The following is part of a series of articles from Chris Tolworthy reposted here with kind permission. The articles together ask many questions about the September 11 atrocity and its aftermath, as well as looking into it from numerous angles. The articles are split into a number of pages on this site (which you can follow using the links at the bottom).
The Sabra and Shatila massacres - why do we ignore them?
The massacres at Sabra and Shatila provide an interesting comparison to the September 11th tragedy. Both killed around 2800 innocent people (although the exact count at Sabra and Shatila may be much higher). Both were probably guided by men with a history of terrorism. However, while Sepember 11th is remembered in the west, Sabra and Shatila are largely ignored.
In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon and killed between 2000 and 3500 innocent civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. The striking thing is that the west almost ignores it. Try a web search for "Sabra and Shatila" and look for western sources. For example, the Time Magazine web site just headlines the invasion as "Israel Strikes at The PLO" and barely mentions the massacre. Yet everyone agrees that it took place.
On December 16, 1982 the United Nations General Assembly condemned the massacre and declared it to be an act of genocide. Sharon resigned as defense minister, but later became Israeli Prime Minister.
The massacre was recently investigated by the BBC and the conclusions were damning. The BBC team reported on their investigation, and included this interesting comment:
A British parliamentary motion requested:
The motion added "that 400,000 people in Israel demonstrated their horror and disgust at such a crime against humanity"
How does this compare with the World Trade Center bombings - in numbers and in how it happened?
At time of writing (late January 2002) these issues are finally coming before a court in Belgium.
Will Sharon and others be tried for war crimes? Possibly.
Will they be found guilty? Probably not.
Since the trial was announced, key witnesses have been tracked down and assassinated:
For details of American support for Israel - currently approaching one hundred billion dollars - see the Washington Report at http://www.washington-report.org.1
Please note: HTML links were created between January-March 2002. Some of these links may have expired when you read this.
1. From The Irish Times2,commenting on the upcoming Belgian trial.
2. Fergal Keane, "Sabra and Shatila: Dealing with facts3"
3. House of Commons Wednesday 21 November 2001 Notices of Motions4
4. Professor Dr. Ahmad Al-Tal, "The Massacre of Sabra and Chatila in 1982.5" Professor Al-Tal is not some ignorant fanatic. He is Dean of Zarka Private National Community College. In 1980 he received an Award of Distinction from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. He is the author of several books on higher education and Jordanian history.
5. "Sharon witness blown up in Beirut6"" by Brian Whitaker and Ian Black. The Guardian, Friday January 25, 2002
6. "Third former militiaman with links to Sabra and Chatila is murdered7" by Robert Fisk. The Independent, 11 March 2002