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Thomas Friedman on Israeli Involvement at Sabra and Shatila

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by PresidentMike, Sep 12, 2003.

  1. PresidentMike

    PresidentMike Technical Fool

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    This thread grew out of a discussion with G-Man in the Israeli security Cabinet will work to 'remove' Arafat thread. G-Man contended that there was no evidence indicating that Israeli troops knew about or observed the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon on September 16-18, 1982. Between 450-1000 Palestinean civilians were killed by Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia.

    The following is an excerpt from Thomas Friedman’s book From Beirut to Jerusalem. Mr. Friedman is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and columnist for the New York Times. In 1982 he was the Time’s correspondent in Beirut and was present in the city at the time of the massacre. I have edited the passage down to the relevant sections, but have not altered any of Mr. Friedman’s words.

     
  2. G-Man

    G-Man A One Man's War

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    First, regarding the former thread, this shows quite clearly that Sharon was not inovolved in this situation, and unlike what you claimed there didn't order troops to stand aside.

    Now -
    There's hardly much indication of any real evidences Israeli soldiers would have had that there was a massacre there. There are bits of information that were they joined together at the time would've suggested at it, which is where the Israeli failure is. However concluding from this that Israel is responsible for the attacks would be the same as saying that the Americans are responsible to the sep 11th and pearl harbor attacks.

    Sorry I don't make a longer post but I'm terribly tired....
     
  3. PresidentMike

    PresidentMike Technical Fool

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    The Israeli government commission that reported on the massacre disagreed.

    Order Number 6, issued on September 16, 1982 by the Israeli army general staff stated that the "refugee camps [Sabra and Shatila] are not to be entered. Searching and mopping up the camps will be done by the Phalangists and the Lebanese army."

    Sharon, who had a reputation as a hands on Defense Minister, certainly new about and approved this order.

    You stated in an earlier post that "the Israeli soldiers weren't even there and didn't even know about it" and that "there are no evidences at all that Israeli troops knew what was really happening there."

    So where is there no "real evidence" that the Israeli troops did not know? Foreign reporters who visited the area for a few hours on the first day could tell that something bad was going on. They didn't have the access or intelligence that the Israeli army had, including (as Friedman demonstrated) excellent observation points of the camps.

    Israeli commanders listened as the Phalangists ordered civilians shot. They heard reports from their own subordinates that a massacre was taking place, and did nothing. They could clearly see inside the camp and understand what was going on. There were signs everywhere of what was happening, but they took no action. The Israeli government knew that the Phalangists were bent on purging the Palestinean camps, and sent them in anyway.

    Does Israel bear sole responsibility? No. IDF troops did not pull the triggers that sent 1000 people to their deaths. But they did allow the Phalangists in, knowing what would happen, and they did stand by while the milita killed everyone they saw. Clearly they are partly responsible.

    As for Pearl Harbor and 9/11: I hardly see how that is a proper analogy for Sabra and Shatila. In the first two cases the U.S. was attacked by an outside power. You could argue it was provoked, but what does that have to do with Beirut and the massacre, unless you are saying Israel was provoked into killing innocent men, women and children.

    I don't understand how you can read this account and still come away convinced that Sharon and Israel bear no blame. This isn't an Arab tabloid that's reported 4,000 Jews got a call to stay away from the WTC on 9/11. This is an internationally respected and award winning journalist working for arguably the greatest newspaper in the world. He is an impeccable source, and his account leaves no room for doubt in my mind.
     
  4. Mopheo

    Mopheo Warlord

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    Thomas Friedman is not an "impeccable source." He has definite and strongly held opinions on a variety of issues, probably including Israel (I know him from his globalization papers). This might bias his account toward his personal interpretation. A while ago I saw an excellent article linked from here expressing the other view point which might be useful in this discussion.
     
  5. Benderino

    Benderino Loyal American Democrat

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    Know they didn't. The Phalangists were sent in to root out a terrorist cell believed to be there. It was supposedly well armed and defended by the PLO.

    Yes, Israel does deserve some blame, but not nearly as much as it received internationally. The main thing you are missing is the people's reaction to the event.

    To quote a man/book I have many times here in the past (The author is described here: http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/mbbio.html ):

    Thus, it was the Israelis who were more outraged than the Muslims! And no Muslims were angry when they committed massacres.

    EDIT: Mopheo, is this the site you were talking about?
     
  6. Mopheo

    Mopheo Warlord

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    That was it, thanks.
     
  7. Benderino

    Benderino Loyal American Democrat

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    Oh cool. Yes, that would probably have been me, then, since I have posted that same quote three times now in regards to this same subject...I bet G-Man could vouch for that. ;)
     
  8. G-Man

    G-Man A One Man's War

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    Sharon might've known about this, but there's nothing wrong with this. Sending an army to take over an area in a war is a legitimate move.


    How am I supposed to provide evidences that soldiers didn't know? You claim they knew, now proove it. Even Friedman admits it's possible Israeli soldiers didn't know about it at all.

    How was the Israeli goverment supposed to know this?
    And if Israeli soldiers really heard anything about civilians shot how come the only report he's quoting is "Do the will of God", which is a VERY common saying in arabic, especially when talking about a religious army.

    How were they supposed to know this will happen?

    The analogy isn't about the attacks but about the information regarding them. In both cases the US had plenty of evidences suggesting such a thing will happen but not all the information was put together and that's what made the attacks possible. Israel had pieces of information suggesting there's a massacre, but they weren't put together and so the massacre was possible.

    A journalist who admits it's entierly possible that Israel simply didn't know about it, and who provided absolutely no evidences that Sharon did anything. Israel's blame is one of not finding out about these massacres, not one of allowing them and certainly not of creating them.
     

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