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By Franklin Lamb

Part XI of a series on securing civil rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon


Misery & Hope


“Palestinian guests in Lebanon are working with total freedom. First of all we do not refer to them as “refugees”. They are our brothers who are suffering and in a very difficult situation that they did not cause and they have lost their country. They sought our help in Lebanon as brothers. You Americans really need to understand that in our Arab, Muslim, and Christian culture, you help your brother. You share with him your loaf of bread. You split it in half and give half to your brother. So out of this sacred tradition, out of the long history that binds us with our Palestinian  brothers we host them in Lebanon temporarily until they can go back to their country. But while they are here, of course Lebanon is living through a difficult situation ourselves but our Palestinian brothers are enjoying everything.”

Lebanese Member of Parliament on August 4th explaining why Parliament must not “precipitously rush into the unchartered waters of civil rights for Palestinian Refugees”.


Lebanon's Parliament


At 3:02 p.m. on 8/17/10 Lebanon’s Parliament began to deliberate on granting basic civil rights to its Palestinian refugees and within four minutes agreed to alter article 50 Lebanon’s 1964  labor law to theoretically make it easier for Palestinian refugees to obtain a work permit and a job.

There was no discussion of other draft bills to grant Palestinian refugees elementary civil rights, and fifteen minutes later, by 3:17 p.m. Parliament had agreed on the next  bill involving excavating for oil, which may bring millions to some well placed members.  Many MP’s hadn’t studied either bill.

Thus did the bell ring on Round One of the fight in Lebanon for elementary civil rights for Palestinians refugees.

The members of Parliament decided to do essentially nothing to meet Lebanon’s legal, moral, religious, social and political obligations to her unwanted refugees. Parliaments gesture will  likely not improve the lives of many, if even a handful, of the hundreds of thousands of refugees, 62 years after their expulsion from their homes and lands in Palestine.

Round Two begins today.

The morning after  Parliament  amended the Labor law and cancelled the work permit fee for Palestinian refugees, the main stream media including CNN, AP, Reuters, AFP among others appeared to misunderstand what had occurred.   CNN: “In Lebanon,  new legislation will give Palestinians full employment rights. By the CNN Wire Staff.”  CNN broadcast:  “The body OK’d legislation giving the refugees full employment rights and social security and will allow them to work in any job.”

Hardly.

The NYT is reported that “Lebanon passed a law on Tuesday granting Palestinian refugees here the same rights to work as other foreigners.”

Not accurate.

Some leading politicians also got it wrong.  Fares Soueid, the General Coordinator for the March 14 coalition declared at his news conference:

“We gave to Palestinians the right to work in Lebanon, like all Arabic workers have the right to work in Lebanon.”

A huge overstatement.

Unfortunately Lebanon did not grant its Palestinian refugees meaningful civil rights on 8/17/10 or even significantly improve their work prospects.  What it did do was cancel  the work permit fee ( which was never a big problem)  and allow for the setting up of a private Social Security Fund (not the Lebanese National Security Fund as misreported in much of the media.)  The Palestinian Private Fund was a compromise. Hezbollah switched its support from using the State Fund  which it had earlier proposed, to the Private Fund idea under pressure from  Christian ally Michel Aoun. If  the Private Fund is set up  it will be paid for by Palestinian workers themselves and hoped for private donations.

Insisting on a shadowy, opaque “consensus vote” rather than a more democratic, simple majority roll call, Parliament decided on the lowest common denominator by which all the MP’s were essentially given a veto.  What it produced  was a weak, emasculated bill unworthily of the label: Civil rights law.

MP Walid Jumblatt, author of his Druze Progressive Socialist Party June 15, 2010 draft bill, which would have actually granted some substantive civil rights, appeared to throw in the towel without even stepping into the ring.  However to his credit, Jumblatt confessed this morning that he will do better next Round and told  Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper:  “The second more serious  battle is ahead:  And it is  home ownership rights. I won’t give up, and what has been accomplished today is  only the outcome of consensus among everyone (ed: led by Samir Geagea)  but home ownership rights remains pending, and it is very important.”

