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. Sharon’s bloody exploits eventually landed him in the position of Defense Minister in an Israeli government led by another Israeli war criminal, Menachem Begin. In the wake of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, a war that cost tens of thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese lives, a war designed and orchestrated by Sharon, an Israeli commission held Sharon responsible for the massacre of thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese at Sabra and Shatila. Sharon’s past atrocities are quite well documented, and can be readily found by searching State Department archives.
For a fuller accounting of the ‘The Crimes of Ariel Sharon’, read Alexander Cockburn’s article. But of all his murderous assaults against unarmed civilians, the Qibya massacre is the one that Sharon can never walk away from. Not to minimize Kerrey’s atrocity at Thanh Phong, but there was no “fog of war” alibi for Sharon at Qibya. His mission was to slaughter every villager and destroy the village.
These two atrocities, Qibya and Thanh Phong, are being treated quite differently by the New York Times and other mass media outlets. A full Sunday Magazine article was devoted to probing the allegations against ex-Senator Kerrey. Sulzberger’s crew collaborated with CBS ’60 minutes’ to ‘break’ the story to the American public. They went all the way to Vietnam, to the hamlet of Thanh Phong for eyewitness accounts from survivors. The advance publicity surrounding the release of the Kerrey story was akin to the release of a hot summer movie. It was a story that had gathered dust at the Washington Post and Newsweek for two years. When it finally hit the newsstands, it riveted the nation, for maybe a week. Then the story died. At the recent commencement at the New School; the New York Times reporter very delicately handled the subject of Thanh Phong. While some graduate students are organizing a ‘Dump Kerrey The Killer’ movement, and others refused to have him sign their diplomas, the vast majority have swallowed whole the ‘war crimes happen in the heat of battle’ argument. What these students should realize is that after the battle is over, when a soldier gets back to base, safe and sound, out of the fog, his actions in the field of battle are evaluated. Was he heroic or cowardly or useless? Did he contribute to the win or was he at fault for the loss? As an officer, did he take care of his men and meet the goals of the mission? Did he conduct himself as a soldier or did he go crazy and commit a war crime?
There is no shortage of documentation to assist in evaluating Kerrey’s performance in that distant Vietnamese hamlet, thirty years ago. A recent search on Google/Yahoo revealed that there are already 55,000 listing about ‘Thang Phong’. So, this is not likely to be a topic that disappears from Kerrey’s official biography, regardless of how much the ‘national’ press wants to put it back in the bottle. Enough Americans know about Kerrey’s atrocity to ban him from ever holding public office again. The amazing thing is that a similar search on Google/Yahoo ‘Qibya’ yielded less than 1000 entries, hardly any from the journalists who toil in the plantations of the mass media titans. Aside from the Alexander Cockburn article, the rest are ‘alternative’ news articles challenging the New York Times and the Washington Post to investigate Sharon’s savagery at Qibya and Sabra and Shatila.
So far, Sharon has been more fortunate than Kerrey. He doesn’t have just one charge pending against him, but a whole history of orchestrating mass murder. Yet, the ethnic partisans at the New York Times have spared no effort in consigning Qibya to ‘ancient history’. At Sulzberger’s rag, Qibya is a taboo subject and Sharon still gets “war hero” billing. This should come as no surprise. Sulzbeger’s minions have a history of ignoring war crimes attributable to Israeli leaders like Shamir and Begin. Indeed, it is hard to think of another country that has elected so many war criminals to the highest office in the land. It must be one of those quirky Israeli job qualifications
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. His work at Qibya was deliberately and callously calibrated to insure the highest possible number of casualties. He has himself acknowledged the ‘incident’ and would like to move on to the next batch of Palestinian villagers ready for slaughter.
So, considering the coverage given to Waldheim, Haider, Kerrey and Pinochet, how did the American mass media manage to ‘overlook ‘ Sharon’s indictable war crime? They can’t claim ignorance. Not with all the constant reminders from dozens of alternative news web-sites and letters from individual activists? The facts of the case are quite clear and the State Department has a standing recommendation to bring those responsible to justice. So, why is Sharon out and about killing more Palestinians with American supplied F16s and attack Helicopters? Well, because no reporter at the New York Times or the Washington Post would dare investigate a cow as sacred as an Israeli Prime Minister. Qibya is not part of the New York Times vocabulary. Now, if Sharon was Austrian or German or Polish or Chilean, he would already have been lynched right there on 43rd street by the Sulzberger gang. They can go after an American president for lying or indulging in sexual escapades. Sulzberger and his Publishing company are still boasting about how they were willing to go to court to publish the Pentagon Papers. This is a crowd of ‘journalists’ that whines incessantly about the ‘public’s right to know’ and free speech and make a daily show of ‘correcting’ the most insignificant detail from earlier editions.
So what would motivate them to bury a story as significant as Sharon’s war crime in Qibya? Why did they cover up Deir El Yassin for that other war criminal, Begin? Or Yitzhak Shamir’s responsibility for the assassination of UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte in Jerusalem in 1948? How about the fact that Rabin, in July 1948, as commander of the Harel Brigade, on the direct orders of Ben Gurion, expelled tens of thousands of Palestinians from the towns of Lydda and Ramle? To this day the policy at the Times is to deny that the Palestinians were forcibly exiled from their native lands. Indeed, through out the eight month Palestinian uprising, Sulzberger’s boys have not expressed the slightest concern about the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed or permanently disfigured by Israeli occupation army snipers. They consider Barak’s and Sharon’s response to the Palestinian uprising to be ‘restrained’. The vast majority of these casualties could have been avoided with the use of non-lethal force. How did the Canadian mounties manage to avoid inflicting a single fatality in the IMF demonstrations in Quebec City? The short answer to all these questions is that the New York Times coverage of the Middle East is all about demonstrating ethnic loyalty by ethnic journalists to their Eastern European Yiddish kin doing battle against the Palestinian natives. There is no other explanation. For all practical purposes, the New York Times is like an overseas chapter of the Likud party.
Now, I have shocking news for Sulzberger and company, The New York Times does not have the legal authority to pardon Sharon for Qibya. Neither does the United States government. Why go after Sharon now? Well, to set another example to the world on the consequences of committing a war crime. Justice can be sweet, even when delayed. It must have been very distressing for the Israeli leader to see his buddy Milosovic bite the dust. The fate of Pinochet must have bought tears to his eyes. War criminals need the security of seeing other war criminals on the loose; especially serial war criminals like Sharon. If you want to know how ex-Senator Kerrey told Sulzberger to put a lid on it, he must have said “Qibya” and flashed a ‘gotcha’ smile.
Qibya, if it ever gets reported by our ‘national’ press, can bring Sharon down in a month, if not a week. It will send a message to the lunatic fringe of Israeli politics that war criminals will be made to pay a steep price for acting out their ethnic supremacist fantasies. Hopefully, it will also encourage Israelis to investigate the darker corners of their belligerent history against the native people of the holy land. Serving Sharon a full portion of justice will sober up an Israeli military culture that believes that war crimes are an acceptable policy in dealing with the Palestinians. It will also be a clear victory over the power of a mass circulation ethnic paper and its racist publisher. An outfit like the New York Times publishing company needs to be held accountable for continuing to act as a public relations firm for a vicious repressive Israeli thug like Sharon.
Nailing Sharon for Qibya will help bring peace. It will be a healthy sign that Israelis are ready for reconciling themselves to dealing with five decades of state sponsored crimes against the Palestinian people. It will also bring closure for the families who were murdered in cold blood by an unrepentant serial war criminal.
Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of NileMedia.com in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN)