A meeting organized by the Beirut branch of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in cooperation with the Not to Forget Sabra and Shatila Committee was addressed by French intellectual and author Alain Gresh, who delivered a lecture titled "Israeli Impunity from International Law". Alongside Lebanese and Palestinian members of the audience, the meeting - chaired by ACRPS Researcher Saker Abu Fakher - was also attended by a wide group of Palestinian solidarity activists from around the world, including delegations from the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium and Malaysia (a 120 person strong delegation). The audience as a whole could barely be contained in the Conference Center at Beirut's Crowne Plaza.
Gresh, born in Cairo in 1948, spoke of US and Israeli hypocrisy towards international law, commenting that the Allied powers who took part in World War II decided to include provisions for the protection of civilians and civilian property during wartime in
international law. Yet these principles quickly changed after the September 11 attacks in New York, citing Neoconservative Harvard legal scholar Alan Dershowitz as saying "the laws of war and the rules of morality must adapt to these [new] realities". Gresh further suggested that this new approach to international law was a recasting of the situation whereby only Western countries were seen to be civilized, while other countries were backwards and uncivilized. Essentially, said Gresh, this position justified the killing of civilians in those countries deemed backwards because, in the imperialist worldview, "backwards" peoples understood only the language of violence. He exemplified these explicit departures from international law by citing the extra-judicial detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and the US wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.
Israeli disregard for international law, however, pre-dated 9/11. This Israeli pattern of behavior, including multiple massacres in both Lebanon and Palestine, of which Sabra and Shatila was but one, witnessed a resurgence under the Premiership of Benjamin Netanyahu.
In a similar vein, the Israelis used the same excuse to bomb Palestinian civilian homes in Gaza during the Winter of 2008-2009, claiming the occupants were hiding "terrorists". Gresh expressed his concern that this type of thinking would come to dominate the world, suggesting that this would be a throwback to an imperialist worldview. Such an eventuality would be a true disaster.
Following the lecture, Alain Gresh signed copies of his book, Reflections on the Meaning of Palestine, which the ACRPS has translated and published in Arabic.