One of the panelists at yesterday’s roundtable presented her research: a comparison on the manner through which the 2006 War on Lebanon and the 2007 “Conflict” in Nahr el Bared were presented by the Lebanese Government. Hezbollah, viewed as terrorist by Israel, and Fateh el Islam, viewed as terrorist by the Lebanese Government. How were the civilians killed in both wars presented, how were the displaced treated, etc. Interesting comparison.
A more interesting comparison, and a more radical one, would have been to compare Fateh el Islam in 2007 in Lebanon with Al Qaeda in 2001 in the US.
* Both attacked structures of national importance. [Fateh el Islam: the Lebanese police and then the Lebanese Army. Al Qaeda: the symbol of economic strength in the US: World Trade Center]
* Both were funded by individuals/parties aligned previously or currently with the Government [Al-Qaeda funded by the US in its war in Afghanistan; and Fateh el Islam … ]
* In both cases, there were “good civilians” and “irrelevant civilians.” The undocumented workers who were killed in the World Trade Center were not discussed in the mainstream US press; their deaths, like their lives, bypassed by the mainstream. The Palestinian civilians killed in the 2007 Nahr el Bared conflict – also dismissed by [the majority] of the Lebanese press. [the exception: Al-Akhbar]
* In both cases, the general public was told to be either with “US or Them” – i.e. either with the terrorists or with the Government’s response. In other words, if you opposed US wars on Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq (both sold to the public as a response to 9-11), then you’d be supporting the terrorists. And in Lebanon, if you opposed the Lebanese Government’s response to destroy the Nahr el Bared Refugee Camp, then you’d be supporting the terrorists of Fateh el Islam. I lived both experiences, and being in Lebanon in 2007 felt akin to being in the US in 2001.
* In both cases, the Government took advantage of the attack to inflame *pre-existing* racism. Contrary to what too many like to portray, attacks against Muslims and Arabs in the US did not begin in 9-11, but were escalated during the Clinton years, and racism against Muslims and Arabs (and all those classified as “other”) had been stoked before. 9-11 simply built it up to a higher level. In Lebanon, racism – both individually and in policies – against Palestinians did not begin in 2007. I was told by a high ranking Army official that “All Palestinians are guilty until proven innocent.” Same response in the US towards all the “others” as well.
Let’s take that a step further even. The terrorist attack of 9-11 was presented in the mainstream press in the US as having ‘ties’ to Iraq, and many a US soldier joined the Army then to attack Iraq to kill those people who had participated in the 9-11 attack. No evidence presented. Iraq was innocent of 9-11 — both people and government.
In Nahr el Bared, Palestinians in the camp were presented as being guilty – of one crime or another – and thus they too were made to pay the price for a crime they did not commit. [Then again, like one person told me back then: they must have been guilty of something. aH]
* And in both cases, the destruction remains. Afghanistan and Iraq. The destruction continues. The devastation continues. [All for ulterior agendas.] And Nahr el Bared remains destroyed. Unbuilt. Civil rights infringements against the Palestinians from Nahr el Bared continue. [an ulterior agenda as well?]