A Preventable Massacre, Article Critique Example
Words: 765Article Critique
In the article “A Preventable Massacre”, written by Seth Anziska and published on September 16, 2012 in The New York Times, the author examines the political relations that engendered a 1982 massacre in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. As Anziska explicates the narrative, the massacre, conducted by right-wing Lebanese militia forces against Palestinian refugees, was facilitated by the Israeli government, insofar as the latter was aware of the potentiality of the massacre, but did nothing to prevent it. Furthermore, Anziska suggests that the United States also bears culpability for the incident, since they relied upon Israeli assessments of the conditions on the ground in Lebanon, as opposed to relying upon their own intelligence sources. The thesis proposed by Anziska is based upon the author’s empirical research into the event, primarily relying upon the Israel State Archives to bolster his claim. Following Anziska’s detailed study of the massacre, it would appear that his thesis is justified, since the historical data supports Israeli complicity.
The massacre in question resulted in the death of over 800 Palestinian civilians. As Anziska describes the incident, the massacre was not an “efficient cleaning”, but rather a scene of profound violence. The massacre lasted for approximately three days, leading to not only the death of these Palestinian refugees, but in some cases, the dismemberment and rape of refugeed. The massacre remains a relevant political event because it discloses the complex geopolitical situation in the Middle East. The tumultuous paradigm is constituted by multiple forces that are antagonistic to each other, such as the Palestinians, the Lebanese militias, Israel, and ultimately, as Anziska frames the event, the United States.
Anziska’s usage of Israeli archives to implicate the Israelis in the massacre can be deemed legitimate. This is largely because Anziska’s thesis was not produced in a vacuum. The conclusion of Israeli complicity, according to the author, was reached by the Israeli government itself, when in 1983 an independent investigative commission appointed by the Israeli authorities also concluded that various key figures in the Israeli power-structure were culpable for the atrocities in the refugee camp. Since the Israelis knew of the event beforehand, their failure to prevent the massacre is an indictment of guilt. Furthermore, Anziska concludes, because the Americans relied upon Israeli information, instead of both their own intelligence assessments and the intelligence assessments of others, the United States must also be deemed culpable.
Anziska’s claims are primarily based upon publicly accessible records of political conversations internal to the Israeli government, alongside communications between the Israelis and the Americans. Accordingly, his approach to seek culpability for the massacre is firmly rooted in historical fact. The records which he cites are not from a foreign source, but rather from an endemic Israeli source. Hence, the author’s unfolding of the logic behind the Israeli refusal to prevent the attacks is not based upon conjecture from sources that are traditionally hostile to Israel, such as the Palestinian authorities, bur rather according to the Israeli records. Furthermore, Anziska’s extension of guilt to America appears legitimate. The United States, as a superpower, is not only reliant upon Israeli intelligence, but clearly possesses its own intelligence sources. Citing historical sources, Anziska convincingly argues that it would be absurd to believe that the United States would rely exclusively upon Israeli information, since the latter declared that there was no danger of such a massacre, whereas the records show that they were that the massacre would take place.
Anziska’s thesis is furthermore buttressed by the aforementioned investigative commission’s conclusions regarding these events. The investigative commission had determined that Israel was complicit in this event, insofar as they were aware of them beforehand, but did nothing to prevent the massacre. Accordingly, Anziska’s conclusions are not the result of his own interpretative approach to the sources documents, but are rather supported by other independent sources.
The strength of Anziska’s argument therefore lies in his reliance upon unbiased political sources. His ascription of guilt to Israel appears justified in light of Israeli’s own chronicles of the event. Whereas his implication of American guilt may perhaps be viewed as speculation, the author provides the rationale behind why the U.S. must also be considered culpable: it is untenable that the U.S. would only rely on Israeli intelligence sources, knowing full well Israel’s own geopolitical position in the Middle East. Anziska’s text thus provides a compelling example of how one may unravel primary sources to provide a consistent narrative, a narrative that furthermore highlights the complicated relations that underscore the political relations between Nation States in the Middle East.
Anziska, Seth. “A Preventable Massacre.” The New York Times, September 16, 2012.
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