Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chickenfeed for the Soul

A 15-Minute Sop for Refugees


"At 3:02 p.m. on August 17 Lebanon’s Parliament began its deliberation on granting basic civil rights to its Palestinian refugees and within four minutes agreed to alter article 50 of Lebanon’s 1964 labor law to theoretically make it easier for Palestinian refugees to obtain a work permit and a job. There was no discussion of other draft bills to grant Palestinian refugees elementary civil rights, and fifteen minutes later, by 3:17 p.m. Parliament had agreed on the next bill involving excavating for oil, which may bring millions to some well placed members. Many MP’s hadn’t studied either bill.

Thus did the bell ring on Round One of the fight in Lebanon for elementary civil rights for Palestinians refugees....

The mild gesture Lebanon made on August 17 will not grant Palestinian refugees here their internationally mandated civil rights. Not by a long shot. Perhaps the most that can be said in Lebanon’s favor is that it took a first tentative step. Hopefully, symbolically it will break the stereotype against Palestinians a bit and show the public that the sky did not fall in by yesterday’s gesture and will ease the stress concerning granting some meaningful civil rights.

As the Lebanese like to say, “step by step.” For the quarter million Palestinian refugees stuck in squalor in Lebanon’s 12 camps and the 75,000 in the 42 ‘gatherings’, the cause of civil rights in Lebanon endures and the dream of returning to Palestine is alive."

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