Acknowledge 45th Anniversary of Damour Massacre, Commit to Reform

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January 20, 2021 marks the 45th anniversary of the Damour Massacre which took place over the course of several days in January 1976.

PLO forces murdered between 500 and 1,000 Lebanese Christians in Damour, Lebanon. The massacre, which began on January 20, 1976 lasted for days and was committed in retaliation for the Karantina massacre in East Beirut perpetrated by Christian Phalangists a few weeks before, itself a reaction to the killing of Christians in several areas of Beirut.

The Karantina and Damour massacres were part of a tit-for-tat war between various factions during the Lebanese Civil War, a war caused by the PLO’s destabilizing presence in the country.

The PLO had been previously ejected from Jordan for its effort to topple the government in that country after the Six Day War. By creating a state-within-a-state in Jordan, the PLO set the stage for a civil war (also known as “Black September”) that cost approximately 4,000 people their lives in 1970. Then it went to Lebanon to build yet another state-within-a-state that undermined the already fragile political structure of Lebanon, which descended into a civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1990 and cost more than 100,000 people their lives.

The Damour Massacre is yet another example that wherever the PLO goes, it causes mayhem and destruction. Now the PLO controls the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank.

If the PLO hadn’t tried to topple Jordan’s King Hussein, the PLO would not have needed to flee into Lebanon. Once it was in Lebanon, the terrorist organization had no right to interfere in that country’s politics and create a state-within-a-state. And whatever right the PLO had in punishing the perpetrators for the Karantina Massacre did not legitimize the murder of innocent civilians in Damour several weeks later.

The details surrounding the Damour Massacre are horrific.

Writing in Arutz Sheva in 2002, Murray Kahl provides detail:

Before the arrival of the PLO, [Damour] was a town of some 25,000 people with five churches, three chapels, seven schools, both private and public, and one public hospital where Muslims from nearby villages were treated along with the Christians at the expense of the town.

On 9 January 1976, the priest of Damour, Father Mansour Labaky, was carrying out a Maronite […] custom of blessing the houses with holy water when a bullet whistled past his ear and hit one of the houses. He soon learned that the town was surrounded by the forces of Sa’iqa, a PLO terrorist group affiliated with Syria. The shooting and shelling continued all day. When Father Labaky telephoned a local Muslim sheikh and asked him, as a fellow religious leader, what he could do to help the people of the town, the sheikh replied, “I can do nothing. They want to harm you. It is the Palestinians. I cannot stop them.” Other Lebanese politicians, of both the Left and the Right, proved equally unhelpful, offering only apologies and commiserations. Kamal Jumblatt, in whose parliamentary constituency Damour lay, told Labaky, “Father, I can do nothing for you, because it depends on Yasser Arafat.” The Maronite priest then called Arafat’s headquarters, but was deferred to a subordinate, who told him “Father, don’t worry. We don’t want to harm you. If we are destroying you it is for strategic reasons.”

Despite the pleas, the violence continued against the Christians of Damour. Labaky described the final attack that took place on 23 January 1976:

It was an apocalypse. They were coming, thousands and thousands, shouting “Allahu Akbar! God is Great! Let us attack them for the Arabs, let us offer a holocaust.” They were slaughtering everyone in their path, men, women, and children. Whole families were killed in their homes. Many women were gang-raped, and few of them left alive afterwards.

The horror of this massacre needs to be reckoned with by both the Palestinian Authority and Christian institutions that advocate for the Palestinian cause in both the Holy Land and the rest of the world.

These Christian organizations include, but are not limited to:

  • The World Council of Churches
  • The World Evangelical Alliance
  • World Vision
  • Embrace the Middle East in the United Kingdom
  • Bethlehem Bible College (which hosts Christ at the Checkpoint Conferences where Israel is demonized)
  • Kairos Palestine (and its affiliates outside the Holy Land)
  • Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (and its affiliates outside the Holy Land)
  • Mainline churches in the United States
  • Numerous other churches
  • The Damour Massacre is not the only bit of Palestinian history that needs to be repented for by Palestinian elites and acknowledged by Christian allies of the PA.

Other problems include:

  • Ongoing incitement in Palestinian media outlets controlled by the PA and Hamas
  • The use of the Temple Mount (or Haram al Sharrif) as a focal point for antisemitic propaganda
  • Salaries being paid to terrorists who murder Israelis by the PA (the pay-to-slay program)
  • The Palestinian use of children as human shields during times of conflict
  • Praise for Palestinian terrorists who have killed Israelis by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and other high-ranking Palestinian officials
  • Corruption and authoritarianism on the part of Hamas and the PA
  • The failure of the PA to hold timely elections

The failure of Palestinian elites to acknowledge the right of the Jewish people to a sovereign state and self-determination in the Holy Land (even as they insist on this right for the Palestinian people)

The failure of Palestinian leaders to negotiate in good faith with Israel over the past two decades

For that reason, we the undersigned call on the Palestinian Authority to:

  • Repent for the role of its constituent parties in the Damour Massacre
  • Stop paying salaries to terrorists
  • Initiate a campaign of political and social reform
  • Refrain from putting children in harm’s way
  • Confront governmental corruption in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank
  • Hold elections to elect leaders empowered to negotiate honestly and in good faith with Israel, and in so doing acknowledge the right of Jews to a sovereign state and
  • Stop incitement on media outlets and on the Temple Mount

We also ask that Christian institutions who have advocated for the Palestinian cause insist that the Palestinian Authority admit and repent of its role in the Damour Massacre and speak publicly about these and other abuses listed above.

Initial Signatories:

Tricia Miller, Ph.D., President of National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel, President of Christians and Jews United for Israel, Christian Media Analyst, CAMERA

Jackie Goodall, Executive Director, Ireland Israel Alliance

John Ahern, Pastor, All Nations Church, Dublin

Dexter Van Zile, board member of National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel, Shillman Research Fellow, CAMERA