Archive for the ‘Lebanon’ Category

Sabra and Shatila: 30 Years On

Posted: September 17, 2012 by Rex Brynen in Lebanon

This week represents the 30th anniversary of the massacre of over eight hundred Palestinian refugees by Lebanese Christian militias in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut on 16-18 September 1982. This followed the occupation of West Beirut by the Israeli army the previous day, and an Israeli decision to have the militiamen enter the camps.

The Jerusalem Fund/Palestine Center has provided a useful set of links to commemorative articles, which I’ve reproduced below.

The 1982 Lebanon War, and the Sabra-Shatila massacre in particular, were turning points in my own academic career. I was an undergraduate at the time, with a primary interest in South African politics and military-security issues. As a consequence of events in Lebanon, I shifted my research interests, writing my BA Honours thesis on the 1982 war, and my MA and PhD theses on the PLO in Lebanon. I have been working on Palestinian refugee issues (and Lebanese-Palestinian relations) ever since.

Sadly, the refugees of Lebanon—and Palestinian refugees more generally—seem no closer to a resolution of their plight now than they were 30 years ago. Indeed, in Syria, they today find themselves in the midst of yet another brutal war.

* * *

A Preventable Massacre by Seth Anziska (The New York Times)

On the night of Sept. 16, 1982, the Israeli military allowed a right-wing Lebanese militia to enter two Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut. In the ensuing three-day rampage, the militia, linked to the Maronite Christian Phalange Party, raped, killed and dismembered at least 800 civilians, while Israeli flares illuminated the camp’s narrow and darkened alleyways.

The forgotten massacre by Robert Fisk (The Independent)

The memories remain, of course. The man who lost his family in an earlier massacre, only to watch the young men of Chatila lined up after the new killings and marched off to death. But, like the muck piled on the garbage tip amid the concrete hovels, the stench of injustice still pervades the camps where 1,700 Palestinians were butchered 30 years ago next week.

Sabra and Shatila: Thirty Years On by Hassan Kheite (Al-Akhbar)

On the 30th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in which hundreds of defenseless Palestinian refugees were slaughtered by Lebanese right-wing militias under the cover of the Israeli military, Al-Akhbar publishes an account of the events by a Palestinian survivor who was a young boy when he witnessed the killings.

Gaza Hospital: Beirut (

Overlooking the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, Beirut’s ‘Gaza Hospital’ witnessed the Lebanese civil war and the Israeli invasion first hand. Most notably the hospital and its staff dealt with the bloody impact of the 72-hour massacre that took place there in 1982. (promo below)

Sabra and Shatila: Escaping Justice (Al-Akhbar)

Today marks the 30 year anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, in which hundreds of defenseless Palestinian refugees were slaughtered by Lebanese right-wing militias under the cover of the Israeli military. Below are profiles of the main culprits responsible for the killings.

The Massacre at Sabra and Shatila, Thirty Years Later by Sonja Karkar (Counter Punch)

It happened thirty years ago, 16 September 1982. A massacre so awful that people who know about it cannot forget it. The photos are gruesome reminders, charred, decapitated, indecently violated corpses, the smell of rotting flesh, still as foul to those who remember it as when they were recoiling from it all those years ago.

Remembering Sabra & Shatila: The death of their world by Amira Howeidy (Al Ahram Online)

The images only resurface in our collective memory when the almost unbelievable footage is aired on TV screens. Sun-bloated corpses, some mutilated, others too dark or disfigured to know that they were human, are covered with flies.

Sabra and Shatila: A somber anniversary (Just World Books)

September 2012 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the massacres that Lebanese Phalangist militia units, working with full, round-the-clock operational support of the Israeli military, committed against unarmed Palestinians in the two refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, in West Beirut. The killing started on Thursday, September 16 and continued for around 42 hours.

For Shatila survivors, pain lives on by Martin Armstrong (The Daily Star)

At the start of the massacre, residents had no idea what was happening. “When flares were fired in the sky we just thought it was some form of military operation. We werent thinking massacre,” Aziza Khalidi recalls.

A letter to the IDF soldiers at Sabra and Shatila by Ellen Siegel (+972 )

On the 30th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, a Jewish American nurse who provided humanitarian aid in a Beirut hospital recalls her first encounter with IDF soldiers. Today, she asks them to take a few moments during the Jewish New Year to remember.


