The BBC just aired a documentary about Sabra and Shatila that should have been made two decades ago. Not surprisingly, the conclusion is that Ariel Sharon should be indicted for war crimes. In London, the Israeli press attache, David Schneeweiss, protested. "We've been in touch with the BBC at all levels to find out what the programme's about. One has to question why they are focusing on old news. These events happened 20 years ago." (Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, Friday June 15, 2001).
Perhaps due to the magnitude of the slaughter, this BBC Panorama documentary focused on Sabra and Shatila. But the details of the war crime at Qibya make an even stronger case for indicting Ariel Sharon.
Predictably, The BBC has come under a full frontal assault by pro-Israeli apologists for a Panorama program, The Accused, that aired on Sunday, June 17, 2001. There is good reason for panic among Israeli officials and their international public relations support team, which includes blunt instruments like the New York Times and CNN. This could be the start of the final chapter in the long struggle to bring Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to justice for his war crimes in Sabra and Shatila and Qibya. It comes at a time when a Belgian court is diligently probing into Sharon's criminal past. Europe has had enough of this monster act. It will not be long before Americans get wind of how deranged this man really is.
It is worth noting, for the benefit of Israeli press attaches, that the Associated Press was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (2000) for a series of reports that uncovered details of mass killing by U.S. soldiers of hundreds of Korean civilians at No Gun Ri in July 1950. In accepting the prize, the AP reporters offered praised to "the Korean survivors who would not let their quest for truth die". Just a few months ago the New York Times made a big splash by revealing that in 1969 Ex-Senator Bob Kerrey was involved in atrocities against civilians in the Village of Thanh Phong. Kerrey, In a CBS interview was candid enough to say that "to describe it as an atrocity, I would say, is pretty close to being right, because that's how it felt, and that's why I feel guilt and shame for it".
To this day, the Israelis and their mass media pals waste no effort to sanitize Sharon's bloody resume. Details of the war crimes committed by this serial mass murderer are buried in the 'old news' archives. Well, Kerrey's news was a decade older than Sabra and Shatila and the slaughter of Koreans at No Gun Ri took place half a century ago, three years prior to Qibya. As any high school kid can tell any Israeli press attach, Nazi war criminals, many in their nineties, are still liable for crimes committed during World War II. When it comes to war crimes there are no statutes of limitations and there are no exemptions for Israeli nationals, even Prime Ministers.
Perhaps due to the magnitude of the slaughter, this BBC Panorama documentary focused on Sabra and Shatila. But the details of the war crime at Qibya make an even stronger case for indicting Ariel Sharon. At Qibya, Sharon was on site supervising the Israeli soldiers who did the killing.
To quote from an earlier article: "The slaughter at Qibya, a West Bank village outside Jerusalem, took place on October 14, 1953. A contingent of 600 Israeli troops, led by Ariel Sharon, using explosives, blew up a whole village, killing every single Palestinian inhabitant. Every man, every woman and every child was murdered in cold blood. There were other similar incidents involving Sharon's notorious "Unit 101" throughout the 1950s... The thing about the slaughter at Qibya, is Sharon has no alibis. Israeli Forces under his command, in his presence and with his explicit orders carried out the massacre. He slaughtered those innocent villagers with malicious intent as part of Israel's long-standing policy to sanction massive acts of vengeance against unarmed 'enemy' civilians. His work at Qibya was deliberately and callously calibrated to insure the highest possible number of casualties."
While the details of the atrocities at No Gun Ri and Thanh Phong were known to only a select few and had to be 'dug' up by investigative journalists, any New York Times or Washington Post journalist can find out about Sharon by tuning in to see the BBC. However, the ethnics at Sulzberger's daily ruse are not about to rehash the past of their favorite war criminal. A search of their vaunted archives, going all the way back to 1996, turns up one reference to Qibya. Not surprisingly it was a white wash by William A. Orme Jr (Warrior Who Confounds - Ariel Sharon, NYT. 2/7/2001). In a previous article, 'The Stain On the Press', we exposed Orme's public relations work for his Qibya client. The boys on 43rd street are used to getting away with this kind of nonsense. Covering up Israeli war crimes is just another day's work for the gray lady, which is currently celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of going to court to publish the Pentagon papers. Bob Kerrey must be eating his heart out and wishing he was Yiddish too.
Sharon's past is catching up with hi,m. It will be interesting to see how long the mass media in America can continue to ignore the BBC and Belgian tribunals. As usual the only defense available to the Israel Firsters is that the BBC is anti-Semitic. To their credit, the BBC has not backed out of airing the program. Ted Turner's 'Global Minute', a new CNN feature that should be called '60 Seconds', will no doubt have time constraints that prevent including 'old news' of Sharon's crimes. Expect The New York Times to stick to a tradition of exposing ex-Senators while continuing to worship at the altar of sacred Israeli mass murderers.
Sharon needs to be brought to justice and soon. We should all applaud the efforts of the BBC and the Belgian courts for doing their part to expose the bloody record of this Israeli Prime Minister. Aside from Qibya and Sabra and Shatila, he should also be tried for the indiscriminate bombardment of Beirut in 1982, resulting in tens of thousands of innocent civilian casualties, his campaign against Gaza in 1971, the murder of Egyptian POWs in 1956 and the use of collective punishment against the Palestinians in the occupied territories. His most recent war crime, the attack by an F-16 against a prison in occupied Nablus that resulted in eleven fatalities, is just one additional entry in a rap sheet that is a mile long,
Sharon's indictment would serve a number of purposes. It would deliver justice to his victims and prevent him from committing additional crimes. Getting Sharon's record out in the open might even persuade the Israelis to re-examine their compulsive habit of voting for war criminals. For Americans, it will expose the incredible deception the mass media machine is capable of in the name of Israel. As an additional benefit, the Congressmen who have heaped praise on Sharon will be seen for what they are; a breed of men who would dine with a mass murderer, so long as he reaches for the check after the meal.
Sharon's apologists should be exposed along with Sharon. The American journalists and politicians who openly embrace him should have to answer the question: "what did you know about Qibya and when did you know it?" It is not enough to worry about Sharon, it is time to seriously worry about the mass media machine that markets war criminals as 'Grandpa Sharon' just waiting to rock Colin Powell on his knees. One needs to worry about an American Jewish community that coddles war criminals, even as they demand compensation for German war crimes. That Israelis elected Sharon because of his 'talents', should also raise serious concerns about the racist and belligerent attitudes of an Israel that has drifted from the right to the extreme right. Those journalists, like Deborah Sontag,, Thomas Friedman and William Safire, who have collaborated in the project to sanitize Sharon, should be held in contempt. Their collaboration was no simple passiv,e act; given that they were well aware of Sharon's past. Delaying justice for those who suffered at Sharon's hands at Qibya has allowed other innocents to fall into his murderous clutches. Sharon is a repeat offender because of repeat cover-ups by a complicit group of American 'journalists' who seem to relish the prospect of more Palestinian victims. Justice demands that they explain their motives for collaborating with this monster.
Ahmed Amr is editor of nilemedia.com.