Delaying justice for those who suffered at Sharon's hands at Qibya has allowed other innocents to fall into his murderous clutches. Sharon is a repeat offender because of repeat cover-ups by a complicit group of American 'journalists' who seem to relish the prospect of more Palestinian victims. Justice demands that they explain their motives for collaborating with this monster. (NileMedia, June 2001).
Unfortunately, since we wrote those words, Ariel Sharon has been allowed to go on another two-year war crimes spree in Gaza and the West Bank. His rap sheet has now been updated to include documented war crimes in Jenin, Nablus and Gaza.
Most recently, reports have emerged of a new Israeli collective punishment 'measure' to intensify the repression of the Palestinian people. Sharon has now added 'starvation' to his arsenal. Intensified collective punishment has resulted in the demolition of thousands of homes and the deliberate destruction of Palestinian infrastructure. Two to three Palestinians have been killed every day since he assumed the post of Prime Minister. The body count of Palestinian victims has now reached 2,500 dead while thousands of others have been wounded.
Sharon came into office promising Israeli voters that he would make the Palestinians 'quiet' in 100 days. Every Israeli who voted for Likud knew what Sharon had in mind. They voted for a man who had a reputation for cold-blooded brutality. A thousand days later, the Palestinians are as resilient as ever. But they have endured deep wounds that could have been avoided but for the overt collaboration of Sharon's American mass media allies.
Sulzberger, Murdoch, Graham, Conrad and company have systematically sanitized every Israeli war crime since the start of the Palestinian uprising for independence. In an open alliance with the neo-cons that now dominate the State Department and Pentagon, America's media barons issued Sharon a license to torment the Palestinians. They all joined the chorus to 'Let Sharon Win'.
As a result of their efforts, the undeclared three-word policy of the Bush Administration has been to 'let them bleed'. The expected outcome was that the Palestinians would do all the bleeding. As events unfolded, Israelis were destined to do their fair share of dying.
Things didn't have to be this way. Had Sharon been tried for war crimes at Qibya and Sabra and Shatila, both Israelis and Palestinians might have well been deep into the final stages of the peace process. If the media giants had allowed the American public to probe Sharon's past, it is unlikely that George Bush would have had the gall to champion Sharon as a 'man of peace'.
To their credit, many British and European journalists were willing to part company with the American media giants. The BBC and others made valiant attempts to shed public light on Ariel Sharon before he could embark on another vicious orgy of violence against the native people of the Holy Land.
Two years ago, the BBC aired a documentary about Sabra and Shatila that should have been made two decades earlier. Not surprisingly, the conclusion was that Ariel Sharon should be indicted for war crimes. In London, the Israeli press attache, David Schneeweiss, protested. "We've been in touch with the BBC at all levels to find out what the programme's about. One has to question why they are focusing on old news. These events happened 20 years ago."
(Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, 6/15/001).
Predictably, The BBC came under a full frontal assault by pro-Israeli apologists for a Panorama program, The Accused, that aired on Sunday, June 17, 2001. There was good reason for panic among Israeli officials and their international public relations support team, which includes blunt instruments like the New York Times, CNN and FOX. This should have been the start of the final chapter in the long struggle to bring Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to justice for his war crimes in Sabra and Shatila and Qibya. It came at a time when a Belgian court was diligently probing into Sharon's criminal past. Unfortunately, so much American pressure was put on the Belgians that they actually resorted to changing their laws to save Sharon from the consequences of a war crimes tribunal. The Belgian courts walked away from the case because of lack of jurisdiction.
It is worth noting, for the benefit of Israeli press attaches, that the Associated Press was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (2000) for a series of reports that uncovered details of mass killing by U.S. soldiers of hundreds of Korean civilians at No Gun Ri in July 1950. In accepting the prize the AP reporters offered praise to "the Korean survivors who would not let their quest for truth die." Just a few months earlier, the New York Times made a big splash by revealing that Ex-Senator Bob Kerrey was involved in atrocities against civilians in the Vietnamese village of Thanh Phong. In a CBS interview, Kerrey was candid enough to say that "to describe it as an atrocity, I would say, is pretty close to being right, because that's how it felt, and that's why I feel guilt and shame for it."
To this day, the Israelis and their mass media pals waste no effort to sanitize Sharon's bloody resume. Details of the war crimes committed by this serial mass murderer are buried in the 'old news' archives. A dateline comparison of Kerry and Sharon's war crimes is very instructive. Kerrey's news was a decade older than Sabra and Shatila. The slaughter of Koreans at No Gun Ri took place half a century ago, three years prior to Qibya. As any high school kid can tell any Israeli press attaché, Nazi war criminals, many in their nineties, are still liable for crimes committed during World War II. When it comes to war crimes there are no statutes of limitations and there are no exemptions for Israeli nationals, even Prime Ministers.
Perhaps due to the magnitude of the slaughter, this BBC Panorama documentary focused on Sabra and Shatila. But the details of the war crime at Qibya make an even stronger case for indicting Ariel Sharon. At Qibya, Sharon was on site supervising the Israeli soldiers who did the killing.