AJE: Palestinian refugees escape Syria violence

Posted: August 29, 2012 by Rex Brynen in Lebanon, Syria, UNRWA

al-Jazeera English features a report (26 August 2012) on the situation of Palestinian refugees in Syria who have fled to neighbouring Lebanon:

The UN Relief and Works Agency has said there are around 500,000 Palestinians living in Syria, many of whom fled their homeland due to the decades-old territorial dispute with Israel. The UN says 1,000 Palestinians left their homes in Syria in July, and that number has risen now to 3,000 as fighting intensifies in the capital. Many Palestinians caught in the Syrian crossfire are fleeing across the border to Lebanon, a country already home to more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees where the newcomers feel unwelcome. Al Jazeera’s James Bays reports from Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

While the piece highlights the very real challenge facing Palestinian refugees trying to flee Syria to Lebanon (or, for that matter, to Jordan), it does a very poor job of contextualizing matters. While I have been a  very strident critic of Lebanese government policy towards Palestinians—and, indeed, towards refugees more generally—it seems pointless to an air a report that offers no insight into Lebanese policy or attitudes, including the widespread fear of permanent Palestinian settlement. Similarly, UNRWA’s position is poorly, inadequately, and inaccurately explained.

A World Not Ours

Posted: August 15, 2012 by Rex Brynen in Lebanon

A World Not Ours, a new film on Palestinian refugees in Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp by filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel, will be screened at this month’s Toronto International Film Festival:

Imbued with nostalgia and striking a wide range of emotional notes, filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel travels to the Lebanese refugee camp of Ain El Helweh to explore how the camp’s displaced people use the World Cup series to articulate their own ideas of home, community, victory and hope.

Crisis Group: Lebanon’s Palestinian Dilemma

Posted: March 1, 2012 by Rex Brynen in Lebanon, UNRWA

The International Crisis Group has issued an excellent new report on Lebanon’s Palestinian Dilemma: The Struggle Over Nahr al-Bared. The report highlights the shortcomings and challenges of rebuilding Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in north Lebanon, which was largely destroyed by fighting between the Lebanese Army and the radical armed Islamist group Fateh al-Islam in the summer of 2007:


2012 marks the fifth anniversary of one of Lebanon’s bloodiest battles since the end of the civil war: the deadly, three-month war pitting a jihadi group against the army in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp. Since then, the camp’s displaced and resident population has suffered from slow reconstruction of their residences, a heavy security presence that restricts their movement and livelihood as well as the absence of a legitimate Palestinian body to represent their interests. Today, there are bigger and more urgent fish to fry, none more so than dealing with the ripple effects of Syria’s raging internal conflict on inter-sectarian relations in Lebanon and the risk that the country once again could plunge into civil war. But it would be wrong to toss the refugee camp question aside, for here too resides a potential future flare-up.

In Lebanon, attention typically shifts seamlessly from one crisis to another. What may look like a sign of stability should be a source of concern. It is the manifestation of a political system almost entirely focused on managing symptoms of conflict without genuinely tackling their causes. Instead, the state, refugee population and UN agency should work together to speed up the reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared by freeing up as much land as possible for residential use; minimising the presence of Lebanese security forces in the camp; removing discriminatory laws in the camps; and introducing a Palestinian body to represent the refugees’ interests in decision-making.

The conflict that erupted in May 2007 brought face-to-face the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and a previously unknown Islamist fundamentalist group, Fatah al-Islam, based inside Nahr al-Bared. A bank robbery swiftly snowballed into an armed confrontation against the militants who killed several soldiers at an LAF checkpoint on the camp’s perimeter. Backed by a public incensed by pictures of the soldiers’ corpses, the army entered the camp, from which state security forces traditionally had been barred since 1969. Lebanese forces prevailed, but in the process much of the camp was devastated and 27,000 residents were displaced.

From all this destruction and loss, something good was supposed to come out: a model of coexistence between the state and Palestinian camps. The government appears to have taken the task seriously, developing a new vision, the so-called Vienna Document. It has yet to live up to expectations.

Camp reconstruction, led by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and funded by international donors, has lagged. Responsibility for this falls on inefficient contractors and a tug-of-war between on the one hand the army and the Internal Security Forces (ISF), which want more space in the camp and, on the other, UNRWA, which needs more land to build residential buildings. Living conditions likewise are unsatisfactory. The LAF has imposed a strict permit system that restricts access to the camp by both Lebanese and non-resident Palestinians, isolating Nahr al-Bared economically and socially. Because the ISF gradually is expanding its presence in the camp, the refugees fear that the discriminatory employment and property laws they face in Lebanon will be imposed for the first time in a camp, thereby severely affecting their livelihood. The Vienna Document does not allocate a meaningful governance role to Palestinian entities, thus marginalising the local population when it comes to key decisions regarding camp management and security.