The excellent Syrian Socialist National Party bill, which meets International legal standards for treatment of refugees,  supported by many human rights organizations including most NGO’s as well as  the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign-Lebanon and the Sabra Shatila Foundation was not even considered.

Within the Palestinian  and NGO community there is widespread disappointment and frustration. Ziad Sayegh, an expert on Palestinian refugee rights in Lebanon said that the new legislation  would have little effect in changing the overall social and economic situation on the refugees.

According to  scholar  Suheil al- Natour, Director of  a Palestinian Human Rights Center based in Mar Elias Camp, “They spent a long time on discussions which emptied the law of any real meaning, and I wish they had put it off so we could push for a better version…” Those who voted yesterday are suggesting that what they did will alleviate the burdens on the Palestinian community. This is not true. We will not have the full right to work, they law will not apply to the  more than 30 syndicated professions, we do not have any rights for property. We do not have free movement. Our camps are surrounded by the army. We will not reduce this catastrophic situation by  just some changes small changes to  Article 50 of the 1964 Labor law  which may not even help many Palestinians get jobs.”

Among the jobs still prohibited to Palestinians are  more than 30 syndicated professions  including Medicine, Law, Dentistry, Engineering, nursing, and all technical professions in the construction sector and its derivatives such as tiling, coating, plastering, installation of aluminum, iron, wood or decoration works and the like-Teaching at the elementary, intermediate and secondary levels with the exception of foreign language teacher when necessary, hairdressing, Ironing and dry-cleaning upholstery, publishing, printing, Engineering work in all specialties, Smithery and upholstery work. All kinds of work in pharmacies, drug warehouses and medical laboratories. In general all occupations and professions which can be filled by Lebanese nationals and have  Guild or Syndicate Memberships, money changer, real estate agent, taxi driver or driver training instructor, registered nurse or assistant nurse, or other jobs in the Medical field, that have Syndicates a health controller, any job in the engineering field, licensed health controller, medical laboratory worker, clinical health industry jobs, prosthetic devices fitter, certified accountants, dental laboratory science technician, jobs relating to nutrition and meals, topography, physiotherapy, veterinary medicine.”

Also, a key factor  will be if and how the new law is actually implemented.  Changes made in 2005 to the labor law were never implemented and Lebanon has a long history of passing laws and not ever implementing them. The role of the international human rights community is now to monitor and  assure that laws regarding refugees in Lebanon are fully implemented without interminable delays.


The winners and the losers

The big winners today are: Israel and the US, the Christian right-wing
Kateib (Phalange) party, the Lebanese Forces, the National Party, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, and Hezbollah ally and head  of the Free Patriotic Movement, Michel Aoun, all of whom opposed meaningful civil rights for Palestinians.  Also, the politically fractured pro-Saudi March 14th coalition and even Syria. The latter will  be the likely beneficiary  from any explosions inside the camps as the refugees exist in the pressure cooker camps and denied  the safety value of basic civil rights.

The big losers today are: Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, those under occupation in Palestine and those in the Diaspora. A meaningful victory would have given them some hope as their struggles  for Justice continue.

Also Lebanon, who will now face mounting international pressure to comply with her international legal obligations plus efforts to cut off US aid based on the requirements of the 1961 US Foreign Assistance Act regarding deprivation of civil rights, and for which purpose a lawsuit in being prepared in Washington DC.  In addition, he UN Human Rights Council may sanction Lebanon if it’s long overdue Universal Periodic Review (UPR)  of treatment of Palestinian refugee scheduled  to be discussed in Geneva in December is found wanting. Lebanon plans to tell the UN Human Rights Council that its record is ok now since it amended its exclusionary labor law which should now help Palestinians get jobs. One Lebanese official stated off the record that this was one of the main reasons Parliament did anything for the Palestinians on 8/17/10.  It remains to be seen how the Council views Lebanon’s meager accomplishment. Lebanon will also experience a mounting and intensifying internal civil rights movement and calls for BDS as international activists become more aware of the degradation in Lebanon’s camps and Lebanon refusing its international obligations and who will hopefully join the Palestinian civil rights movement. Plans to picket the Lebanese Embassy in Washington DC
until civil rights are granted to Palestinians refugees are underway.

