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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/23/16

The 34th Commemoration of the Sabra-Shatila Massacre...

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The Lebanese forces that carried out the bloody massacre in 1982 had been assured of amnesty. The corrupt and increasingly polarized sects in Lebanon have transformed many of the killers and warlords into "political lords", several of whom still hold political leadership positions in Lebanon. Some are vying to become Lebanon's next President. Their past crimes seemingly long forgotten.

Despondency

The Shatila Massacre victims' families and the community of the 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, and their international supporters, re-live and re-examine the decades-old massacre each year at the Shatila's Martyr's Cemetery. The commemorators grow more despondent and cynical, but their determination increases every year.

September 18, 2016 Annual Commemoration at Martyrs  Cemetery, Shatila Camp.
September 18, 2016 Annual Commemoration at Martyrs Cemetery, Shatila Camp.
(Image by Franklin Lamb)
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Despondent over the fact that Palestinians here in Lebanon and elsewhere are still awaiting justice, as Saeb Erekat, the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) reminded the United Nations Security Council last weekend [UN Security Council meeting number 7772.]

Despondent over the fact that the government of Lebanon continues, contrary to binding Treaty and Customary International Law, to outlaw the elementary civil rights of the Palestinian refugees to work or to own a home. These fundamental human civil rights, which are granted to refugees in every country, are denied to the Palestinian refugees as Lebanon continues to flaunt international law and human rights.

Sixty eight years ago the 1948 Nakba, and 49 years ago the June 5, 1967 Naksa had forced more than 100,000 Palestinians to flee for their lives from the Zionists who were targeting their homes. They fled across the nearest border. Refugees who crossed over from north Palestine into Syria were immediately granted full refugee rights. But in Lebanon the Palestinian refugees grow more despondent as their human and civils rights continue to be denied to them by the Lebanese.

Despondent over the fact that in their camps nearly every indicia of social well-being, including but not limited to health care, social development, education, housing, security, and the ability to earn money and care for their families continues an accelerating downward spiral towards an abyss. Despondent because there is no indicia of a reversal in sight.

Armed clashes in Ain el Hilweh refugee camp, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon and located 40 miles south of Beirut, between Fatah and an Islamist group led by Bilal Badr are continuing as of today. Other groups are also fighting intermittently. One cause of the increased violence is the outlawing of the right to work and other civil rights which continue to be blocked by Lebanon's Parliament.

Despondency over the sounds of machine guns, bombs and rocket propelled grenades, such as happened near a vegetable market on the camp's al Fawqani Street. A taxi driver was murdered at the same location a few days ago, just as children started the school year. For two days this week camp residents held a general strike in Ain al Hilweh to protest the recurrent killings. Violence is also on the increase in Lebanon's other 11 Palestinian camps. Tensions fueled again by being deprived of the civil right to work and to own a home and feelings of general hopelessness over a lack of opportunities among the despondent young.

Cynicism

Nearly three and one half decades since the 1982 Sabra and Shatila Massacre, cynicism is also widespread and growing among Lebanon's Palestinian refugees, and with good reason. Few if any Palestinians this observer knows in Lebanon or Syria have much confidence in the current leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Cynicism grows which is aimed at the politicians in the region, whether they are Arabs, Iranians, Turks or others who continue to babble "Resistance" rhetoric, while at the same time they collaborate with right-wing anti-Palestinian officials in blocking Palestinian rights in Lebanon. Simultaneously the varying politicians posture while playing the "Palestinian Card."

Thirty-four years after the Sabra-Shatila Massacre, and ten years after the 2006 "Devine Victory" of the Lebanon resistance, cynicism is spreading ["Israel to replace Hezbollah's summer of 2006 Devine Victory with a 2015 summer of Devine Destruction [Foreign Policy Journal]". Hezbollah is now also openly criticized, even among a growing number of Shia, for playing the Palestinian Card while doing little if anything for the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

One hears in the camps increasingly, comments like these chronicled by two Palestinian Arab University students from Burj al Barajneh camp in south Beirut:

"What has the Resistance ever done for Palestinians in Lebanon's 12 camps?"

"Resistance begins at home by helping rebuild camp infrastructure, not by attacking Yarmouk and other Palestinian camps in Syria or by besieging, starving, blocking humanitarian aid and killing Palestinians in Syria."

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Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in (more...)
 

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