The Palestinian refugees – and Lebanon – deserve better. The typical model of camp governance has serious flaws and is in need of repair. Power traditionally lies in the hands of Popular Committees comprising unelected faction leaders who derive most of their legitimacy from their weapons. With state security forces essentially banned from interfering, residents often complain of chaos and inter-factional strife in large, armed, and unregulated pockets immune to Lebanese law and order. Nahr al-Bared offered a real opportunity to build something different insofar as faction leaders had lost out – because they no longer possessed weapons and because they no longer enjoyed the trust of refugees who largely blamed them for failing to protect the camp.

But the new model that is taking form is not the answer. It is failing the basic task of restoring refugees to a normal life – at least as normal a life as refugeehood can allow. The relationship between camp residents and the state has not improved; rather, given the overwhelming security presence, refugees tend to see the authorities in the least appealing light: not protecting them, but rather protecting the country from them. They fear enforcement of discriminatory laws. Rigid permit requirements and rough treatment at camp checkpoints hurt intercommunal relations, already significantly damaged by the conflict which many Lebanese blamed on Palestinian refugees for harbouring jihadi militants and during which some Palestinians felt their Lebanese neighbours had been either complicit in their displacement or unwelcoming in the crisis’s aftermath. Most importantly, lacking an effective representative, Palestinians in Nahr al-Bared feel more disenfranchised than before.

There is still time to get things right. Should that be the case, the experience of Nahr al-Bared – after all the death and destruction it has endured – could help put relations between Palestinian refugees on the one hand, and the Lebanese and their state on the other, on firmer and sounder footing.


To the Lebanese Parliament and Government:

1.  Host a new donors conference to mark the state’s commitment to rebuild Nahr al-Bared.

2.  Present an updated plan for the camp that clearly delineates the roles and responsibilities of each actor, including:

a) Creating a formally recognised governing role for a reformed Palestinian popular committee in Nahr al-Bared;

b) Defining and circumscribing the army’s decision-making powers in the camp; and

c) Ensuring UNRWA has adequate decision-making power with respect to camp reconstruction.

3.  Legalise Palestinian rights to employment, property and assembly inside the camps to formally protect Palestinian civil rights.

4.  Revive and strengthen the role of the Lebanese-Pal estinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC) in all camps, especially Nahr al-Bared, in order to give the state a civilian face, and task it with producing recommendations on the government’s and security forces’ roles in the camps.

5.  Increase the number of town hall meetings that include Palestinian representatives and Lebanese residents from surrounding areas in order to improve relations between the two communities.

To the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF):

6.  Relax permit restrictions to increase the social and economic integration of the camp with the surrounding areas by:

a) Ensuring orderly conduct of security forces at checkpoints, especially regarding women, elderly and children; and

b) Establishing a clear, simple and uniform process for obtaining a permit until abolishing the permit system becomes possible.

7.  Limit LAF presence to the perimeters of the camp and coordinate security matters with the Internal Security Forces and the Palestinian popular committees inside the camp.

8.  Reconsider plans to establish a permanent LAF regiment and a naval base inside the camp, both of which undermine the camp’s civilian nature.

To the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF):

9.  Forgo plans to build a police station inside the old camp, which would disturb the reconstruction process; instead gradually deploy ISF officers from their base in the new camp to the old camp.

10.  Clarify the meaning of community policing to camp residents and ban practice of using camp residents as informants.

To the Palestinian Factions:

11.  Empower the popular committees by ensuring their representatives are elected and opening the elections to all adult members of society; in the meantime, develop a list of criteria according to which popular committee members should be appointed.

12.  Create a single representative Palestinian body that includes all factions to serve as a unified interlocutor for the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee.

13.  Ban the ostensible display of weapons in all camps, especially Ain al-Helweh; in Ain al-Helweh coordinate with the army outside the camp to prevent and punish acts of violence.


14.  Promote the establishment of a non-governmental organisation, independent of the factions and other political individuals, to bolster the effectiveness of consultations between camp residents and UNRWA architects.

