Do we Dare to Promise Palestinians "Never Again"?


As I began the process of writing this article in which it warned of an Israeli massacre somewhere in the West Bank, (a massacre that would draw a parallel with past Israeli atrocities and remind us of past war crimes of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon) the Israel army carried out a massacre in a small Palestinian village, Beit Rima.

On October 24, Beit Rima was one of many horrifying episodes carved into the human memory, narrating the savagery of the Israeli army, the brutality of the occupation, and the heartlessness of Sharon.

The small Palestinian village near Ramallah experienced a night of untold misery, 10 of its residents were killed, dozens wounded and beaten, house to house arrests were staged and many of its buildings were totaled.

Journalists and medical aid workers who stood helplessly at its entrance blocked by the occupation soldiers managed to record a disturbing moment of Israeli troops leaving the village with victory signal, proud smiles and Israeli flags.

They've won the war.

Back in Beit Rima for a full day, seven men were laying in the street dead, as a tight curfew prevented the villagers from reaching the dead bodies.  

Some would innocently presume that following a massacre of Palestinians, the world would vow that "never again" would such an atrocity take place.

But each massacre is followed by another, and another, yet with no promises made so the dead may rest in peace, and those living may retain a sense of security in their battered lives.

One of the most remembered massacres committed against the Palestinian people was the September 16, 1982 massacre of Sabra and Shatilla, in which nearly 4,000 women, men and children were butchered by Phalanges groups working under Israeli command.

Despite all Israeli attempts to pacify the nature and magnitude of the mass murder, the savagery of those days could hardly be mollified.

Journalists like British reporter Robert Fisk eloquently narrated that horror, for he was one of the first to enter the two refugee camps in West Beirut, even before the killers finished the task entrusted to them by Israel.

"There were women laying 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. Their 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 along side discarded US army ration tins, Israeli army equipment and empty bottles of whisky."

Unlike what you might think, this article is not to commemorate Sabra and Shatilla, for the sad anniversary has already passed us, and it's still too early for the coming anniversary to overshadow the survivors of the massacre with its endless sorrow and untold grief.

However, it is an appropriate reminder of Israel's savagery and a warning that all the components needed for a new disaster are present and ready to manufacture yet another massacre.

Prior to the war of 1982, Israel's assault and aerial bombardment of Lebanon was routine. Routine killings of innocent people, routine assassinations, routine violations of Lebanon's sovereignty, routine Lebanese calling on the international community to halt Israel's aggression, and routine US backing of Israel in conjunction with aggravating Western apathy.

But when a Palestinian group tried to assassinate Israel's ambassador to Great Britain at the time, Shlomo Argov, all hell broke loose.

The history of conflict begins where Israel finds it suitable. The incomprehensive killing of innocent Palestinians and Lebanese was then irrelevant, and the day of doom was signaled when an Israeli official was wounded by presumably Palestinian gunmen.

Israel had then moved to Lebanon, a massive invasion, with a huge arsenal that was mostly funded by the United States, political cover also provided by the United States combined with Israeli arrogance and disregard for human life.

The results were horrendous, nearly 30,000 were killed, Lebanon's infrastructure was leveled, and the PLO and Syrian fighters were driven out of Lebanon, leaving the camps unprotected, and easy prey for Israel and its allies to commit massacres against a refugee population consisting mainly of elders, women and children.

The similarities between the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the invasion of the Palestinian territories under Palestinian control in the West Bank of the present are two costly to be overlooked.

The attempted assassination of Argov, resulting from years of Israeli savagery is similar to the assassination of Rehavam Zeevi, the Israeli Minister of Tourism which in turn was an outcome of a year of Israeli killings and assassinations during the Palestinian uprising.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was then Minister of Defense, and under his command, untold carnage was carried out. He is now a Prime Minister, with more power, hate and with a keen interest in suppressing the Palestinian people's will.

The Arab world was then and continues to be fragmented, unsure and undecided. The United Nations was and remains weak and crippled before Israel's influence and the American veto. The western world was and remains apathetic to the plight of Palestinians. The western media was and is still discriminatory in its coverage, the same shameful bias with different reporters.

So what have we done to compel war criminals like Sharon not to carry out new massacres? Like the most recent one of Beit Rima?

The death toll is rising and Palestinians live in constant fear of Sharon's coming massacre. Yet the world is watching, with a bit of concern, an abundance of composure, and plenty of patience.

Almost every country in the world has vowed to help the United States in its quest to "uproot terrorism" and to prevent the attack on the US from ever happening again. The whole world has vowed time and again that "never again" will a  Holocaust be carried out against any people on this earth.

But why is no one vowing anything when Palestinian lives are at risk? Why this infuriating silence, and only gentle pressure on Sharon, urging him to "show constraint"?

Allowing Sharon to carry out such policies against Palestinians, fully knowing the devastating outcome of these policies is similar to allowing Hitler to rampage Europe all over again, or permitting hijackers to crash into a tall building in some major city.

Sharon is intensifying his war against the Palestinian people, yet no one has yet stood before the raging "Bulldozer", except a few Palestinian fighters baring their chests to the world's fourth strongest army.

That virtual silence before these Israeli crimes is likely to be soon replaced by angry questions "why do Palestinians blow themselves up?"

______________________________________________

Ramzy Baroud is editor of the Palestine Chronicle, an independent internet magazine dedicated to issues regarding the Palestinian people.

 


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