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February 10, 2000
Are you a Sabra or a Shatila?

By Ahmed Amr,


The election of a war criminal like Sharon marks the latest extreme spasm of Israeli zealotry. It is partly a militant Israeli reaction to the uprising in the Palestinian colonies and anger at Barak for not being sufficiently excessive in administering Israeli fire power to the restless natives. If Barak had inflicted more punishment, If his kill count was higher, he would have gotten more votes from both the Israeli Sabras and the Israeli Shatilas.

Another major factor motivating Israel’s Sabras and Shatilas, was that the Oslo agreements had finally come around to dealing with the Palestinian right of return. Any authentic Sabra or Shatila believes what old Golda Meir told them about "the Palestinians never existing". The Israeli public was barely prepared to deal with an independent Palestinian state, much less to accommodate Palestinians who had the audacity to claim a right to return to their ancient villages and towns.

The Zionist, as Sharon simply puts it, will not abide the idea of having so many Palestinians "polluting their roads and their beaches". Too much racial mixing is not a good thing. Diversity is good in New York and Los Angeles, but a horrible unworkable option in Palestine. As any New York Times or CNN employee will be glad to tell you, the natives of Palestine should forever forget their native land and just cope with the fact that their country has been designated an exclusive refuge for the ingathering of the Jews. Palestinians can never go home since their arrival would disturb the Jewishness of a place that must eternally have a Jewish majority. So, they voted for Sharon. Young Israeli Shatilas and old Israeli Sabras embraced each other to elect a man who can deal an iron fist to the ambitious native Palestinians.

So, now they have their Sharon, a Sabra notorious for his criminal war history at Qibya and Gaza and Beirut and Sabra and Shatila. If there is any image problems, the Likudniks at the New York Times and FOX NEWS will come up with an appropriate "war hero" spin. And if the Americans and the rest of the world don’t buy into it, well they will just stop covering what they cannot cover up.

Which brings every Israeli Sabra and every Israeli Shatila back to square one. After fifty-three years of attempting to torment the Palestinians away from Palestine, Sharon is expected to make them vanish with his own unique potion of violence laced with venom. Barak’s recipe was apparently too diluted for the taste of both Israeli Sabras and Israeli Shatilas.

So, whether you are an Israeli Sabra or an Israeli Shatila, there is a few minor questions you should ponder. What happens when the Jews for Jesus set up camp and come to think of themselves as part of the Palestinian Christian community? What happens if some of these European Jews decide to "go native" and take on Islam so that they can jive with their Middle Eastern surroundings? What happens when the messiah proclaims himself and the Sephardic accept him and the Ashkenazi will not? What happens when ambitious Israeli tech wizards tire of the price they pay for having exclusive ethnic enclaves and immigrate to the more promising and more multi-cultural Silicon Valley? In a ‘global’ economy, what happens when old Italian leftists decide to retire in Haifa, because it is cheaper than Milano? What if that French pensioner who decides to move in next door is half Algerian? What then do you do to retain these sacred Zionist ideal of a permanent Jewish majority in Israel? Will you institute another campaign of expulsion of non-Jews to maintain a Jewish majority? Who will be forced to pack their bags first? the Italian ex-pat? the Jews for Jesus? the Sephardic heretic? Will you restore your Jewish "balance" by bulldozing a Swedish retirement village or an ancient Palestinian village in the Galilee?

Now what happens when the day comes and your kid gets into a little scientific inquiry and tests his DNA at the local pharmacy and finds that he is Slavic or Germanic or Ethiopian or Berber or Arab? What will you do when your offspring picks up a book about religious mythology and figures out the difference between Zionist mythology and historic realities? How will you react when, on his first trip to Europe, some cool Dutch guy of Arab descent tells her about Sabra and Shatila and Qibya and Sharon? Will Shatila still want to be called a daughter of a Sabra?

Then your kid gets curious and probes into a little archeology, a little history, a little science and discovers that your zealous Sabra dogma caused you to commit a communal crime against a native community on the strength of a test of faith and self-righteous European arrogance. So your child, raised as a proud Shatila daughter of a vain Sabra comes home and pops that question "Mama, did you or dad vote for that butcher Sharon in 2001?" And you start to rant on about the Nazi crimes and Hitler and what happened in 1938 and Krystal Nacht and Shoah and the dreams of Ben Gurion. And the young Shatila’s questions will just keep coming at the old Israeli Sabras.." Hey, Grandpa, speaking of Ben Gurion, tell me again what you did in 1948 at Deir El Yassin? Is it true you served with Elie Wiesel in the Irgun".

But the question that will always torment you is this one: "Hey, dad, why do we Israelis call ourselves Sabras and the Palestinians call us Shatilas?"