15.  Fulfil fundraising commitments to speed up the reconstruction process in Nahr al-Bared and improve living conditions in areas where displaced Nahr al-Bared refugees are living.

Beirut/Brussels, 1 March 2012

The full report can be downloaded from the link above.

CEPAL Winter 2012 newsletter

Posted: February 27, 2012 by Rex Brynen in Lebanon

CEPAL—the Canadian Palestinian Educational Exchange—has just published their Winter 2012 newsletter, with information on their continuing volunteer program. CEPAL works  to assist Palestinian refugees in Lebanon by:

  • Providing English language training in refugee camps to help Palestinian children and youth pass elementary and secondary school requirements
  • Promoting  a love of learning and confidence among Palestinian children and youth through active learning
  • Creating opportunities for Canadians to learn more about the plight of refugees in Lebanon through awareness raising activities in Canada

You’ll find the newsletter here. I know a number of students who have participated in the CEPAL volunteer program over the years, and they have all found it deeply rewarding.

Hilal, Ayalon, and Palestinians in Lebanon

Posted: February 22, 2012 by Rex Brynen in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, UNRWA

One PRRN blog reader sent in some thoughts regarding Palestinians in Lebanon, in the context of Leila Hilal’s recent critique in The Atlantic of the Ayalon video on the Palestinian refugee issue. I post them below anonymously and in their entirety:

* * *

Leila Hilal has written an excellent response to Danny Ayalon on the issue of Palestinian refugees.  I do wish, however, she had not used this mantra:

Refugees in Syria have historically enjoyed social and economic rights on par with nationals, while in Lebanon, where confessional balances dictate the political system, the majority Sunni Palestinian refugee population are denied the rights to work and own property out of demographic fears.

UNRWA has had to continuously grovel and praise the regime in Syria for fear that their projects would be stopped or their international staff expelled or denied visas. The Syrian regime is probably responsible for killing more Palestinians than Israel—for example, the War of the Camps (1985-89)  in Beirut and the North which can only be described as an Assad-Arafat war; they also played a leading role in Tel el Zaatar and in cleansing the camps anywhere north of Saida from Fateh/PLO presence. They also used al-Saiqa, the PFLP-GC and the Yarmouk Brigade of the PLA to do their dirty work in the Bekaa and in the North.  

Also her statement about Lebanon is not correct especially when she attributes it to the refugees being Sunni and that the problem is the confessional balance. The Taif agreement in Lebanon was a settlement to end the war and the Palestinian issue was mentioned in it as one of the (major) factors to defuse by saying that there will be no tawteen. This sectarian view of things is mainly in the eye of the beholder. It is like when people say that Lebanon gave nationality to the Christians and the rich, meaning that the Lebanese are sectarian and materialistic—yet there were many Palestinians in the camps that also got the nationality, in the 1950s it was being distributed left right and centre. One refugee from Burj el-Shamali told me that his father and his father’s eight brothers and sisters and all their children got it and they paid 10 LL for it at the time in stamp duty.

One could also note that the Jordanian government also censures researchers and tries to suppress any negative image that can be given about the refugees in Jordan. It is not that the Lebanese government does not care. Rather, they don’t read and anyone can publish anything they like on the topic.

* * *

My own take? I tilt towards Leila’s view on this one, but invite others to weigh in via the comments section below. (Note that comments sometimes take a while to appear, since they are moderated.)

In March 2010 the Heinrich Böll Stiftung (a “political non-profit organization striving to promote democracy, civil society, equality and a healthy environment internationally,” linked to the German Green Party) held a conference on the Palestinian issue in Berlin.

The historic event of the formation of Israel had, however, far-reaching consequences not only for the Jewish people and the yishuv, the Jewish community in the British mandate territory of Palestine, but also for the Arab-Palestinian people. Around 800,000 Palestinians had to leave their home during the 1948-49 war either because they were driven out or forced to flee. 170,000 stayed in Israel, became citizens of Israel and, with approx. 1.3 million, have become a minority in the Jewish state over the last 60 years. Since then, the refugees of the Nakba (“catastrophe”) and their children have lived in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in the Arab states of the Middle East and scattered throughout the entire world. Their numbers are estimated to be at least 4 to 5 million. Their day-to-day realities could hardly be more different. 2.4 million have lived for more than 40 years under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, 1.4 million under Israeli siege in the Gaza Strip, millions more live in the countries of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria next to Israel. In 2008, the UNRWA counted a total of roughly 4.6 million Palestinian refugees (this figure was 914,000 in 1950). Only a small percentage has managed to integrate. Others have started new lives, most of them in the Arab Gulf states, in Europe and North and Latin America.

