was carried out, or at the time of the entrance into or exit from this area…

…To sum up this chapter, we assert that the atrocities in the refugee camps were perpetrated by members of the Phalangists, and that absolutely no direct responsibility devolves upon Israel or upon those who acted in its behalf…


What was Sharon responsible for?:

"…In our view, the Minister of Defense made a grave mistake when he ignored the danger of acts of revenge and bloodshed by the Phalangists (after the assassination of Bashir Gemayel ..[my remark]) against the population in the refugee camps…"

In fact, in its 21 February 1983, issue, Time published a story implying Sharon was directly responsible for the massacres. Sharon sued Time for libel in American and Israeli courts. The jury concluded that the Time story included false allegations and this was not the case.

In fact, the only reason why Sharon lost was because the law requires "actual malice" in order to win a libel suit, and they felt that it was just shoddy journalism.

But actual guilt? Nope.

Nikol said...

What do you think of Obadiah Shoher's extensive reply to Ed Said at http://samsonblinded.org/titles/edward_said_end_peace_process.htm ?