To quote from an earlier article: "The slaughter at Qibya, a West Bank village outside Jerusalem, took place on October 14, 1953. A contingent of 600 Israeli troops, led by Ariel Sharon, using explosives, blew up a whole village, killing every single Palestinian inhabitant. Every man, every woman and every child was murdered in cold blood. There were other similar incidents involving Sharon's notorious "Unit 101" through out the 1950s..… The thing about the slaughter at Qibya, is Sharon has no alibis. Israeli Forces under his command, in his presence and with his explicit orders carried out the massacre. He slaughtered those innocent villagers with malicious intent as part of Israel's long-standing policy to sanction massive acts of vengeance against unarmed 'enemy' civilians. The Qibya massacre was deliberately and callously calibrated to insure the highest possible number of casualties."
While the details of the atrocities at No Gun Ri and Thanh Phong were known only to a select few and had to be 'dug' up by investigative journalists, any New York Times or Washington Post journalist could have found out about Sharon by tuning in to see the BBC. But that was not part of their 'mission statement'. The Likudniks at Sulzberger's daily ruse are not about to rehash the past of their favorite war criminal. A search of their vaunted archives, going all the way back to 1996, turns up one reference to Qibya. Not surprisingly it was a white wash by William A. Orme Jr (Warrior Who Confounds - Ariel Sharon, NYT. 2/7/2001).
In a previous article, 'The Stain On the Press', we exposed Orme's public relations work for his Qibya client. The boys on 43rd street are used to getting away with this kind of nonsense. Covering up Israeli war crimes is just another day's work for the gray lady. Ironically, at the time of Sharon's election, the New York Times was celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of going to court to publish the Pentagon papers. Bob Kerrey must have been eating his heart out and wishing he was Yiddish too.
Sharon's past will sooner or later catch up with him. It will be interesting to see how long the mass media in America can continue to ignore the BBC and Belgian tribunals. As usual, the only defense available to the Israel Firsters was to smear the BBC as anti-Semitic. To their credit, the BBC did not back out of airing the program. But expect The New York Times to stick to a tradition of exposing ex-Senators while continuing to worship at the altar of sacred Israeli mass murderers.
Sharon could have been brought to justice long before he ascended to the office of Prime Minister. We should all applaud the efforts of the BBC and the Belgian courts for doing their part to expose his bloody past. Aside from Qibya and Sabra and Shatila, he should also have been tried for the indiscriminate bombardment of Beirut in 1982, resulting in tens of thousands of innocent civilian casualties, his 1971 ethnic cleansing campaign in Gaza and the slaughter of Egyptian POWs in 1956.
His war crimes since assuming office are directly attributable to the fact that he got away with earlier atrocities against the Palestinians and Lebanese.
Two years ago, a successful Sharon indictment would have served a number of purposes. It would have delivered justice to his victims and prevented him from adding more war crimes to his rap sheet. Getting Sharon's record out in the open might have even persuaded Israelis to re-examine their compulsive habit of voting for war criminals. For Americans, it would have exposed the incredible deception the mass media machine is capable of in the name of Israel. As an additional benefit, the Congressmen and Senators who heaped praise on Sharon would have been seen for what they are; a breed of men who would dine with a mass murderer, so long as he reaches for the check after the meal.
Sharon's apologists should be exposed along with Sharon. The American journalists and politicians who openly embrace him should have to answer the question: "what did you know about Qibya and when did you know it?"
It is not enough to worry about Sharon, it is time to seriously worry about the mass media machine that markets a war criminal as 'Grand Pa Sharon' just waiting to rock Colin Powell on his knees. One needs to worry about an American Jewish community that coddles war criminals, even as they demand compensation for German war crimes.
The Israelis elected Sharon because of his 'talents'. And that should ring alarm bells about the racist and belligerent attitudes of an Israel that has drifted from the right to the extreme right. Journalists like Charles Krauthammer, Wolf Blitzer, Thomas Friedman and Murdoch's morons have consistently given aid and comfort to this vicious warlord and should be held in contempt. William Safire has gone so far as to boast about writing speeches for Sharon. Given that they were all well aware of Sharon's past, their collaboration was no simple passive act. Delaying justice for those who suffered at Sharon's hands at Qibya has allowed other innocents to fall into his murderous clutches. Sharon is a repeat offender because of repeat cover-ups by a complicit group of American 'journalists' who seem to relish the prospect of more Palestinian victims. Justice demands that they explain their motives for collaborating with this monster.
A note to the reader: This article was originally published on June 18, 2001. It was written in the vain attempt to shame American journalists from further collaboration with Sharon and his extremist agenda. It has been updated to demonstrate the disastrous results of their continued efforts to sanitize the war criminal past of the Prime Minister of Israel.
Ahmed Amr is the editor of NileMedia.com. This article can be published and distributed at will.