The geographic and social fragmentation of the Palestinian people is essentially a result of the conflict in the Middle East. But a wide variety of other change processes – economic, social, gender-specific, political – have affected the societal development of the Palestinians over the last few decades and shape the reality of their fragmented existence. Because the political-diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict are still dominated by the decades-long debate over a two-state solution which also finds its legitimacy under international law in the 1947 UN partition plan, it is time to take a closer look at the Palestinian people and their development, which is characterized by many contradictions, development over the last 60 years. Within the framework of a final status agreement, the goal will not just be to find a viable solution for the people living in the historic region of Palestine. The right of Palestinian refugees to return has been the subject of numerous UN resolutions. Thus, the extremely different realities of refugees will also be analyzed and their prospects for the future discussed.

Late last year the edited proceedings of that conference were published (in German). The volume contains contributions by leading experts on Palestinian and Middle East politics, and quite a few pieces on the Nakba, forced displacement, UNRWA and other refugee-related topics.

For those of you who read German, the full volume can be downloaded for free as a pdf here. For those who can’t, many of the original English-language conference papers can be found here.

h/t Michael Fischbach

The Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee may be an official entity of the Lebanese Council of Ministers, but its President Abdul-Majid Kassir minces few words in condemning Lebanon’s current prohibition of property ownership by Palestinian refugees in a recent interview with the Daily Star:

Abdul-Majid Kassir, president of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, has called Lebanon’s law that bars Palestinians from owning property “unjust” and a “violation of human rights.”

The former diplomat took the helm of the body tasked with improving relations between the two communities last summer, and spoke with The Daily Star Thursday about a wide range of issues that affect an often strained relationship.

In 2001, Parliament passed a law that bars Palestinians from owning or inheriting property. Kassir called this law “unjustified and unjust, and a violation of human rights,” and said that “there is no benefit to it, for Lebanese or Palestinians. It also harms the image of Lebanon.”

Kassir added that the issue of land ownership is political, and that the law was prompted by “talk about the possibility of the presence of an international conspiracy to nationalize Palestinians in Lebanon.” But he does not consider “that there is a relationship between rights of Palestinians to land ownership and nationalization.”

Palestinians themselves are not interested in becoming Lebanese nationals, he said, referring to a topic that has been a flashpoint for the debate about Palestinians in Lebanon. “They do not want a replacement to their nation, and they cling to the right of return,” he said.

He also addresses the issue of employment opportunities for refugees, both with regard to slow implementation of limited labour reforms introduced in 2010 as well as the continuing barriers facing Palestinian professionals:

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, of which there are between 260,000 and 450,000, have often found obtaining legal work difficult. A law signed early last year was intended to ameliorate this situation. It removed a $300 work permit fee, as well as the requirement for a pre-existing contract. But the law is yet to be fully implemented, Kassir said, because “the implementation decree is late, but inevitably will be issued soon. The political situation today in Lebanon is somewhat obstructive, and the minister [of labor] has been busy with the issue of wages, and before that with other issues.”

“The work of Palestinians in general is something that I believe will add value to national economic activity,” Kassir stressed, adding that he does not foresee Palestinians competing with Lebanese for jobs. Of the some thirty professions from which Palestinians are still barred, including medicine, engineering and law, Kassir said they should be dealt with by the syndicates that govern these vocations: “If [the syndicates] allow [Palestinian] engineers and lawyers to work, then nothing will prevent the syndicates from this.”

Read the rest of the interview for Kassir’s comments on weapons in the refugee camps, Lebanese public attitudes to the refugees, and other issues. In addition, the LPDC website has information on other initiatives, including regarding the computerization of refugee records.

It is an excellent interview, and one hopes that it is indicative of a revitalized LPDC under Kassir’s leadership. Recent years have been characterized by a mismatch between the genuinely good intentions of LPDC staff and a glacial pace of change (especially since the end of Fouad Siniora’s term as prime minister). There are, of course, a number of contextual reasons for this, notably the extreme political sensitivity of the refugee issue in Lebanon, the limited capacity of the notoriously weak Lebanese state, and the frequency with which local and regional politics and crises overwhelm other areas of Lebanese policy.