Did Hezbollah doze?

Apart from its other current problems, Hezbollah, normally receiving widespread Palestinian support, is being asked by some in the camps what became of the role of the Islamic Resistance to the Zionist occupation of Palestine. One angry resident of Shatila camp criticized  the Resistance this morning  and explained:

In 1982 I saw the Israelis watching us from on top on their  military administrative building west of the camp and 200 meters away from Rue Sabra, as the slaughter was happening. In 2010 I can see the Resistance in their administrative building 200 meters to the East of the center of the camp and they can see us. When the wind shifts  from the sea they can smell the sewage in the camps alleys. Neither in 1982 or 2010 can it be claimed that observers looking down into the camps did not know about conditions inside Shatila. What kind of resistance is Hezbollah leading? Resistance to we Palestinians being allowed some basic civil rights?”


It was probably appropriate that Lebanese Forces leader MP Samir Geagea was the first to the microphones to claim victory after Parliament deliberated for a few minutes to deny Palestinian refugees any meaningful civil rights. Geagea welcomed the parliament’s approval of his proposed amendment to Article 50 of the 1964 Labor Code to “ grant work permits to Palestinian refugees.”

The amendment to the 1964 labor law was the least Parliament could have done and still be able to say it did anything at all. It will not, as Geagea assured his followers, “resolve the Palestinian humanitarian issues in Lebanon….” Geagea explained that there is no possibility of granting Palestinian refugees the right to own property. “Lebanon cannot solve the Palestinian issue on its own” the Palestinians nemesis for the past four decades declared.

In fact, Geagea spoke the truth without realizing it. Civil rights for refugees everywhere, including Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, is the responsibility of the international community which has adopted relevant international conventions which have been implemented virtually everywhere but in Lebanon and Israel. The international community, and the NGO’s and activists in the West and elsewhere who claim to support justice for Palestine must now act to encourage Lebanon to meet its international obligations by granting meaningful civil rights including the unfettered right to work and to own a home.

The mild gesture Lebanon made on 8/17/10 will not grant Palestinian refugees here their internationally mandated civil rights. Not by a long shot. Perhaps the most that can be said in Lebanon’s favor is that it took a  first tentative step.  Hopefully, symbolically it will break the stereotype against  Palestinians a bit and show the public that the sky did not fall in  by yesterday’s gesture and will ease the stress concerning granting some meaningful civil rights.

As the Lebanese like to say, “step by step.”

For the quarter million Palestinian refugees stuck in squalor in Lebanon’s 12 camps and the 75,000  in the 42  ‘gatherings’, the cause of civil rights in Lebanon endures and the dream of returning to Palestine is alive.

Franklin Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation, and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon and is doing research in Lebanon for his next book. He can be reached at fplamb@gmail.com For information and updates on the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign in Lebanon, and to sign the petition, go to: http://www.palestinecivilrightscampaign.org

FRANKLIN LAMB: Anyone really serious about allowing Palestinians their civil rights?



7 Comments

  1. Egoigwe on the 19. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    This write-up is as silly as it gets and is quite obviously a propaganda ‘hit’ to demonize Lebanon and deflect attention from what the proper focus ought to be; the right of return for these refugees to their God-given homeland!

    Lebanon is not the problem here but Israel which drove these Palestinians from their rightful homes and stole same. Look how quickly machinery is being put in place to pressure Lebanon into bearing a burden it does not have the socio-economic structure to support.

    The purpose to all of this is to degrade Lebanon and make it weak and vulnerable to external forces and encroachment. Palestinians are refugees in their own country, they live in concentration camps in a country that is their own! Their waters and the very air that they breathe are poisoned by Israel and they sleep on top of open sewers. Their kids are malnourished and exposed to all forms of cancer whereas they are denied access to proper medication and treatment, why doesn’t Frank Lamb see this?

    He gloats “… Lebanon, who will now face mounting international pressure to comply with her international legal obligations plus efforts to cut off US aid based on the requirements of the 1961 US Foreign Assistance Act regarding deprivation of civil rights, and for which purpose a lawsuit in being prepared in Washington DC. In addition, (t)he UN Human Rights Council may sanction Lebanon if it’s long overdue Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of treatment of Palestinian refugee scheduled to be discussed in Geneva in December is found wanting.”

