Thursday, August 19, 2010

The soft bigotry of low expectations

Reuters Beirut-based correspondent Mariam Karouny pens an ostensibly sympathetic tale of Palestinian Arab refugees living in Lebanon.  Long denied civil and human rights including the ability to work in many professions or even to own an apartment, the descendants of those Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 live in squalid camps and are only now being granted modest opportunities to integrate into Lebanese society:
Palestinians have long been marginalized in Lebanon, where the 1975-90 civil war was sparked by a conflict between Palestinian and Lebanese Christian factions
"The parliament has passed the Palestinian rights (law) which is related to work and (giving them) social security," said lawmaker Nawwaf al-Mussawi after the session. 
The law allows granting refugees work permits without fees and also calls for setting up a fund to cover expenses of work related accidents and end of service pay.
What's interesting about Karouny's story, is how she parrots and rationalizes the Lebanese line on why the children and grandchildren of Arabs who originally lived in what became Israel (most of whom have actually been born in Lebanon) are refused not only citizenship in Lebanon, but basic civil rights as well:
Some politicians in Lebanon argue that granting them [Palestinians] civil rights such as property ownership and work permits would promote naturalization -- an explosive issue which has raised fears of upsetting Lebanon's delicate sectarian balance. 
Can one imagine Reuters treating this type of overt religious discrimination if it occurred in say, Israel or the US, with the same kid gloves?  (Rhetorical question).

Karouny then seeks to make the Palestinians themselves complicit in Lebanon's economic, social and political oppression of its Palestinian Arab population with this utterly absurd generalization:
Palestinians themselves have repeatedly said they oppose plans to settle them in Lebanon, saying they want to go back to the villages their families fled or were forced to flee during fighting which created the state of Israel in 1948.
No scientific survey is offered in evidence for this assertion nor is there recourse to an interview with a single Palestinian living in Lebanon who favors the disenfranchised life of a refugee over the benefits of naturalization (we're certain Karouny could have found one).

Reuters does however, provide proof positive of the Totality of Palestinian aspirations with a photo taken in June of a Palestinian man holding a symbolic key to a house left behind in Israel.

Apparently, case closed.

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