Lebanon: Not all apartheid is created equal.

What is apartheid ?

According to Wikipedia,

File:Apartheid.jpg

Apartheid (which is an Afrikaans word meaning “apartness”) was a political and social system in South Africa while it was under white minority rule (meaning white people ruled the country, even though there were not as many of them as there were black people).

This was in use in the 20th century, from 1948 to 1994. In the system, the people of South Africa were divided by their race and the races were forced to live apart from each other. There were laws that kept up the racial separation.

Apartheid subjected blacks to severe political, economic and social discrimination and segregation in every walk of life. They could not be citizens, vote, participate in the government or fraternize with whites.

With that in mind, how on earth can Israel, where the entire population has equal rights, be classed as an ‘apartheid State’? Read here

File:ApartheidSignEnglishAfrikaans.jpg

In Lebanon the Palestinian Arab population ranges from 260,000 to 400,000, as of 2011 Human Rights Watch estimates 300,000.

Classing them as refugees is a misnomer. A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave his or her country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. Children of those refugees are no longer stateless, they assume the nationality of the country in which they were born. Yet the consecutive generations  of the invented Palestinian people still are classed as refugees?

These so-called refugees live in an apartheid regime.

Ain al-Hilweh is the largest, most heavily armed and most violent Palestine refugee camp in Lebanon. Home to around 75,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Credit: Hugh Macleod

These people, living as they do in the most horrendous conditions, do not have Lebanese citizenship and therefore do not have Lebanese identity cards, are legally barred from owning property or legally barred from entering a list of desirable occupations. Employment requires a government-issued work permit, and, according to the New York Times, although “Lebanon hands out and renews hundreds of thousands of work permits every year to people from Africa, Asia and other Arab countries… until now, only a handful have been given” to Palestinians. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinians_in_Lebanon

Matthew Cassel wrote in a 2010 essay for The Electronic Intifada on the absence of Palestinian civil rights in the former locale:

“They are not allowed to work in more than 20 white collar professions, including medicine, law and engineering. Meanwhile, blue collar jobs require that Palestinians obtain work permits that must be renewed annually or if a worker changes employers. They are unable to own property and they are excluded from most social services offered by the state, even though they must pay social security fees to the Lebanese government in order to obtain a work permit”.

Despite the passage that same year of a law ostensibly designed to ease the obstacles to Palestinian existence on Lebanese territory, the UNRWA website continues to characterize the situation of the more than 400,000 refugees in the country as one devoid of “several basic human rights”.

2010 – Why Palestinians are second-class citizens in Lebanon

Arab leaders pay lip service to Palestinian rights – except when it comes to the rights of domiciled refugees in their countries.

Again in 2010 Opinion / Editorial Opinion in the Star – Toronto

The long-suffering Palestinians face armed soldiers at the gate if they try to leave their camps. They are frozen out of public medical and social services. They are barred from dignified work in dozens of occupations such as engineering, medicine, law and journalism. They cannot own property. Their children are banned from regular schools.

Demonstrators calling for Palestinian human rights in Lebanon march from south Beirut to downtown. (Matthew Cassel)
Demonstrators calling for Palestinian human rights in Lebanon march from south Beirut to downtown. (Matthew Cassel)

Some 6,000 Palestinians marched on the Lebanese parliament late last month to protest their discriminatory treatment — not at the hands of Israel, but by Lebanon itself.

Lebanese columnist Rami G. Khouri noted, the treatment of these Palestinians — like “penned-in animals” — must be condemned as a “lingering moral black mark.” Khouri argued that “Lebanon faces a moment akin to . . . when South Africans seriously mooted changing their apartheid system in the 1980s.”

Martin Regg Cohn in the Toronto Star goes on to say:

In fact, he’s quite wrong. Palestinians are not second-class citizens for the simple reason that they are pointedly ineligible for citizenship in Lebanon, whether first- or second-class. Lebanon’s politicians, always wary of upsetting the country’s delicate sectarian balance, have preferred to ghettoize their 300,000 Palestinian refugees in camps while righteously railing against Israel to take them back.

Six decades later, generations of Lebanese-born Palestinian refugees who have never seen Haifa — and probably never will.

He adds further:

Not all countries in the Middle East are equally prejudiced against Palestinians. Jordan grants them full citizenship, without falling for the intellectually corrupt trap of claiming that a passport precludes their right of return to Palestine. Syria grants them full residency rights, though not citizenship. Egypt does neither.

Israel, for the record, grants full citizenship, legal and language rights to Arabs (including gay Arabs) within its borders.


Nearly 13,000 Palestinian refugees are living in extreme poverty in Lebanon, Ashraf Dabour told Ma’an.

Palestinian refugees are banned from entering 75 professions in Lebanon.

“Practicing any of these careers is considered a breach of Lebanese law,”

Dabour said.

The Lebanese parliament amended a law restricting Palestinian refugees’ access to work.

“However, the Lebanese cabinet has not put that amendment into effect,”

the Palestinian ambassador said.

“We hear sweet talk from Lebanese officials about the Palestinian refugees’ right to work and live in dignity, but in reality nothing is translated into action.”