    Hypocrites all!

    Israel created this mess for the Palestinians and the world, by stealing their homeland in broad daylight, where was the UN? It was an accomplice to this act! Where was the US of A? It was busy supplying funds and materials for the construction of settlements and for the complete eviction of a people from their own land! Why should this now become a Lebanese problem?

    How does granting Palestinians space on the Lebanese home soil become a crime? America, which contributed in no small measure to the longevity of this appalling and inhumane situation, rarely ever grants Palestinians visas into its own homeland unless there is some value attached to it. The criminals are the Israelis who denied these Palestinians their right of abode in the first instance and America that ensures the preservation of this despicable condition!

    People who talk and write like this can be nothing but Israeli shills and megaphones, intent on diverting debate of the right of return for these Palestinians to other shores. They intend to obscure Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians on their own homeland while demonizing Lebanon for that which is not even a crime but hard choices made.

    If there is anything to be said, it should be said to the Israelis-GIVE PALESTINE BACK!!!

  2. Debbie on the 19. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    Egoigwe, Bingo!

    Amen.

  3. Ned on the 20. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    Egoigwe, what a load of crap you spout. And you, Debbie, following in his footsteps.

    Please explain to me why a Palestinian cannot be involved in any of the following:

    Among the jobs still prohibited to Palestinians are more than 30 syndicated professions including Medicine, Law, Dentistry, Engineering, nursing, and all technical professions in the construction sector and its derivatives such as tiling, coating, plastering, installation of aluminum, iron, wood or decoration works and the like-Teaching at the elementary, intermediate and secondary levels with the exception of foreign language teacher when necessary, hairdressing, Ironing and dry-cleaning upholstery, publishing, printing, Engineering work in all specialties, Smithery and upholstery work. All kinds of work in pharmacies, drug warehouses and medical laboratories. In general all occupations and professions which can be filled by Lebanese nationals and have Guild or Syndicate Memberships, money changer, real estate agent, taxi driver or driver training instructor, registered nurse or assistant nurse, or other jobs in the Medical field, that have Syndicates a health controller, any job in the engineering field, licensed health controller, medical laboratory worker, clinical health industry jobs, prosthetic devices fitter, certified accountants, dental laboratory science technician, jobs relating to nutrition and meals, topography, physiotherapy, veterinary medicine.” How would a Palestinian in any one of these jobs constitute a threat to Lebanon? Yes, the US and Israel are primarily responsible for the plight of the Palestinians, but should we not try to help them build decent lives? Are you both so insensitive and blinded by your perception of Palestinians? Have you forgotten how we Lebanese were humiliated wherever we went during our civil war? God forbid that you should have to become like the Palestinians.

    Me. Lamb: ignore those morons and continue writing the truth about the situation in the Middle East, especially as regrads Palestinians!

  4. Debbie on the 20. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    I once again thank Egoigwe, for saying it exactly like it is.

    I understand Lamb’s frustration, and do empathize with the Palestinians, but one must also understand the frustration of the neighboring States into which Israel and the US drive millions of refugees of their expansionist wars. Don’t forget, Israel assisted by the US and the UN only recently smashed to smithereens the infrastructure of Lebanon. For an American to then, lecture Lebanon for not resolving the rights issues of millions as per “his” demands is ridiculous.

    And Btw, there is no one who has supported Lamb in this crusade as I have helped him push that cart.

    I too am disappointed with the results, but Lamb is being too harsh on Lebanon, he should direct his anger and frustration where it belongs.

  5. Egoigwe on the 21. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    Ned, you miss the point completely which Debbie has so eloquently espoused in so few words. I sympathize with the Palestinians but having been a refugee myself, I do know nothing compares to the loss of one’s home and homeland.

    Nothing, not even death!

    You took your eyes off the ball. The crime here is not what the Lebanese think is appropriate or not but what Israel has done to a peace loving people who even offered to share space with them on THEIR own homeland! The injustices meted out to the Palestinians by banishing them from their homeland and depriving them of basic human rights that the rest of our world take for granted are simply callous and inhumane! That is the issue here!

