35th Anniversary of Palestinian Mass Slaughter in Lebanon Refugee Camps
This month marks the 35th anniversary of the mass slaughter of civilian Palestinians by Lebanese fascists in their Lebanon refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. The Palestinians who lived in the camps had been driven out of their villages in the Galilee by Israel. They had lived there for hundreds of years until the Zionist colonialists expelled them in 1948. The Israeli Army aided in the 1982 slaughter. The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which preceded the massacre, was given the greenlight by the United States. Up to 1982, the Palestine Liberation Organization, known as the PLO, had its headquarters in Beruit, Lebanon. This Israeli Army invaded Lebanon and succeeded in driving the PLO out. The United States gave written commitments to the PLO about protecting the civilian population in order to secure the PLO’s evacuation from Beruit the month before the slaughter at Sabra and Shatila camps.
Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon falsely asserted that there were 2000 terrorists in the camps. US Envoy to Lebanon Morris Draper did not dispute this falsehood. Sharon told Draper that ” We will kill them. They will not be left there. You are not going to save them.” Sharon sent Lebonese fascists into the refugee camps. They silently killed hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese, mostly women and children and old men, using knives and bayonets. The Israeli Army lit up the killing fields with flares. There was such a worldwide outcry that Israel was forced to set up a commission of inquiry. That commission found that Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for the massacre and recommended that he be dismissed from his post as Defense Minister.
The blowback from these events in Lebanon 35 years ago still echo today in the wars America is conducting in Syria and Iraq.
Guest – Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of “Under Siege: PLO Decision Making During the 1982 War”. and most recently “Brokers of Deceit: How the US Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.” Professor Khalidi recently had an article on the Sabra and Shatila massacre in The Nation magazine.
The Queensbridge House public housing project in Long Island City Queens is the largest such complex in the country. With more than 7,000 residents, it’s a community with little faith in civic engagement. Like other public housing communities, and low-income neighborhoods in general, poor people vote at considerably lower rates than wealthier ones. Many feel apathetic, that the system is rigged, and that their votes don’t matter.
One nonprofit in NYC is using innovative partnerships with community-based social service organizations to conduct nonpartisan voter mobilization so more underrepresented citizens participate in our democracy.
Community Votes is trying to change the culture and mindset of large nonprofit social service agencies so they integrate into their day-to-day operations civic engagement activities. These activities include promoting awareness of elections and issues and encouraging voting and other participation in federal, state, and city policy making. A few years ago Community Votes partnered with the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement, a longtime provider of social services in the Queensbridge Houses, to engage in personalized messaging to mobilize voters. The results were a considerably higher rate of voter turnout in the 2014 midterm elections.
Guest – Louisa Hackett is the director of Community Votes. Louisa founded Community Votes in 2013. Through her work at Community Resource Exchange providing consulting services to New York City nonprofit organizations, she recognized the assets direct service organizations have to turn more citizens into voters.