Aug. 25, 2019
- The controversy surrounding the crackdown on illegal workers and businesses, and the increased fear in Lebanon that the Palestinian protests could plunge the country into violence and anarchy, are likely to escalate in the coming days: the Lebanese authorities appear determined to continue.
- Lebanon’s discriminatory and apartheid laws and measures against Palestinians are not new. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Palestinians in Lebanon are excluded from key facets of social, political and economic life. Palestinian refugees face legal restrictions that limit their rights, including the prohibition to work in 39 professions and to own property. Moreover, they have limited access to state-provided services such as health and education. Professions that remain prohibited for Palestinians include healthcare, engineering, transport, fishing, and the public sector and law.
- It takes little imagination to predict the global uproar were, say, Israel to ban Arabs from working as engineers, can drivers, nurses or physicians. The international community and pro-Palestinian groups, however, seem distinctly indifferent about the plight of Palestinians in an Arab country.
- While the Lebanese people’s fear of Palestinian violence in their country is warranted, there is no reason why any Arab country should be subjecting Palestinians to discriminatory and apartheid regulations. The story of the mistreatment of Palestinians in Lebanon is a microcosm of a bigger problem: the Arab “betrayal” and “abandonment” of Palestinians.
- It is time for the Arab countries to replace lip service to the Palestinians with deeds. It is also time for the international community and so-called pro-Palestinian groups to start reckoning with the real suffering of Palestinians, particularly in Lebanon.
The Lebanese are angry. Why? Because Palestinians are protesting a crackdown on illegal foreign workers in Lebanon, thereby exposing Lebanese racism and a hatred of their Palestinian brothers.
For the past three weeks, thousands of Palestinians in Lebanon have been demonstrating against the Lebanese authorities’ crackdown on illegal workers, which is directed mainly against Palestinians and Syrians living there.
“The Palestinians are not foreigners in Lebanon,” said the Palestinian academic and political analyst, Abdel Sattar Qassem.