Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In Syria, a Deir Yassin every day

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon]

As if yesterday’s news of the killing of Lebanese cameraman Ali Shaaban by the Syrian army weren’t morbid enough, the day also marked the 64th anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre, perhaps the most infamous of the series of lurid rampages that comprised what Israeli historian Ilan Pappé has dubbed the “ethnic cleansing of Palestine” in 1948.

On that day, more than 100 Palestinian villagers, including women and children, died at the hands of Zionist militiamen (four of whom were also killed). News of the events spread rapidly to villages across the country, triggering a panic that led directly to the exodus of some 700,000 Palestinians into neighboring states, including Lebanon – often referred to as the nakba, or catastrophe.

As imperfect as such historical comparisons may be, I for one can’t help noticing that, in addition to Shaaban, more than 100 Syrians, including women and children, were also killed yesterday by the Assad regime. This came on the heels of a week that saw “at least 1,000” deaths, according to a Free Syria Army colonel; a number which, if correct, would put the average daily death toll for the week at 143; or in other words, a Deir Yassin every day. This is not to mention the almost 3,000 Syrians that fled to Turkey in a 36-hour period, bringing the total number of Syrian refugees in the country to over 24,000. Add to this the estimated 30,000 or so that have also fled to Jordan and Lebanon, and perhaps the comparison is not to be dismissed lightly.

The grotesque irony, of course, is that the perpetrator of these daily Deir Yassins claims to be the great champion of the Palestinian cause. It’s high time that his supporters – and there certainly seem to be plenty here in Lebanon – decide whether a Syrian life is the equal of a Palestinian life, and if so, why exactly they’re prepared to so chillingly emulate the Zionists of 1948 that they so hoarsely condemn.

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