    When you absorb Palestinians into the Lebanese social fabric what do you do in effect, where does this lead? It leads to greater anguish and a heightened sense of despondency. It mutes the campaign to see them home and emboldens Israel in its atrocious quests. It creates a new generation of Palestinian-Lebanese who will more sooner than later forget about the injustices done to them and the struggle to return home. But most importantly, it creates a diabolical precedence that says it’s okay for any group of people to overrun the sovereignty of another and evict them therefrom.

    I did mention that Lebanon does not have the socio-economic structure to support what would no doubt lead to a massive influx of Palestinians into its territory, that holds. Such an influx and competition for the few available jobs would in turn lead to cheap labor and a reduction in Lebanon’s standard of living. Lebanese would be out of jobs and unemployment would soar. And why? Because we would rather turn a blind eye to Israel’s folly and contemptible actions?

    Can you not see that it does not augur well for the Palestinians, Lebanon or the world for that matter, if Israel is given a get-out-of-jail-free pass? Can you not see that by advocating that which you do, you unwittingly vote to deprive the Palestinians of their collective birthright? Come aboard and join the rest of the world in saying to Israel-GIVE PALESTINE BACK!!!

  6. Jennifer on the 22. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    My dears,
    The “proper focus” is wherever there is injustice. And yes, Lebanon is a big part of the current problem of her refugees in the Palestinian camps and the solution to Lebanon’s abuses of internationally protected refugees lies in Lebanon. Just think for a moment.
    We all know the role of the Zionists and their 80 years of crimes against the Palestinians whose lands they stole and people they ethnically cleansed as well as their continuing crimes against humanity.
    But you cannot rationally blame Israel for Lebanon’s failures to comply with international norms. A “They do it so we can do it” attitude is one reason Lebanon is where it is today. Lebanon can do better. You ladies ignore the continuation of the Nakba in Lebanon and wring your hands is frustration because of Israeli crimes and appear to excuse abusing refugees because the Zionists have not yet been held to account. This do nothing approach does not help the Palestinians suffering in Lebanon right now. Lebanon also has responsibility for depriving her Refugees of basis civil rights as does every other country. Unfortunately Lebnaon is second only to Israel in its treatment of Palestinians. Israel claims is flooding the Internet with claims that “Lebanon is worse than us!”. You seem to excuse Lebanon with “Israel is worse than us!”
    And the international community does have a responsibility to encourage Lebanon to stop doing Israel’s work by degrading her refugees. The views you express are the same old thesis advanced in Lebanon since the 1950’s by the extreme right wing Palestinian hating elements. Straight out of the Lebanese Forces playbook to be precise.
    Not only does Lebanon have the “socio-economic structure to support” basic civil rights as mandated by common decency, its claimed religious tenets and international standards of treatment for Refugees, Lebanon will be the beneficiary socially and economically according to UN, NGO and Lebanese authored studies.
    Sometimes people are inclined to blame others to excuse their own failure to act with basic humanitarianism. Many in Lebanon admit this “Lebanese proclivity” and are beginning to shed some prejudices against not just the Palestinians, but their fellow Lebanese confessions.
    Don’t think the Pedestrians only “live in concentration camps in a country that is their own! Their waters and the very air that they breathe are poisoned by Israel and they sleep on top of open sewers. Their kids are malnourished and exposed to all forms of cancer whereas they are denied access to proper medication and treatment”. It’s the same in Lebanon ladies and that is why many Lebanese seek to end this situation. Claiming that its almost as bad in occupied Palestine misses the whole point.
    True and enlightened friends of Lebanon are working with Lebanese civil society and its “government” to lift the pall that has hung over Lebanon since the civil war. They seek self respect and reject the shallowness and ignorance you insist on screaming. Granting legally mandated basic civil rights is not a “hit” to demonize Lebanon but rather an assist in meeting her obligations that will elevate Lebanon in the eyes of the World and its own society which is not proud of its human rights record toward not only the Palestinian refugees but their foreign workers. (google HRW-domestic workers in Lebanon)
    Blaming others i.e. the UN, USA, Europe, regional powers , those committed to justice for Palestine etc. may be interesting in part but it does not change the fact of Lebanon’s six decades of failure to act humanly toward her brothers and sisters. Granting these most basic rights will benefit Lebanon will assist in the Right of Return.
    The Essence of True Humanity is Compassion. Now get out there and do something positive for your neighbor today and don’t read into Lamb’s article what is not there.
    Instead, read his comment that follows which I just received and realize that Lebanon has a lot of work to do and they will benefit from facing their shortcomings and blaming everything on the Zionist thieves of Palestine and ignoring Lebanon’s own role and responsibility is frankly, silly.
    “Some (Coral Beach, for example) won’t even let Palestinian camp kids from shatila, burj, and mar elias in if someone pays for them as part of an excursion!!

