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Forum Post: Occupy A Country - Massacres Will Always Follow

Posted 2 years ago on March 20, 2012, 1:45 p.m. EST by Pujete (160) from New York, NY
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

I remember walking into Sabra and Shatila in south Beirut in 1982 just after the massacre of at least 1,700 Palestinians by Christian militiamen loosed on the refugee camps by the Israeli army. The bodies  were beginning to bloat as they lay heaped up in small shops and alleyways. Most were old men, women and the young, some half buried by a bulldozer that had pushed sand over them. The effort at hiding the slaughter was half-hearted, leaving heads, arms, legs and rags of clothes of the dead sticking out of the ground.

It would be wrong to say the memory of the massacre never left me, because for years I did not think about it. I even lost the clipping in the Financial Times, for which I then worked, describing what I had seen. But then, in 2008, I saw a brilliant animated film called Waltz with Bashir, by the Israeli director Ari Folman, about how he had been at Sabra and Shatila but had suppressed any recollection of it. So had Israelis as a whole. Just before the end of the film the animation ends and turns into news film. It shows a group of Palestinian women wailing with grief as they search for their murdered families. It is a moving scene and, I believed, new to me until I suddenly saw that, walking with the group of women, was myself.

It would be nice to say that the exposure of the Sabra and Shatila massacre changed things for the better, but it did not. The Israelis once again killed Palestinians and Lebanese civilians on a mass scale in 1996, 2006 and 2008. Describing the slaughter of Lebanese at Qana in south Lebanon in 2006, Anthony Shadid, the New York Times journalist who died in Syria in February, wrote that “where Israeli bombers caught their victims in the midst of a morning’s work, we saw the dead standing, sitting, looking around”. A one-year-old baby had died with its pacifier dangling from his body, and a 12-year-old curled into a fetal position seemed to be vomiting earth.

Massacres vary in their impact. Small atrocities can become the building blocks of history and others, in which greater numbers died, are soon forgotten. Mass killings by the government against peaceful protesters resonate more than those that are a by-product of armed conflict. What starts as an attempt to intimidate opponents can irreversibly delegitimize a state. British rule in India was fatally undermined by the massacre of unarmed Indian protesters by British troops in Amritsar in 1919; and the shooting of 13 demonstrators by British paratroopers on “Bloody Sunday” meant that the many Roman Catholics previously hostile to the IRA would now tolerate it. In each case, the opponents of British rule were enormously strengthened both by what had happened and by anger at official lies.

Will the latest massacre in Afghanistan have long-term significance? An American army sergeant shoots 16 Afghans, mostly women and children, in two villages in Kandahar province a week ago. The impact so far appears to have been greater outside than inside Afghanistan. Foreigners may be shocked by the killings of civilians, but Afghans will scarcely find it unprecedented. The 16 dead in Kandahar will appear to many as just more of the same, differing only in that the latest crime is more blatant and undeniable.

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7 Comments


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[-] 1 points by doitagain (234) from Brooklyn, NY 2 years ago

Many people all around the World believes that problems Middle east has caused by themselves. Not because overthrow government regime, oil fossils, narcotraffic control, etc Music Video La Coka Nostra - I'm An American (Feat. B-Real of Cypress Hill) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjfSbQ_fcHg&feature=player_embedded#!

[-] 0 points by Dumpthechump (96) 2 years ago

I suppose someone will provide you with a counterexample but here I preempt them.

There were no massacres (by Germans of the occupiers) after the occupation of Germany in 1945 though thousands of civilian Germans were killed even by Western occupying troops forcing them into open air camps in winter (1945-6). After this however there were no massacres of Germans (as far as I am aware) by Western or Eastern occupying troops since the Germans entirely and passively accepted the situation

There were no massacres from 1946 because the German-held belief in their racial superiority collapsed entirely with Hitler - hence the ready return of the older culture or of Soviet-style Communism.

The dispossession of Palestinians and the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan are entirely different situations but since the USA (and its allies) will not admit any error or injustice or its, or Israel's part, the massacres will continue since the populations will continue to resist - or simply die off from starvation, angering other countries and leading to WW3.

No other options are permitted on the table by the US authorities.

[-] 2 points by mantis1 (28) 2 years ago

There were massacres of thousands german men, women and children in Czechoslovalia as well as tens of thousands of rapes by Soviet troops. Estimates range as high as 1 million civilians during the invasion and immediatly afterward were slaughtered.

[-] 2 points by Dumpthechump (96) 2 years ago

Yes, the numbers you provide are what I have heard. If we put aside the Czechoslovakian killing of Germans, I had read that the Soviets killed perhaps 200-250,000 Germans (associated with rape, thrill kills, open-air camps etc.) but from the same source I read that the West also killed 50,000 Germans from open-air camps (people died in the winter cold).

Stalin of course made the Soviet slaughter worse since he permitted "rapine and gun-law"[sic] in conquered German areas. Nevertheless the Soviets suffered so terribly relative to the West (i.e. 20,000,000 Soviet dead) that the greater number of Germans killed afterwards in revenge is comprehensible.

There were also many German POW dead - which seems to be a case of Soviet neglect as well as incompetence since one would have thought they would be used as a labor force to repair the scorched earth policy of Hitler in the occupied Soviet zone. I suspect this has something to do with Soviet agricultural bureaucracy i.e. the poor food output under forced collectivization - but I have not read this.

This being said however both sides and the Germans soon put an end to any thoughts of revenge as the cold war broke out and both sides were eager to reconcile with the Germans and vice versa as soon as possible.

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[-] 2 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 2 years ago

We have fought a war on terror for over 10 years and we are slowly coming to the conclusion that the enemy is us.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 2 years ago

Treat Saddam as Hirohito????

I know many non-Moslem Iraqis and they fight like cats and dogs on this question i.e. "things were better under Saddam" and "the Americans should have kept Saddam in place but just kill his sons and get out of the country".

You will no doubt remember the spontaneous cheering in Baghdad streets when Udday and Kusay were killed - no doubt Saddam heard it on the radio in his hovel too!

Hence I make no dogmatic answer here except to indicate that any genuine resolution will involve more than Iraq alone and will require a global or at least Middle-Eastern transformation in consciousness and in the application of power-relations.

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