Instead of another anodyne NY Times editorial today about Netanyahu injecting himself into our election campaign, the Times decided to take off its gloves. Netanyahu has clearly crossed its “red line” with his recent activities. It wasn’t so long ago that “A Preventable Massacre,” the op-ed by Seth Anziska on the 30th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, would have been too toxic to be “fit to print.”
Anziska sheds light on the U.S role in the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Recently declassified Israeli documents show that the
Israelis misled American diplomats about events in Beirut and bullied them into accepting the spurious claim that thousands of “terrorists” were in the camps. Most troubling, when the United States was in a position to exert strong diplomatic pressure on Israel that could have ended the atrocities, it failed to do so. As a result, Phalange militiamen were able to murder Palestinian civilians, whom America had pledged to protect just weeks earlier.
We see the familiar dynamic of Israeli leaders browbeating American diplomats while demanding their support. Of course this goes on while the Zionist maxim of
“when it comes to our security, we have never asked. We will never ask. When it comes to existence and security, it is our own responsibility and we will never give it to anybody to decide for us”
is repeated, by Ariel Sharon. By caving in to the Israeli bullying, the U.S. “effectively gave Israel cover to let the Phalange fighters remain in the camp.” So the U.S. was “unwittingly complicit in the tragedy of Sabra and Shatila.”
The Sabra and Shatila massacre severely undercut America’s influence in the Middle East, and its moral authority plummeted. In the aftermath of the massacre, the United States felt compelled by “guilt” to redeploy the Marines, who ended up without a clear mission, in the midst of a brutal civil war.
On Oct. 23, 1983, the Marine barracks in Beirut were bombed and 241 Marines were killed. The attack led to open warfare with Syrian-backed forces and, soon after, the rapid withdrawal of the Marines to their ships. As Mr. Lewis(Samuel Lewis ambassador to Israel) told me, America left Lebanon “with our tail between our legs.”
The archival record reveals the magnitude of a deception that undermined American efforts to avoid bloodshed. Working with only partial knowledge of the reality on the ground, the United States feebly yielded to false arguments and stalling tactics that allowed a massacre in progress to proceed.
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.
Is there a more appropriate time than now to reflect on the events of 30 years ago? Once again Israel is trying have the U.S. be complicit in its machinations and won’t take no for an answer. The decades-long campaign to attach the U.S. to the Israeli hip relentlessly goes on. The Times says enough is enough. When Netanyahu said yesterday on Meet the Press “you can understand why they [Iran] are so antagonistic to us because for them we are you and you are us” the Times responds, Yes exactly, that indeed is the problem.
This op-ed is a huge inflection point for the lobby. Its publication is a terrible blow, and I suspect the usual suspects will say nothing about it hoping it doesn’t get any attention. Because really, how does hasbara deal with it? It is devastating, and gives the lie to all the talking points about the “special relationship.”