    There is a lot of work to be done in this place regarding civil rights for a whole lot of people! HRW, to its credit has been highlighting the domestic workers scandal the past few years.

    Still no maids (or Palestinian camp kids) in the pool

    When two Lebanese customers and their maid tried to enter the Sporting Club Swimming Center in Ras Beirut last month, they were greeted by a disheartening response. “I do not allow maids in,” said a man at the entrance. Though unwelcomed, the reception was not unexpected, as discriminatory practices are quiet common in many local institutions. To educate the public about racist and classist policies in action, IndyACT’s Anti-Racism Movement recorded the Sporting rejection on a video that quickly went viral in the Lebanese blogosphere and beyond. Many other activist organizations are also taking a stand on this issue. Hibr Journalists, a citizen media outlet, called 36 beach resorts in Lebanon last week and asked about their policies regarding domestic workers. The organization found that three of the 36 resorts forbid access completely to domestic workers, while 14 allow them inside but forbid them from using the pools. Five resorts allow them inside but won’t let them swim at all, even in the sea. Fourteen of the 36 beach clubs give full access to domestic workers and allow them to swim in both the pools and the sea. Though nonprofits and journalists have shown a spotlight on a number of local businesses, the increased attention has yet to change any policies. In fact, Sporting Club’s public relations manager defended the establishment in a statement following the release of the IndyACT tape. “The Sporting Club swimming Center has a standing policy of not allowing in ANY maids, nannys, escorts, body guards, [or] personal assistants,” Waleed Abu Nasser wrote in an online letter that stirred the blogosphere. He did not provide a reason for the rule. Spokespeople for other resorts explained. “We hire people to take care of the kids who come to our resort,” said Rita Faddoul of the Riviera Beach Hotel and Resort, one of the three destinations that forbid access to domestic workers. “Our pool is so packed that the workers would just be sitting there in their clothes.” Faddoul said that domestic workers could maybe be admitted if they came on their free time and not with their employers and if we did not know they were domestics. But she thought this unlikely since they could probably not afford the price of admission – 40,000 LL on weekends – noting that domestic workers, would also have to “look decent.”

    A manager of Achrafieh’s Les Creneaux, which also forbids entry to domestic workers, gave his reason for the policy but not his name. “We don’t have space in our club for domestic helpers,” he said. “I mean, domestic workers—will they participate in the gym activities?” Unlike the Sporting Club, Riviera Beach Resort and Les Creneaux, 19 of the 36 questioned resorts allow domestic workers entry, but either forbid them from swimming, or only allow them to swim in the sea. Some resort managers say they are simply appealing to their clientele, made up of mostly Lebanese or tourists from the Gulf countries. “Hotels and resorts are based on meeting and exceeding the expectations of our clientele,” said Rana Younes, marketing manager of the Coral Beach Hotel and Resort in Jnah. “Our guests are mainly from the GCC countries and get bothered from the presence of foreign domestic workers with them in the swimming pool. Thus, we have to respect that, as guests always come first at hotels.” Abbas Talhini of Al Jisr beach resort in Damour, which forbids workers from using the pool, gave a similar response. “I personally recognize that this is racism and this is wrong, but we are catering to society,” he said. Several beach resort managers NOW Lebanon contacted avoided giving a reason for their policies. A manager at Samar Beach in Maameltein hung up the phone when NOW Lebanon inquired about their policy. Other resorts never returned NOW’s calls. “How would a Lebanese person feel if they go abroad and they are denied entry into a club or beach because the owner or bouncer happens to not like Arabs, or Lebanese?” Nadim Houry, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch Beirut, said. “I’m sure all Lebanese would hate that.” Houry and other human rights activists argue that catering to customers’ tastes is not reason enough to enforce what they say are racist and classicist policies. “When a client’s position goes against basic human rights and fundamental decency, institutions, be they public or private, have an obligation to counter these desires,” he said. “Otherwise, all societies would be catering to the whims of racists.” “[The managers] say people are not comfortable with domestic workers swimming. Well, make them comfortable with it,” Houry said. But institutions have no legal obligations when it comes to admitting or denying guests, or putting restrictions on who can swim. With the lack of a national anti-discrimination law, beach resorts and clubs can, and do, legally turn people down at the door as they please.
    Think friends: “The proper focus is wherever there is injustice.” Salamat.

