HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Foreign Affairs & National Security » Israel/Palestine (Group) » Robert Fisk: The Forgott...

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 03:54 PM

Robert Fisk: The Forgotten Massacre

By Robert Fisk

Source: The Independent

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"The memories remain, of course. The man who lost his family in an earlier massacre, only to watch the young men of Chatila lined up after the new killings and marched off to death. But – like the muck piled on the garbage tip amid the concrete hovels – the stench of injustice still pervades the camps where 1,700 Palestinians were butchered 30 years ago next week. No-one was tried and sentenced for a slaughter, which even an Israeli writer at the time compared to the killing of Yugoslavs by Nazi sympathisers in the Second World War. Sabra and Chatila are a memorial to criminals who evaded responsibility, who got away with it.

Khaled Abu Noor was in his teens, a would-be militiaman who had left the camp for the mountains before Israel's Phalangist allies entered Sabra and Chatila. Did this give him a guilty conscience, that he was not there to fight the rapists and murderers? "What we all feel today is depression," he said. "We demanded justice, international trials – but there was nothing. Not a single person was held responsible. No-one was put before justice. And so we had to suffer in the 1986 camps war (at the hands of Shia Lebanese) and so the Israelis could slaughter so many Palestinians in the 2008-9 Gaza war. If there had been trials for what happened here 30 years ago, the Gaza killings would not have happened."

He has a point, of course. While presidents and prime ministers have lined up in Manhattan to mourn the dead of the 2001 international crimes against humanity at the World Trade Centre, not a single Western leader has dared to visit the dank and grubby Sabra and Chatila mass graves, shaded by a few scruffy trees and faded photographs of the dead. Nor, let it be said – in 30 years – has a single Arab leader bothered to visit the last resting place of at least 600 of the 1,700 victims. Arab potentates bleed in their hearts for the Palestinians but an airfare to Beirut might be a bit much these days – and which of them would want to offend the Israelis or the Americans?

It is an irony – but an important one, nonetheless – that the only nation to hold a serious official enquiry into the massacre, albeit flawed, was Israel. The Israeli army sent the killers into the camps and then watched – and did nothing – while the atrocity took place. A certain Israeli Lieutenant Avi Grabowsky gave the most telling evidence of this. The Kahan Commission held the then defence minister Ariel Sharon personally responsible, since he sent the ruthless anti-Palestinian Phalangists into the camps to "flush out terrorists" – "terrorists" who turned out to be as non-existent as Iraq's weapons of mass destruction 21 years later."


4 replies, 1650 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply Robert Fisk: The Forgotten Massacre (Original post)
polly7 Sep 2012 OP
King_David Sep 2012 #1
shira Sep 2012 #3
Ken Burch Sep 2012 #4
azurnoir Sep 2012 #2

Response to polly7 (Original post)

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 03:57 PM

1. Forgotten ?


All recent news.


The Sabra and Shatila massacre was the massacre of between 762 and 3,500 Palestinian and Lebanese Shiite civilians, by a Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia, in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon between September 16 and September 18, 1982, during the Lebanese civil war.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to King_David (Reply #1)

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 10:45 PM

3. Must be a slow news day. When there's no dirt on Israel....


...simply "report" about a tragedy that happened 30 years ago by Lebanese Phalangists (who for some reason are rarely if ever blamed for what they did). Where are these cries for "justice" WRT the actual perpetrators?


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to shira (Reply #3)

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 11:32 PM

4. You will admit that it was inexcusably wrong for the IDF to let the Phalangist militias


enter the camps...knowing that, in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of the Philangist president-elect,
Bashir Gemayel, those militias were seeking blood vengeance...right?

Progressive, pro-peace Israelis denounced that decision at the time, and I salute them for it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to polly7 (Original post)

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 04:07 PM

2. Not forgotten by those who were there

A letter to the IDF soldiers at Sabra and Shatila

The first day of year 5743 was marked by the arrival of the Phalangists – you who were there remember that extremist militia – at the front of the hospital. They ordered the international health workers to assemble. They marched us down the main street of the camps: past dead bodies, past a bulldozer marked with a Hebrew letter which was shifting soil to cover over a large area where homes once stood. Many of the militia were using walkie-talkies. At one point, the soldiers lined us up against a bullet- ridden wall and pointed their rifles at us. After several minutes, they put their rifles down and marched us out of the camp.

They led us up a street to an abandoned UN building. In the courtyard we saw parts of IDF uniforms, discarded army rations and recent editions of the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. After interrogating us, they took us across the street to the Israeli Defense Forces forward command post. It was located in a five story building that overlooked the surrounded camps; we saw soldiers looking down on the camps with binoculars. It was there that you and I first met.

A number of you had on kippot (skullcaps) and tallitot (prayer shawls) and were reading from prayer books. It was mid-morning; perhaps you were reciting the Amidah (the Prayer) which consists of many prayers including one for peace, goodness, blessings, kindness and compassion. One of you offered a nurse a piece of carefully wrapped honey cake – maybe your mother had given it to you to take along on your army duty. Traditionally, we begin the New Year by eating something sweet – usually honey cake – to symbolize our hopes for a sweet year. I have never forgotten this gesture. But as I think back, I am pained by the act of celebrating the Jewish New Year as thousands of innocents were buried in mass graves below. One of you said “Today is my Christmas.” I knew what you meant. For us, this day begins ten days of introspection and repentance when the Book of Life is opened and our fate for the next year is sealed.


about the letters author

Ellen Siegel is a Jewish American. She first visited Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon in 1972. Since that time she has been an active member and supporter of the Jewish and Israeli peace movements, and has supported the Palestinian solidarity cause. She volunteered her nursing services in 1982 during Israeli’s war on Lebanon. She worked in Gaza Hospital, Sabra refugee camp in Beirut and was present during the massacre. She testified before the Kahan Commission of Inquiry. She continues to work part-time as a nurse in WDC, and serves on the Medical Committee of the American Near East Refugee Aid.

eta it is indeed nice to see that if you Google Sabra and Shatila and it happens to be the anniversery of that event you can get recent articles

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread