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Franklin Lamb
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How the Victory in Gaza can Bring Civil Rights to Palestinians in Lebanon
Franklin Lamb


Shatila Camp

Women Union
 The General Union of Palestinian women organized a celebration of the Gaza victory on November 22, 2012

The current festive celebrations in Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps reflect the intense euphoria being witnessed throughout Gaza and occupied Palestine, Arab and Muslim countries, as well as relief among people of good will globally.

This observer’s special friend from Shatila camp, Zeinab, (she refers to herself as ‘Miss International’ given all the Americans and foreigners we bring to meet her and her wonderful family) called last night and giggled, “This is wonderful! You must come! I and some of my friends were wearing black scarves in honor of Ashoura on our way to protest against the Israeli aggression in Gaza. Within half an hour after gathering at the Youth Center athletic field we heard the news of the ceasefire. Soon we were dancing and singing and celebrating.’!”

At about the same time, thirty miles south of Beirut in Ein el Helwe Refugee camp, Lebanon’s largest and most densely populated with nearly 90,000 people squeezed into less than two square kilometers, more sardine-canned than even Gaza city, the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW) also organized a celebration of Gaza’s victory.

Established nearly half a century ago in 1965 at the time of the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization, GUPW has consistently achieved much for Palestinian families regardless of location or fate. Like Zeinab’s manifestation, the GUPW’s demonstration against the Zionist aggression against Gaza became a joyful rally to celebrate Gaza’s victory, and soon refugees inside and on the outskirts of the camp were dancing and singing and raising Palestinian flags.

Tripoli Camp

Badawi refugee camp near Tripoli, Lebanon

As Lebanese journalist Mohammad Zaatari has pointed out, the women’s rally was originally scheduled to deplore the aggression against Gaza, however after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was reached the occasion turned into a celebration with refugees hoisting banners and flags from various PLO and resistant groups while calling for the solidarity and unity of Palestinian factions to confront the Zionist occupation of their country, Palestine. “Every grain of sand!” one university student shouted,
“We must liberate all of Palestine and recover every grain of sand! Jews are most welcomed to stay if they want to live in peace as equals under the law, but forget about colonization, democracy for Jews only and apartheid. They must disappear for sure!”

“We have won in Gaza and this is only the beginning,” beamed Amina Jibril, Director of the Palestinian Women Union in Lebanon.

Palestinian Women Union“We haven’t just won through rockets. The kids and women and civilians who were killed in the clashes were resisting every day because their mere presence in Gaza is an act of resistance itself.”

But when the cheering stops and the placards are discarded, the many joyful demonstrations throughout Lebanon subside; most of the participants will trundle back to their bleak abject existence in Lebanon’s camps worse off in many respects than Gazans.

It is true that in Lebanon, Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Druze regularly condemn Israel and consistently support the "liberation" of Palestine and breaking the siege of Gaza. But few there are who have historically supported expanding the rights or improving the dire living conditions of the more than quarter million refugees within Lebanese borders. As one Palestinian wryly noted, the Lebanese
"favor the liberation of Palestine and Gaza, but they oppose even the most basic civil rights for Palestinians in Lebanon.”

Yarmouk camp
Yarmouk camp - Syria

Without any help from the Lebanese government or the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have no choice but to depend on the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as their sole source of support and protection. Unfortunately, UNRWA has not proved up to the task due to the United States and Israel politicizing and interfering with international donor contributions. 

Most Palestinians in Lebanon who are cheering Gaza’s victory well into the night won’t have to be concerned about being late for work the next day because Lebanese law forbids Palestinians from working in dozens of jobs and professions. Today, according to UNRWA's own statistics, only about 53,000 of the approximately 130,000-strong Palestinian labor force are employed at all. Most who are have “illegal” low paying work are often ruthlessly exploited by employers who know their workers cannot complain to authorities or collect any work benefits. This is because in 1964, the Lebanese Ministry of Labor instituted a policy under Ministerial Decree No. 17561 whereby professions in Lebanon could be limited to Lebanese citizens. The regulations prohibited Palestinians from working in some seventy job categories.

In the camps of south Lebanon, Ein el Helwe, Mieh-Meih, al Buss and Rasheideyeh, and up north in the still unrestored Nahr al Bared camp, approximately 85 percent of all refugees live in "abject poverty.”

Among the states in which UNRWA operates, Lebanon has by far the highest number of "special-hardship cases," i.e., the poorest of the poor, some 30-35 percent of Palestinian refugees.

Ein El Helwe
 Ein El-Helwe

Nor will most the temporary celebrants of the victory in Gaza have classes to attend when the celebrations finish. As of 2008, the pass rate of Palestinian students in UNRWA classes was less than 50 percent—10 percent less than their Lebanese counterparts in state schools. This education deficit alone limits the opportunities of Palestinians in Lebanon.

UNRWA does operate seventy-four primary schools-- of which approximately 25 percent try to educate with larger classes, shorter hours and in double shifts—and in the process, provides employment to 2,785 residents and as of 2006, was the largest employer of legal, skilled Palestinian labor in Lebanon.

According to the recently published 2012 Human Rights Watch report on the conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon: 

“They continue to live in appalling social and economic conditions. 2011 saw no improvement in their access to the labor market, despite a labor law amendment in 2010 that was supposed to ease such access. The main reason was the government's failure to implement the amendment. Lebanese laws and decrees still bar Palestinians from working in at least 25 professions requiring syndicate membership, including law, medicine, and engineering. Palestinian refugees are still subject to a discriminatory law introduced in 2001 preventing them from owning property.”

All activists and others around the world celebrating the victory in Gaza must encourage Lebanon thru its local embassy’s and consults, their own governments, Iran and the Hezbollah led Resistance in Lebanon, as well as Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt to immediately use their power and prestige, enhanced by this month’s victory in Gaza to urge Parliament to repeal the racist 2001 law that forbids only Palestinians from owning a home in Lebanon.

They need to leverage the victory in Gaza to benefit Palestinians in Lebanon and assure that Parliament immediately grants Palestinians in Lebanon the same civil right to work as every other foreigner in Lebanon enjoys as does every refugee in every country in the world including Gaza. It can quickly be achieved by progressive forces that currently control Parliament using their political power to achieve these long overdue humanitarian requisites. 

Indeed, if these forces will generate the political will, no more than 90 minutes of Lebanon’s Parliamentary time will be required to truly make the victory in Gaza historic while at the same time lifting the shame off Lebanon for its massive violations of international and Lebanese laws by granting Palestinian refugees the most elementary civil right to work and to own a home. 

If achieved, history will forever record that it was the 2012 victory in Gaza that substantially liberated their fellow refugees in Lebanon by granting these elementary rights.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com

Source: Al-Manar Website

25-11-2012 - 17:21 Last updated 26-11-2012 - 14:31 | 22869 View
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User Comments Number of comments: 7
1 - Abbas
Alan | USA 01:25 2012-11-26
Abbas’ longtime collaboration with Israel. He sold out long ago for whatever benefits he derives. He’s
Israel’s enforcer. He ill serves and insults Palestinians. His presidency iillegitimate. Israel rigged
his 2005 election. In January 2009, his term expired.He’s still in office. At least for now, Washington
and Israel want him there. He’s more stooge than statesman. He’s a duplicitous puppet. He replicates
fascist Quisling Norway, Vichy France, and other Nazi-controlled collaborationist regimes. Instead of
serving his people, he betrayeHe subverts Palestine’s liberating struggle. Collaborating with the enemy
is treason. Abbas and likeminded Fatah officials are guilty on multiple counts
2 - Abas
Alan | USA 01:27 2012-11-26
What did he know and when about Pillar of Cloud? He knew about Cast Lead in advance. On November 30,
2010, Reuters headlined “Israel says Abbas, Egypt warned on Gaza war – leaks,” saying: Ahead of Cast
Lead, Israel “conferred with the Western-backed Palestinian leadership and with Egypt….” Leaked US
diplomatic cables quoted a senior Israeli official confirming it. Haaretz reported the same thing.
Mubarak and Abbas were briefed in advance.
3 - Abas
Alan | USA 01:27 2012-11-26
Haaretz said “Israel tried to coordinate the Gaza war with the Palestinian authority.” WikiLeaks released
US diplomatic cables confirming it. In June 2009, months before Cast Lead, Israeli Defense Minister Barak
met with US congressional members. He also “consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead,
asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas.”
4 - Abas
Alan | USA 01:29 2012-11-26
He also praised Shin Bet’s “very good working relationship” with Abbas at the time. His internal security
service collaborates with Israel. He understands that “Israel’s security is central to (his) survival in
the struggle with Hamas….” At the time, Fatah collaborated with Washington to oust Hamas. An abortive
coup failed. More information surfaced. WikiLeaks published a June 12, 2007 cable. It said Israeli
military intelligence head Amos Yadlin told US embassy officials that Hamas retaining power in Gaza was
advantageous.
5 - Abas
Alan | USA 01:30 2012-11-26
“Although not necessarily representing a GOI (government of Israel) consensus view,” said Yadlin, “Israel
would be ‘happy’ if Hamas took over Gaza because the IDF could then deal with Hamas as a hostile state.”
Israel’s imperial agenda needs manufactured enemies. Having them facilitates violence and instability.
They also help justify small and larger-scale wars. Like Pillar of Cloud, Cast Lead was planned months in
advance. Its aim was to advance Israel’s imperium.
6 - Abas
Alan | USA 01:31 2012-11-26
It involves controlling all valued parts of Judea and Samaria, depopulating much of Palestine, and
confining remaining population elements to canonized worthless scrubland. Both conflicts are more about
weakening Hamas than destroying it. They also involve waging war on civilian men, women, children,
infants and the elderly. Doing so is official Israeli policy in all conflicts. Israel considers all
Palestinians combatants or potential future ones. Perhaps Abbas and other Fatah officials knew about
Pillar of Cloud in advance. Maybe they approved or urged it. During eight terror bombing days, Abbas’
comments were delayed, weak, meaningless and insulting.
7 - syrian victory.???
frank chau | Philippines 09:20 2012-11-26
in every war, a spear and shield are needed for offense and defense, syrian army and airforce is always
on the offense, they forget the defense that the rebels are destroying their airforce bases and others
and looting the other weapons to be used against the regime forces, thats why hezbollah must
\\’quickly\\’ advice the syrian armies that half of their forces must guard all the other bases of
the other branches of the militaries (airforce, mass-destruction force, army, navy, coastal defense, air
defense bases

 

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