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Lessons from History      Sunday, July 7, 2001

The widely circulated Palestinian daily newspaper, Al Quds, reported, Saturday, July 7th, in its front page, EU and Sharon differ on the policies of military power he is using against the Palestinians. Another headline, Terry Larson: Several days are away from a military confrontation in ME. Another, Israeli Tanks bombard houses in Gaza. Sharon has just wrapped up a two-day visit to France and Germany in an attempt to consolidate EU approval for his long awaited military option.

But, Sharon came back almost empty-handed. Although that does not rule out the option of the use of force, or rather a total war against the Palestinians.

Recently, local Palestinian media has been busy specifically writing, commenting, reporting, drawing scenarios and evaluating this seemingly eminent option of Sharon.

Will history repeat itself in the coming weeks like Sharon's bombardment and invasion of Beirut in 1982?

As we know, Sharon bombarded Beirut in summer of 1982 to oust the 6000 Palestinian fighters. However, civilians paid the ultimate price. This time, summer 2001, Sharon is still at it. He plans to root out the PNA and Arafat again, this time, from the West Bank and Gaza. But, who will pay the price? Civilians again? What will be the human toll?

Since we're supposed to learn lessons from history, Can he (Sharon) be stopped? Some of the lessons are as follow:

According to the Sunday Times of August 8th, 1982, that two months following Israel invation of Beirut, F16s, Navy ships from the sea and heavy guns constantly were leveling whole buildings in the city. Every day of bombardment there were two hundred or three hundred civilians killed. Many burned to death by phosphorus bombs. Among the targets hit were 5 UN buildings, a hundred and thirty four embassies or diplomatic residences, six hospitals, the central Bank, five hotels, red cross, Lebanese and foreign media outlets and private homes. The Canadian Ambassador, Theodore Arcand, said (Sunday Times, 8 August 1982) that the destruction was so comprehensive it would make Berlin of 1945 look like a tea party.

The city of Beirut took on the heaviest bombardment on August 6, 1982, as the day became known as Hiroshima Day.

One writer put it, by calmly carrying on with daily routine, one could defy the onslaught and take hold of oneself. Sheer survival during a blitz assumes heroic proportions and a walk to the streets of the city that apocalyptic day, 6 August 1982, Hiroshima Day, becomes an odyssey.

Mahmoud Darwish, a prominent Palestinian poet went through the ordeal of summer 1982; the Israeli onslaught of Beirut.

In one of his poems, he vividly takes the reader straight to a scene into a twilight zone.

A vacuum bomb. It creates an immense emptiness that annihilates the base under the target, the resulting vacuum sucking the building down and turing it into a buried graveyard. No more, no less. And there, below, in the new realm, the form keeps its shape. The residents of the building keep their previous shapes and the varied forms of their final, choking, and gestures. There, below, under what a moment ago was under them, they turn into statues made of flesh with not enough life for a farewell. Thus he who was asleep is still sleeping. He who was carrying a coffee tray is still carrying it. He who was opening a window is still opening it. He who was sucking at his mother's breast is till suckling. And he who was on top of his wife is still on top of her. But he who happened to be standing on the roof of the building can now shake the dust off his clothes and walk into the street without using the elevator, for the building is now level with the ground, For that reason the birds have remained alive, perched in their cages on the roof.

Will Sharon be allowed to repeat it again?

Palestinians believe it is America who has the final word on Sharon. Only America can influence heedless Sharon because if he goes ahead with his war, he will be using American F16s, American bombs, American missiles, tanks, money, political cover, etc.

In one of the worst bombarded spots in the occupied territories, a Khan Younis camp refugee mother said after the demolition of her house, America. Why do you unleash you bulldog tearing our flesh into pieces? Do not we have children like you do? Do not you want freedom to our children like you wish for your own? America you are a bully. You are the most dangerous country in the world.



July 7th. 2001


Summer time in Jerusalem.
A photo taken in Wadi Jouz St. during a visit to Jerusalem, July 3rd.

Saladin Street in the great city of Jerusalem.
July 3rd, 2001

Smiles from Jerusalem.
Palestinian children love pictures taken of them.
July 3rd, Jerusalem

Children in front of a shop in Khan Younis town, Gaza Strip
July 4th, 2001

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