by Brenda Heard
The 15th of May is a day of remembrance. Around the world, we remember the systematic displacement and massacre of the Palestinian people. In their honour, we take note of the necessity of safeguarding the sliver of impoverished land that has been left to the survivors. We pay tribute to those who have refused to be stomped into oblivion.
Yet the Israeli newspaper Haaretz bemoans self-righteously the ‘Palestinian protests for the annual Nakba Day, which mourns the creation of the State of Israel’. At this phraseology we can only shake our heads and say, ‘no, it is not about you; it is about the injustice done to the Palestinian people; it is this injustice that is the catastrophe’.
It is this Haaretz-style twisted logic that tries to excuse the Israeli military shooting of hundreds of protesters—killing at least fifteen—on the Lebanese and Syrian borders on Nakba Remembrance Day 2011. For instance, Haaretz never mentions that Majdal Shams, where one of the demonstrations took place, is disputed as occupied Syrian land. Instead, Haaretz scorns ‘large numbers of infiltrators trying to breach Syria’s southern border’, as though they were an invading army. At the same time, in that twisted logic, it reveals photographs of maybe a hundred or so people milling about with a few flags:
As for the Lebanese border, Haaretz repeatedly admits that protesters were killed ‘on the Lebanese side of its shared frontier with Israel’, yet boldly quotes Israeli Military Spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, who ‘said troops opened fire at a large crowd of Lebanese protesters who approached the border with Israel. He said soldiers fired at the crowd when the demonstrators reached the border and began vandalizing the fence, and that the army was aware of casualties on the other side’. [emphasis added]
Haaretz acknowledges that the Lebanese Army was present and containing the demonstration. It acknowledges that the Palestinian youths had only words and stones to hurl at the Israeli Army tanks metres away. It acknowledges that the Israeli Army knew it was inflicting casualties.
Yet the Haaretz headline reads ‘Eight said killed as IDF fires on infiltrators from Syria and Lebanon’. As though the neighbouring countries were launching military invasions. As though as the Israeli troops, in their tanks, were merely defending themselves by shooting down unarmed protesters.
There is no mention of ‘Palestinians’ in the headline. There is never a mention of ‘Palestine’. No, in the media that propagates the Zionist agenda, the Palestinians who dared to shout their frustration are shunned as ‘infiltrators’, or as the Israeli military labels them, ‘rioters and inciters’. Indeed it seems the media takes its cue from the Israeli military itself, which described the day’s happenings as:
Additionally, along the Lebanese border, several rioters attempted to breach the border fence and to infiltrate into Israeli territory. IDF forces responded by firing warning shots’.
A very fatal warning, we should add. In this so-called bastion of democracy in the Middle East, to carry a Palestinian flag as a reminder that it is, contrary to the claims of the whingeing PM Netanyahu, the very existence of Palestine that is in jeopardy—this simple act of demonstration is punishable by death. Instant and irreversible execution.
The Lebanese Army has confirmed that 10 protesters were shot dead and 112 wounded in Lebanon on Nakba Remembrance Day. Yet the Israeli military spokesperson ignores this reality and refuses all responsibility:
The IDF emphasizes that attempts to damage property or cause harm to security forces will be responded to. The IDF sees the governments of Syria and Lebanon as responsible for any violence or provocation towards Israel that emanates from their respective territories’.
Déjà vu? In March 1978, the Israeli government declared Lebanon ‘responsible’ for the actions of displaced Palestinians, never mind that they had been displaced by the Israeli forces in the first place. And so the Zionist military attacked Lebanon with a fury that resulted in a twenty-two year military occupation. As primed as the Israelis are to wage war again, however, history will not be repeated. The people of the world who seek peace will continue to remember. And we will continue to work to eradicate the injustice of apartheid.
Brenda Heard is founder of the Friends of Lebanon organization in London.