30 Years After Sabra and Shatila the Genocide Continues with Impunity.
30 years ago the almost 72 hours long massacre on Palestinian refugees in the almost entirely undefended Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila in Beirut were committed under the watchful eyes of military of the occupying power Israel. Actually the murder began already during the night of the 15th of September, when the camp was slowly and systematically being surrounded by Israeli troops and troops of the Christian Falangist militia. Reports of arrests and murders around the entrances to the camp, near the hospital and in brushes circulated.
Purportedly the operation was a “security operation”. Cleaning to be initiated to seek out some 2.000 to 3.000 “armed terrorists” which according to Israel´s Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had remained in Sabra and Shatila when the PLO, under international agreements that security would be provided for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, withdrew 15.000 troops from Lebanon.
The details of the massacre have been documented and reported in countless reports, articles, documentaries, and it is not my intention to repeat them here. For those, most likely predominantly younger readers and others who are not aware of the details, I have added links to more detailed information below, and I whole heartedly encourage eveyone to read, to watch, to inform yourselves about, and most importantly, never to forget and never to stop learning and drawing the right conclusions from Sabra and Shatila.
Today I would rather focus on failures. To a certain degree I consider these failures a personal failure too.
The failure to stop the systematic manufacturing of prejudice, the vilifying and dehumanizing of an entire people.
The cold-blooded murder of between 2.000 and 3.000 human beings in Sabra and Shatila, the rapes, pillage, the brutal butchering of women, children and the elderly would never have been possible without first robbing the victims their humanity. The Arab American scholar Jack Shaheen analyzed more than 1.000 Hollywood movies from the oldest black and white productions to the latest blockbuster movies up to 2001. Shaheen concluded in his book “Real Bad Arabs”, that more than 25 per cent of all Hollywood productions in one way or the other vilified, denigrated, rediculed, dehumanized Arabs. In fact Shaheen compares Hollywood productions with Nazi propaganda movies against the Jewish people.
Hollywoods stereotyping and dehumanizing of Arabs is by no means “merely” a cultural artifact. It is part of a systematic US-Imperialist and Zionist propaganda campaign that glorifies Zionism and US-Imperialism and their outrages against targeted people. Many of the movies in which Arabs and Muslims are murdered with utter disregard for the sanctity of human lives are supported by the US Department of Defense.
This is why a shoe string budget movie can enrage the masses which are protesting in Arab and predominatly Islamic nations these days more than even the massacre in Sabra and Shatila.
Without the systematic dehumanization of the victim, massacres would rarely occur, if at all. For more information, please read my article “Palestine Israel, History and Theirstory”. I have provided a link to the article below.
The Failure to Make Privileged Nations Abide to International Law.
Nobody has ever been tried and sentenced for Sabra and Shatila in a fair trial. Former Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had command responsibility and failed to adher to the obligations of an occupying power to prevent war crimes. The perpetrators of Sabra and Shatila were never sentenced, because war crime tribunals are reserved for privileged nations to perform expedient and politicised show trials. Victors justice is the standard of international justice today. The world urgently needs alternative structures to those of an utterly discredited United Nations and ICC. Appropriate initiatives could include the implementation of international jurisdiction for the most serious crimes. Bilateral and multilateral agreements that guaranty solidarity among nations when a citizen of a “privileged” nation is tried and repression to be expected. Failing to implement such change will result in countless Sabra and Shatila remaining uninvestigated and unpunished.
Failure to Return to a Militarily Credible Palestine.
Let us face it, the massacre in Sabra and Shatila could not and would not have occurred had the PLO not withdrawn 15.000 troops from Lebanon and relied on the protection of the so-called international community for the safety of the Palestinian diaspora in Lebanon.
Ever since the “Oslo Accords” the so-called road-map to peace has led to nothing but increased misery for Palestinians. In return for abandoning its military credibility, everything the PLO has managed to get in return is: more violations of Palestinians water rights, more confiscations of Palestinian land, more house demolitions, more high intensity military operations in which Palestinians are slaughters without having a coherent military structure to defend themselves, the apartheid wall, the siege on Gaza, the devastating splitting of a coherent PLO into fractions that compete for the glory of holding offices which in reality have nothing than the function of administrating the Zionist genocide on Palestinians under Israeli supervision while the world can blame the P.A. for not functioning well enough to recognize the state of Palestine; a self-administrated Zionist genocide on Palestinians rather than focussing on the Liberation of Palestine. This is de facto what the PLO has gained by its entrapment in the glory of the “Oslo Accords”.
Don´t understand me wrong, I am not an advocate of mindless violence, but have you ever seen a nation which has no credible defense survive ? I can find no precedence for any such nation surviving, let alone if it is one which is occupied by a nation that has the declared goal to exterminate the occupied state. Such nations cease to exist. Palestine will cease to exist – at least in any shape or form that can be compared to a sovereign state – unless it regains a military credibility that can back up diplomacy with force if it is needed.
The Failure to Maintain an Arab Dimension to the Occupation of Palestine.
The fate of the people in the occupied Syrian Golan and the ongoing NATO and GCC backed war on Syria can not be seen as isolated from Palestine. Although one can have differences in opinion about Syrian policy throughout the decades the fact remains that Syria is the sole Arab nation which consistently and consequently has supported the Palestinian struggle for liberation. The peole of Syria have paid and are still paying an immense price for this support. In fact as I am writing this article, Syrians are being murdered as a consequence of Syria´s support of the Palestinian cause.
The situation of the Palestinian diaspora in Syria is extremely complicated and so far the policy has been based on an attempt not to interfere into the conflict. My gravest concern however is that a continued policy of non-interference is as likely to result in massacres on Palestinians in Syria as a policy where the PLO would declare its solidarity with Damascus.
One nation after the other who suppotrted Palestine has become the victim of aggression, most prominently Iraq, Libya and currently Syria. These wars can not be seen as isolated from the liberation of Palestine and doing so is a fatal mistake.
As far as I can understand the situation, the only factor that stands between the permanent annexation of major parts of the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestine consisting of a Palestinian Emirate Gaza, and isolated micro enclaves in the West Bank is the solidarity of the people of Syria, Iran, and their governments.
Failure of the Palestinian People and the Palestinian fractions to unite, failure to return to a credible and united PLO, failure to reestablish a militarily credible PLO, and failure to stand in solidarity with those nations who stand in solidarity with Palestine is in my opinion failure to learn the most important lessons from Sabra and Shatila, Jenin, and countless other massacres on Palestinians.
Contains links to other reports and articles.
Contains link to the dodumentary Jenin Jenin.
Discusses the dehumanization of Arabs by Hollywood.
Surviving a Massacre: Eyewitness Report Of The Massacre In The Sabra and Shatila Refugee Camps, Beirut, 1982. Christof Lehmann
A personal account.
Contains links to UN Reports and Documents on Palestine and the Golan.
The War Of Lebanon – Sabra and Shatila. Documentary.