On Friday, March 30, in recognition of land day, the children of Sabra and Shatila, many of them orphans, put on a gleaming spectacle of song and dance at the UNESCO Palace auditorium in Beirut, Lebanon. For several hours, they demonstrated their solidarity for the dying children of the new Palestinian Intifada in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza. They also reminded the audience that there is no right that is greater than their natural right of return, Haq al-Awda, in Arabic.
For the ignorant, I tell you that these young children, who proudly danced and held their hands high in the Palestinian symbol of “V” for victory, are the legacy of Ariel Sharon. These are the children whose fathers and mothers were raped, pillaged, murdered and mutilated under the command and direction of Ariel Sharon in West Beirut in 1982.
For the misanthropist, these are the terrorists. They are bred to hate and to scare the Westerner such that he will never live a comfortable life.
For the principled, these are the victims of 53 years of injustice. These children are the hope of the future. Their collective memories of events that happened 53 years ago, long before their births, is the reason that Palestinians and their supporters in the human rights community have reason to believe that righteousness can someday prevail.
For the Zionist, they are the ultimate proof of the failure of the Zionist experiment, the 53 year media campaign, the endless money spent on buying the US government and the western media, the denigrating they have brought about to the values of their own religion.
Fifty-Three years to the week have passed since Zionist militias invaded their way from Tel-Aviv to Arab West Jerusalem, on their way to joining up with David-Ben Gurion’s Haganah, and massacring Palestinian civilians along their path, most notoriously at Deir Yassin. Across from Deir Yassin, the national holocaust memorial of the State of Israel now stands, a cruel irony to the terror that was unleashed there by men who became the leaders and pioneers of the Israeli state. This happened one month before the creation of the state of Israel and the so-called invasion of the Arab armies against the newly declared Zionist state. These events directly led to the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from their historical homeland, and the creation of the Palestinian Diaspora of 5.3 million Palestinians including the children of Shatila.
This weekend, in commemoration of Deir Yassin, and in solidarity with the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza under siege and occupation, rallies and vigils will be taking place worldwide, in coordination with each other, under the name of a world-wide movement of Palestinian refugees called, Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, from New York City, to London, Sydney, Ottawa, Madrid, Rome and elsewhere.
In Shatila, and in refugees camps all over the Middle East, rallies and vigils will also be taking place, that demonstrate to Ariel Sharon and the rest of Israeli society that their media game, their brutality and their racism will never break the wills of the Palestinian people.
In New York City, thousands will march and hear the testimonies of the vigilant and the brash of the Palestinian collective consciousness. From Muna Hamze, whose diary entries have moved thousands worldwide with her inner thoughts during the Intifada, to Edward Said, one of the pre-eminent intellectuals of our generation, the rally in New York will illustrate to the world that Palestinians will never sleep. And the children of Shatila will one day perform their dances in their ancestral homes.
The collective consciousness of the disinherited can never be silenced.
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.