How is “the world” reacting to the siege of a refugee camp in Lebanon?
Jonathan Kay writes:
Last week, the Lebanese army attacked a squalid Palestinian refugee camp that’s become infested with Islamist suicide terrorists and guerilla fighters. On May 20, government troops surrounded the camp, with tanks and artillery pieces shelling it at close range. Army snipers gunned down anything that moved. At least 18 civilians were killed, and dozens more injured. Water and electricity were cut off. By week’s end, much of the camp had been turned into deserted rubble. Thousands of terrified residents fleeing the camp reported harrowing stories of famished, parched families trapped in their basements.
How did the rest of the world react? The Arab League quickly condemned “the criminal and terrorist acts carried out by the terrorist group known as Fatah al-Islam,” and vowed to “give its full support to the efforts of the army and the Lebanese government.” EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana also condemned Fatah al-Islam, and declared Europe’s “support” for Lebanon. And the UN Security Council called the actions of Fatah al-Islam “an unacceptable attack” on Lebanon’s sovereignty. As for the Western media, most outlets ignored the story following the first flurry of news reports.
At this point, please indulge me by re-reading the first paragraph of this post — except this time, substitute the world “Israeli” for “Lebanese” in the first sentence. Let’s imagine what the world’s reaction would be if the ongoing siege were taking place in Gaza or the West Bank instead of the Nahr al Bared refugee camp on the outskirts of Tripoli, Lebanon.
First of all, a flood of foreign journalists would descend on the camp to document Israel’s cruelty and barbarism, and the story would remain front-page news to this day. Al-Jazeera would be a 24/7 montage of grieving mothers swearing revenge on the Zionist butchers, and rumours would swirl of mass graves and poison gas. The Arab League, EU and United Nations would condemn Israeli aggression — as would the editorial board of The New York Times. The Independent would dispatch Robert Fisk to embed with Fatah al-Islam. And the newspaper’s cartoonist, Dave Brown, would produce another award-winning rendition of his signature theme: Jews eating Palestinian babies.
Actually, we don’t need to speculate: What I have just written is exactly what happened when the Israeli army invaded the Jenin refugee camp to root out terrorists in April, 2002, a battle that was similar in scale to this month’s siege at Nahr al Bared. (At Jenin, 52 refugee camp residents were killed — most of them gunmen, according to Human Rights Watch. At Nahr al Bared, the figure is 45 and climbing.) The main difference between the two sieges is that Israel’s army put its troops at far greater risk by invading Jenin with infantry — whereas the less humane Lebanese army has simply pummelled Nahr al Bared with explosives from a distance. Jews apparently care a lot more about saving Palestinian civilians than do Lebanese soldiers.