Unfortunately, the resulting gap between rhetoric and reform can be corrosive. As I warned in a paper on the topic back in 2009:

Unless the Lebanese government is able to facilitate more positive and concrete changes in the daily lives of Palestinian refugees, the policy is likely to be viewed in an increasingly cynical light by the refugees. Already, many see it as little more than a rhetorical posture intended to improve Lebanon’s international image, rather than a real change.

Unfortunately, the last few years saw little productive change, with the LPDC playing only a minor (and indeed diminishing) role. Hopefully under Kassir’s leadership the LPDC will—however modestly given Lebanese political realities—work to reverse that previous pattern.

Lebanese MTV mocks Palestinian refugee rights

Posted: February 5, 2012 by Rex Brynen in Lebanon
Tags: ,

Lebanon’s MTV (Murr Television–unrelated to the US music channel MTV) recently broadcast a skit by the “comedy” troupe Ktir Salbe mocking efforts to improve the situation of Palestinian refugees in the country.

كتير سلبي أنه الكل عم يحكوا عن حقوق الفلسطيني بلبنان، مع العلم أنه اللبناني ما حدا عم يحكي عن حقوقه
Ktir salbeh that everyone is talking about the rights of the Palestinians in Lebanon but no one is talking about the rights of the Lebanese.

كتير سلبي أنه تلت أرباع شبابنا مهاجرين وتلت أرباع اماتنا عم تبكي من شوقهن لولادهن
Ktir salbeh that the majority of our youth immigrated and the majority of our mums are crying because they miss their children.

بينما موضوع ملف توطين الفلسطينيين صار موضوع على نار حامية ويمكن صار أمر واقع… عرؤوسنا
meanwhile the issue of the settlement of Palestinians is now boiling and maybe it is falling fact.. on our heads.

كتير سلبي أنه فلسطين ما تعود للفلسطينيين بس اللي سلبي بعد أكتر أنه لبنان ما يعود بس للبنانيين
Ktir salbeh that Palestine stops being for Palestinians but what is more salbeh is that Lebanon stops being only for the Lebanese.

كتير سلبي أنه ينحكى عن حق تملك الفلسطينيين بلبنان شقة بالوقت اللي اذا اللبناني لاقى شقة ما معه يدفع حقها
Ktir salbeh that we’re discussing the right of Palestinians to own flats in Lebanon while when the Lebanese find a flat, they can’t afford to pay for it.

كتير سلبي أنه لبنان بس يحمل همّ الفلسطيني بالوقت اللي أكترية الدول العربية الباقية ما بدها تدفع فلس لأنها مش من هالطينة
Ktir salbeh that only the Lebanese worry about the Palestinians while most of the other Arab countries don’t want to pay a penny because they’re not made out of this.

The transcript above is via a report yesterday in al-Akhbar, which goes on to comment:

One wonders if any of these people on MTV have ever entered a Palestinian refugee camp. As one tweep remarked “The way these people are talking on MTV you’d think Palestinians in Lebanon lived in palaces and it was the Lebanese who lived in refugee camps.” About 400,000 Palestinians live in overcrowded refugee camps all over Lebanon, while being denied their basic civil rights.

The most depressing thing is that this is not the first time that MTV has aired blatantly racist content. Facebook is full of angry people commenting on how MTV represents people from Lebanon’s city of Baalbak in the Bekaa valley as insane violent farmers.

Less than two months ago, MTV aired a distressing and highly dangerous report on how “foreigners” are the main reason behind crimes in the Christian neighborhood of Burj Hammoud. The report fails to mention that the Christians in Burj Hammoud, who are mostly of Armenian descent, were once foreigners and refugees as well. The area should have been celebrated for welcoming other communities instead of demonizing them and spreading sectarian fear and xenophobic hate.

Ktir Salbeh has recently made fun of migrant domestic workers. When interviewed by Now Lebanon this week, the show’s director Hani Khafsheh claimed that the critics do not understand the program’s sense of humour. He also tried hiding behind the double meaning of the wordsalbeh by claiming that here it was used as “negative.” As activists rightfully told Now Lebanon, “racism is not funny.”

Not funny indeed.

AJE: Mohamed at Eton

Posted: January 25, 2012 by Rex Brynen in Lebanon

Last month al-Jazeera English broadcast an interesting documentary about Mohamad Fahed, a 16 year-old refugee from Rashidieh camp in Lebanon who won a scholarship to attend Britain’s elite Eton College. You’ll find the full documentary on YouTube below.