  7. Egoigwe on the 23. Aug, 2010 remarked #

    Dear Jenny,

    I completely understand your good intentions and can live with it but sadly, things are a lot more complicated than you make them sound. It is not the place of the UN or the NGOs to tell Lebanon how to run its internal affairs, they simply cannot be seen to run a parallel government to that which has been lawfully installed by its people. Decisions are made by governments based on acute considerations and possibilities and may not always be popular but realistic. I still maintain that Lebanon does not have the socio-economic structure to bear the burden that is being placed upon its national shoulders.

    You ask ““How would a Lebanese person feel if they go abroad and they are denied entry into a club or beach because the owner or bouncer happens to not like Arabs, or Lebanese?” Nadim Houry, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch Beirut, said “I’m sure all Lebanese would hate that.” True, now I ask you, how would the Lebanese feel if the Palestinians were armed by Israel and the US to chase them out of their own country after having assimilated them into their homeland? It won’t happen you say? Well, it’s worth considering.

    Lebanon has been systematically decimated through the years by a string of wars that has left it near-desolate over the years and is only just recouping from those events. What is sauce for the gander ought to be sauce for the goose. Why are people so comfortable with screaming about Lebanon’s so-called human rights violations and yet, turn a blind eye to the originating source of all these problems? If we are really desirous of capping that leaking well then we will have to go to the source and plug it! Issues that pertain to Palestinian refugees, the world over, began with Israel’s unlawful conduct and continues till this very day because of it. If Israel did not expel the Palestinians from their lawful homes in the first instance, this problem which confronts us would not exist. It is not okay to say “Well, okay Israel has gone and done it but Lebanon must pay the price!” That is not true justice, what is, is for Israel to clean up its own mess and get its act together!

    It isn’t about “Israel is worse than us”, there is no basis for such comparisons, rather it is about what Israel has done and continues to do. It is about setting conditions that excuse their several atrocities on the Palestinian people and turning a blind eye to same.

    “Granting legally mandated basic civil rights is not a “hit” to demonize Lebanon but rather an assist in meeting her obligations that will elevate Lebanon in the eyes of the World and its own society which is not proud of its human rights record toward not only the Palestinian refugees but their foreign workers.”

    What obligations and to who? We must not speak in a vacuum, there are no obligations impose on Lebanon here except those of good neighborliness and tasks it can perform within its given limits. The presence or absence of legally mandated basic civil rights cannot be by Lebanon’s doing. It is Israel that imposed those conditions on the Palestinians by driving them to other shores in the first place.

    Questions of elevating Lebanon in the eyes of the world and its society does not arise here because it is in no manner or form diminished. The question is, how does Lebanon throwing its borders open to the Palestinians help in curtailing Israel’s abusive and atrocious conducts towards them? It doesn’t! What it does is to put a grin on that Zionist face and to embolden same to continue with its nefarious activities. In other words, we unwittingly create conditions that grow this situation and inflame it.

    Yes, indeed, the essence of true humanity is compassion and where would our humanity and compassion lie if we continue to pursue policies and trends that serve only to keep the Palestinians away from their rightful place and home? No matter the benevolence Lebanon puts on the table, Palestinians will never get to call Lebanon home because it isn’t!

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