Friday, February 22, 2013

Israel / Sabra & Shatila Massacre

Sharon in 1983: Israel Could Be Accused of Genocide
By Roi Mandel, February 21, 2013
"'If we adopt this report, our ill-wishers and naysayers will claim that what happened in the (Sabra and Shatila) camp was genocide,' Defense Minister Ariel Sharon warned the cabinet in 1983 during a special meeting dealing with the findings of the Cohen Report on the Sabra and Shatila massacre in the First Lebanon War. Sharon refused to resign, as the external fact-finding mission's report had recommended, and repeatedly stressed that he and then Prime Minister Menachem Begin were in the same boat. Adopting the report, Sharon claimed, would 'leave a mark of Cain on us for generations to come.' Thirty years later, the State Archives on Thursday cleared for publication the protocols of cabinet meetings from the early 1980s, specifically those dealing with the outcome of Cohen Report and the death of Peace Now activist Emil Grunzweig. The main meeting held following the publication of the report by Chief High Court Justice Yitzhak Cohen took place on Febuary 10, 1983 -- the day Grunzwieg was killed.
Sharon arrived late. Prime Minister Begin noted that Sharon had informed him of a Peace Now protest being held near his farm causing him to run late. Sharon eventually arrived but not before all those present called for a full implementation of the report's recommendations, despite the price Sharon would have to pay -- stepping down as defense minister. Sharon, whose resignation was recommended in the report, as well as a desicion [sic] barring him from ever holding the Defense Ministry portfolio again, arrived very tense, and began lashing out. 'I am not keen on getting into personal reflections nor searching for victims and scapegoats. On the face of it there are parts of the report that could, and should be adopted. However, I found parts which in my opinion should not be accepted. The question is much broader than the personal question -- of which people seem to focus on ceaselessly -- of whether Sharon will go or not. 'The chapter regarding indirect responsibility is the most severe in my opinion. The committee determined that the State of Israel, not just the government of Israel, or the Israel Defense Forces are responsible. The committee determined that not only did the possibility of the massacre exist, it was also known to the political and military echelons, and they chose willingly and knowingly to ignore it. 'That includes all of us, including you Mr. Prime Minister, each and every one of us. I cannot stress this enough -- knowingly ignored, all of us,' he continued to stress. Then came the warning: 'If we adopt this report, all our ill-wishers and naysayers will claim that what happened in the camp was genocide. Not to mention the fact that the committee itself didn't even seem to hesitate before drawing a line between Israel and its partners to the pogroms and the horrors Jews experienced. I personally refuse to accept even the slightest hint of such allegations. There are parts of the report which I believe we just cannot accept if we do no want this burden -- this mark of Cain -- to be imprinted onto our forehead for generations to come.' [...]"

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