As the world is witnessing the ascent of Ariel Sharon to the post of prime minister in Israel, the western media has done a mysterious thing. It has started to refer to him as a ‘dovish general’ and a man with ‘a tough and chequered past’. Lest we forget.
Ariel Sharon is a war criminal. His transgressions, including the massacre of over 60 Palestinian civilians in the village of Qibya in 1953, as documented by Israeli historian Benny Morris, and the massacre of over 2000 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982 in Israeli-occupied Beirut, where the Kahan Commission in Israel found him responsible and forced him to resign his post as Defence Minister, are notorious. Recently, Serbs Radovan Karadzic and Slobodan Milosevic were indicted for equally brutal crimes by an international war tribunal, as noted this week by ex-Israeli soldier James Ron in the Los Angeles Times. Ariel Sharon’s crimes though are forgotten, and he is celebrating his victory, becoming the leader of his country.
In recent weeks, there has been an onslaught of Zionist revisionism in popular media. Embassy spokespersons and Nobel laureates, from Thomas Friedman to Elie Wiesel, are systematically regurgitating the Zionist myths of the 20th century and denying the Palestinian people their rightful place as the historical inhabitants of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River and from the Hills of Galilee to the Corals of the Red Sea. The Zionist media machine is goading in its attempts to pre-empt world opinion against the notion of Palestinian Right of Return, denying the responsibility that the people of Israel has to bear for 5.3 million Palestinian refugees worldwide.
Recently in the Hartford Courant, a Zionist named Melvin Horowitz re-iterated the myth that the Palestinians fled their homes on their own accords. Just as the Zionist media machine is practicing selective amnesia regarding Ariel Sharon’s past, they are conveniently forgetting about Zionist operations Ben Ami, Pitchfork, Shiffon and others that systematically expelled Palestinians from their homes in 1947-48. Alas, in an excerpt of Yitzhak Rabin’s memoirs, published in the New York Times, on the 23rd of October 1979, he is quoted in recalling the conquest of Lydda, after the completion of Plan Dalet, “We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, ‘What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!'”
Boldly, Mr. Horowitz also reminds us that the Zionists made the desert bloom in Palestine. This has been used as a further piece of evidence that the Palestinian Refugees have no claim to their lands. Tell this to the people of France, who according French economic historian Paul Masson, were saved from numerous famines during the 17th and 18th centuries due to imports of wheat from Palestine. Or better yet, tell this to the Floridian citrus farmers, just as Henry Gillman, the American consul in Jerusalem, suggested to them that they could learn from Palestinian grafting techniques in 1856.
The Zionist media spin can keep disseminating its myths, but international law is unshakeable. In addition to binding UN Resolution 194, which explicitly calls for Israel to allow Palestinians to return to their homes and receive compensation for their dispossession, many other international conventions support the Palestinian right of return. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) provides that ‘Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country’.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) reaffirmed the fundamental rights of people and, in 1976 the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution which, in Article 12, stated: ‘Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own … (and) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country’. Finally, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, emphatically and solemnly declared that ‘Everyone is entitled, without distinction of any kind … to return to his country; No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality … as a means of divesting him of the right to return to his country; no one shall be denied the right to return to his own country on the ground that he has no passport or other travel document.’
Today, the citizens of Israel, not including the estimated 4 million Palestinians under their illegal occupation, have elected a man, Ariel Sharon, to power who has pledged that not one Palestinian will return to his home.
Should we expect less from a nation that in the last 20 years has elected one of the twentieth century’s most notorious terrorists, Menachim Begin, to power? The nation that elected Yitzhak Shamir, the man who ordered the assassination of Count Bernadotte, of the Swedish royal family, and UN mediator in Palestine in 1947, to power? The nation that elected Yitzhak Rabin, the man who pledged to break the bones of every Palestinian youth in the West Bank and Gaza during the first Intifada, to power?
The nation that elected Binyamin Netanyahu, the man who proclaimed when he was Deputy Foreign Minister on November 24, 1989, to students at Bar Ilan University, as reported in the Israeli journal Hotam, “Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass explosions among the Arabs of the territories”, to power?
The nation that elected Ehud Barak, the commando who dressed as a woman and assassinated a noble Palestinian poet, in 1973 in West Beirut, to power?
The nation that elected Ariel Sharon, war criminal, to poweré
Mr. Rabee’ Sahyoun is a economic development policy researcher at the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies and is affiliated with the global grassroots Palestine Right To Return Coalition.