While it may have escaped your notice given the overall lack of media attention, the UN General Assembly voted 110-7 with 56 abstentions (and yes, the usual suspects voted against) on November 26, 2013 to make 2014 officially the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. As part of this motion, a number of related activities are planned for this year under the auspices of the United Nations to demonstrate this support. The official launch ceremony takes place today (January 16) and the resolution aims to achieve the following through the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People:promote solidarity with the Palestinian people as a central theme, contributing to international awareness of (a) core themes regarding the question of Palestine, as prioritized by the Committee, (b) obstacles to the ongoing peace process, particularly those requiring urgent action such as settlements, Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza and the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and; (c) mobilization of global action towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine in accordance with international law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.
While we celebrate this important milestone in international support (which hasn’t really shifted in any way in the past 40 years), another important event is taking up much more of the spotlight. Much of the world continues to mourn the passing of a man many if not most outside of Israel regarded as a war criminal of the first degree, former Israeli Defense Minister, Prime Minister, “bulldozer”, butcher and self-proclaimed “warrior” Ariel Sharon.
Indeed, there is a great sadness to his death as pointed out by Human Rights Watch, one of the international human rights organizations who wanted to see him in the docks, in that justice will never be served for his numerous crimes. The piles of Palestinian bodies in Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon in 1982, the apartheid wall dissecting the occupied West Bank, and the consolidation and expansion of colonial settlements in East Jerusalem and West Bank are all elements of a legacy that should not be forgotten.
Here is an interesting discussion by Noam Chomsky and Rashid Khalidi about his legacy.
Here Robert Fisk and others who were present at the time reflect on Sharon’s responsibility for the slaughter in Lebanon in 1982 as Minister of Defense, a role that saw Sharon deemed unfit to hold public office by his own state. Sadly, it appears that this was quickly forgotten. Lest we forget. Again.