Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Khalid Saghiyyah writes in Al-Akhbar :
One day [several years ago], after a long civil war, the Lebanese decided they were brothers, some shook hands with others, and they pointed the finger at those Palestinians who came to cause them trouble. They imprisoned them in a few square meters sealed off the camp thoroughly and denied them air.

And one day [referring to a few days ago] after a bitter political struggle, there started to arise voices from among the hawks of the opposition and the vipers in the government laying on that small camp the responsibility for the arrival of the country, once again, at the edge of the abyss. The two sides (government and opposition) don't lack for persons and parties with a long history of racist dealings with "the outsider" (al ghariib: literally the strange) and with the Palestinians in particular.

And their passion [referring to the determination by the March 14 movement to press the issue militarily rather than look for a political solution respecting the camps] has not been lessened by the number of civilians who have been killed... And it doesn't factor into their sense of compassion the fact that ...Fatah al-Islam is nothing but another of those extreme Islamist groups that exist outside of the camps as well as within the camps. And their expressions of enmity toward the Palestinians is not limited in any way by the existence of several reports that blame influential Lebanese entities for the financing of these groups.

Those who are awake to their inveterate racism haven't raised the issue of deliberate neglect of whole areas of Lebanon [ and there follows a reference to electoral politics that I don't completely understand].

There is a heavy price attached to this kind of bitter political division in societies where there is little to rally people together, just as there is a heavy price for extravagant economic policies in societies that are lacking in social services. Now, there are signs that chaos in Lebanon has been unleashed. Fatah al-Islam is not the cause of that. It is nothing but the chaff that has floated to the surface.

The basic idea is that there is a need for overhauling the policies for treatment of the Palestinians and the camps. But this comes with a feeling of horrible inevitability about the fact that the March 14 parties and other influential groups thought to have financed Fatah al-Ismal in the first place, are not interested in that, because, on the contrary, racism serves them well in their sectarian political plans.

The idea of approaching the current crisis by reforming camp policy first, and avoiding the kind of military solution the government is leaning toward, is explained in more prosaic terms in the lead editorial in Al-Quds al-Arabi this morning.


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