Sabra, Shatilla and the Fire Next Time

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre in which 800 Palestinians were raped and murdered by Christian Phalange militamen.  The NY Times published an illuminating op-ed by a doctoral student who found verbatim transcripts of meetings between Israeli leaders including Ariel Sharon, largely responsible for the massacre and U.S. diplomats.  It reveals that Sharon not only lied and browbeat the Americans into allowing Israel and the Phalange extra time to murder Palestinians in the camps, but that Sharon explicitly told the Americans that this was what he intended.  It reveals Sharon to be an outright war criminal. Here a U.S. diplomat warns Sharon about what critics would say:

“Sure, the I.D.F. is going to stay in West Beirut and they will let the Lebanese go and kill the Palestinians in the camps.”

Mr. Sharon replied: “So, we’ll kill them. They will not be left there. You are not going to save them. You are not going to save these groups of the international terrorism.”

But even more importantly, Seth Anizka, author of the article, closes with this pointed reference to today’s roundelay among Israel, the U.S. and Iran:

The lesson of the Sabra and Shatila tragedy is clear. Sometimes close allies act contrary to American interests and values. Failing to exert American power to uphold those interests and values can have disastrous consequences: for our allies, for our moral standing and most important, for the innocent people who pay the highest price of all.

Barack Obama, are you listening? If you don’t stop Bibi from going to war against Iran you too will have heaps of Iranian corpses served up on a silver platter marked “Made in the USA.” It will be, in James Baldwin’s terms, “the fire next time.” If we think the response to the anti-Muslim film is harsh, imagine the world media flashing mounds of corpses of Iran’s dead throughout the Muslim world.

Israelis like to claim that all the Sunni nations would applaud Israel’s attack. I doubt it. When most Muslims see this, even if they dislike Iran, they will rally around the flag of Islam. Even if they don’t, there are enough Shiites in the world to cause their share of havoc to Israeli and U.S. interests.