Dabour said the Palestinian health sector in Lebanon owed hospitals around $2 million.

“There are some medical procedures which our health security program in Lebanon can’t afford, and I hereby urge Arab and Palestinian businessmen to help our people in refugee camps in Lebanon.”

In April 2012 the Elder of Ziyon wrote

The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Shahed) announced in its annual report Tuesday that the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is getting worse by the year, as their rights diminish in number and value daily.

According to the report, “the [poor] housing conditions in camps have not been addressed, and there is no local or international initiative on the horizon to improve them.” It described the camps as “a breeding ground for disease, home collapses, and a well of social problems.”

There are approximately 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, most of whom live in and around the country’s 12 camps. The camps are largely overcrowded and poorly provided for in terms of water and electricity.

The health situation in the camps is also deteriorating, according to the report, despite slight improvements in UNRWA’s health services. Education provision is dramatically declining, the report added, as problems in the education system have accumulated for 20 years now with the exception of a slight improvement at the high school level.

Wikipedia writes:

According to Human Rights Watch, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in “appalling social and economic conditions.” They labor under legal restrictions that bar them from employment in at least 25 professions, “including law, medicine, and engineering,” a system that relegates them to the black market for labor. And they are “still subject to a discriminatory law introduced in 2001 preventing them from registering property.” The discrimination Palestinians “suffer” when they apply for jobs in Lebanon has been compared to the “apartheid mentality” used by the ruling Sunni family of Bahrain towards its majority Shi’ite population. Unlike Lebanon however Bahrain does not have any laws to bar Shi’ite from employment.

Israeli Arab Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh and other commentators accuse Lebanon of practicing apartheid against Palestinian Arabs who have lived in Lebanon as stateless refugees since 1948. According to Human Rights Watch,

 “In 2001, Parliament passed a law prohibiting Palestinians from owning property, a right they had for decades. Lebanese law also restricts their ability to work in many areas. In 2005, Lebanon eliminated a ban on Palestinians holding most clerical and technical positions, provided they obtain a temporary work permit from the Labor Ministry, but more than 20 high-level professions remain off-limits to Palestinians.

Few Palestinians have benefited from the 2005 reform, though. In 2009, only 261 of more than 145,679 permits issued to non-Lebanese were for Palestinians. Civil society groups say many Palestinians choose not to apply because they cannot afford the fees and see no reason to pay a portion of their salary toward the National Social Security Fund, since Lebanese law bars Palestinians from receiving social security benefits.”

In one of his series of articles accusing the government of Lebanon of practicing

“apartheid” against the resident Palestinian community, journalist Khaled Abu Toameh describes the “special legal status” as “foreigners” assigned uniquely to Palestinians,

“a fact which has deprived them of health care, social services, property ownership and education. Even worse, Lebanese law bans Palestinians from working in many jobs. This means that Palestinians cannot work in the public services and institutions run by the government such as schools and hospitals. Unlike Israel, Lebanese public hospitals do not admit Palestinians for medical treatment or surgery.”

Journalist Ben-Dror Yemini describes Palestinians in Lebanon as living

“under various restrictions that could fill a chapter on Arab apartheid against the Palestinians. One of the most severe restrictions is a ban on construction. This ban is enforced even in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, bombed by the Lebanese army in 2007. Calling on Lebanon to change the systematic discrimination against his people, Palestinian journalist Rami George Khouri compared Lebanese treatment of Palestinians to the “Apartheid system” of South Africa.

Even Ma’an News, which under normal circumstances, will never say a word against fellow Arab/Muslim countries has this to say..

Around 160,000 Palestinians are living below the poverty line in refugee camps in Lebanon, the ambassador to Beirut says.

This email was sent to ‘Sussex Friends of Israel’, by a former South African resident now living in England. It pretty much sums it up.

Dear Sussex Friends of Israel
I grew up in South Africa at the height of Apartheid and I was horrified by it. To compare this regime to Israel is sheer ignorance.

Let me explain, Palestinians get treated alongside Israeli’s in hospital. Israeli’s are cared for by Palestinian doctors and nurses.

This would be outrageous in South Africa on two counts alone, Blacks touching Whites and Blacks being allowed to become doctors and nurses.

Arabs have become High Court judges, have been elected to the Knesset, and have attended integrated universities, all unheard of in South Africa.

In South Africa the colour of your skin minutely governed the job you could do. For example, pure Blacks could only be labourers on building sites. Mixed Race (then called Coloureds) could be bricklayers etc. Cape Malays (Muslims) fared slightly better, but were still subject to many restrictions.

In Israel, regardless of race, religion or creed, you can achieve as much as your talents allow.

There are no Muslim apartheid states. They have already ethnically cleansed their countries of Jews in the Middle East and Hindu’s in Pakistan. They are now working on ridding themselves of Christians and the ‘wrong kind’ of Muslims.

Incidentally, Jews were greatly over-represented in the Anti-Apartheid movement. Muslims were under-represented. Nelson Mandela himself made that observation.

Keep up the good work you do for our community and for Israel.

 

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