Thursday, March 12, 2009

I mentioned earlier that a new "Arab quartet" was started yesterday, with the leaders of Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait holding a summit to come up with a unified approach to Arab issues. And the only issue they mentioned explicitly was the "Palestinian issue."

Interestingly enough, when it comes to actually helping Palestinian Arabs, their Arab brethren fall consistently short.

While Gaza - an area proudly run by an unrepentant terror group who cheers the deaths of civilians - received pledges of some $5 billion to rebuild, another set of Palestinian Arabs who were caught in a war and who suffered (percentage-wise) much greater damage have been all but ignored by the Arab world. In this case, I'm not talking about the few thousand Iraqi Palestinians who lost their homes after being chased out of Iraq by resentful native Iraqis, but about the Lebanese Palestinians whose camps were destroyed in last year's fighting between the Lebanese Army and terrorists in the camps:
The United Nations has laid a foundation stone at the Nahr al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon to mark the formal start of reconstruction there.

The Palestinian refugee camp was destroyed in heavy fighting between Islamist militants and the Lebanese army in 2007.

Some 400 people died and 30,000 Palestinians were displaced.

But there is not enough money to rebuild completely, and some of its residents booed as work began.

As the first stone in the reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared was laid, some Western diplomats admitted the occasion was not as positive as the organisers had hoped.

The UN's relief agency for Palestinian refugees (Unwra) has only managed to raise $43m (£31m) to rebuild the camp - a tiny fraction of the $430m needed.

Lebanon's rich neighbours in the Gulf have not delivered the funds they pledged.

Only 50m (165 feet) away from the VIP guests, several hundred Palestinian refugees booed from behind barbed wire.

Displaced by last year's fighting between the army and the Islamic militants, these refugees now live in the areas around the camp, surrounded by the rubble of their homes.

They say they worry about whether the international community will ever find the money to rebuild their homes.

But even if they do, Mahmoud, like many here, says it will not solve their problems in Lebanon.

"This is not life, this is not life. We need to change this country. We have no rights here, we have no rights. We need life. Where is the life? Here, no life."

There are more than 200,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, living in 12 camps across the country.

Palestinians have been here for more than 60 years - since the creation of Israel - but they are still barred from at least 70 professions, have no access to state education or healthcare, and cannot move freely or buy land.
Compared to the entire Palestinian Arab population of Lebanon, the war last year was far more devastating than the Gaza war was for Gazans. The average Palestinian Arab in Lebanon was five times more likely to lose their home and twice as likely to be killed compared to Gazans.

Yet the world pledged billions for Gaza and only a tiny fraction of that for Lebanese Palestinian Arabs.

What could account for the incredible discrepancy between the attention and money given to Gaza and that given to Lebanese camps?

When Jews are involved in killing Palestinian Arabs - no matter how justified their cause, no matter how defensive the actions, no matter how careful they are to avoid civilian deaths - there are cries of "genocide" and "holocaust." Europeans go out of their way to show empathy to the Arab victims. People contribute cash and aid. Nations pledge billions. Prominent politicians and poets and others rush to show their support. Everyone loves Palestinian Arabs - when they are perceived as the victims of Jews.

Yet when Arabs are killing Palestinian Arabs, the world sympathy for Palestinian Arabs dries up completely. No screaming headlines, no money, no charity drives, no European bleeding hearts, no Gulf states sending convoys of medical aid, clothing and building materials. No one castigates Lebanon in the UN for explicit discrimination against a minority group of 200,000, most of whom were born in that country, and their refusal to let them own land, take many jobs or become citizens. No boats of activists are being sent to Lebanon to bring public attention to a problem that really does need public attention. No countries say they will arrest any Lebanese officials who visit as "war criminals."

How much starker could the hypocrisy of "human rights advocates" be? How much more obvious can it be that a significant percentage of people who claim to care about Palestinian Arabs are, in fact, anti-semites who cloak their hatred of Jews in the mantle of "human rights"?

When Alice Walker, Lauren Booth, and George Galloway decide to visit Palestinian Arabs suffering under oppression in Lebanon, and they speak out about that oppression, then they can claim to be compassionate. When Caryl Churchill writes a play about Lebanon, talking about how Arabs pretend to care about their Palestinian brothers while actively working to keep them second-class citizens, then she can claim not to be anti-semitic. When the nations of the world decide to have a "donor's conference" to raise billions for Palestinian Arabs who have been victimized by their own people, then they can claim to be fighting for human rights and justice.

But until that happens, there is only one logical reason that all these people pretend to be fixated on Gaza, and it is not to help the Paletinian Arabs there. Deep down, they are itching to blame the Jews. They feel deeply that those Jews who are so sanctimonious, who claim to be the "chosen people," who claim to be moral, need to be taken down a peg. They love the delicious and manufactured irony of Holocaust victims turning into oppressors. The unfashionable hate of Jews has been replaced with the vary fashionable hate of the Jewish state and all its actions. Above all, they love to paint the Palestinian Arabs as the Jews of the 21st century, suffering under the Nazi-like Zionist regime, pretending that Gaza is the Warsaw Ghetto with heroic Arabs fighting for their very dignity.

I know I am painting with a broad brush here. Certainly there are people who are honest in their criticisms of Israel and who criticize others as well. But the acid test of whether a critic of Israel is acting based on morality and not anti-semitism is by seeing what they say - or ignore - about Lebanon.

By that standard, there are precious few legitimate and honest critics of Israel.

(BBC article h/t Andre in the comments)


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