[Marxism] To Franklin Lamb

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Sep 9 17:27:43 MDT 2011

Lamb, how in fuck's name do you write a Counterpunch article fretting 
over whether Palestinians will enjoy equal rights after the overthrow of 
Qaddafi without referring to his threat to expel them in 1995? It is bad 
enough that William Blum wrote the same nonsense without seeing it 
repeated in the same week.

There are two possibilities, either of which do not look good for you, 
that explain this omission. Either you are uninformed about this key 
event or being informed prefer to sweep it under the rug. In either 
case, you are giving radical journalism a bad name.

In case you are simply uniformed, here is something for you to chew on:


Gaddafi vows to expel a million

Robert Fisk reports on a threat that could dwarf the Palestinians' plight

Robert Fisk
Thursday, 19 October 1995

Beirut - If the story of Palestine is symbolised by ships - carrying 
those who wish to live there towards or away from the promised land - 
then the voyage of the Countess M fits neatly into the tragic saga.

With 650 Palestinians on board, more than half women and children, the 
old car ferry was riding the swell five miles off Larnaca last night 
with its homeless passengers unable to land in Syria but equally unable 
to return to Libya. As part of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's latest enforced 
exodus, the last place they were likely to find shelter was the land 
that their parents and grandparents left in the dying days of the 
British mandate of Palestine.

To blame for their immediate plight was Colonel Gaddafi, whose promise - 
to expel a million expatriate workers across the desert if they are not 
allowed to leave by air - threatens to diminish even the Palestinians' 

The United Nations sanctions committee chairman said last night that the 
deportation of a million civilians would be a human catastrophe; Colonel 
Gaddafi, of course, wants UN sanctions on Libya - imposed because of its 
alleged role in the Lockerbie bombing - lifted so that international air 
links with Tripoli and Benghazi can be restored.

The victims of the colonel's cynical pragmatism remained uncomplaining 
on board their ship off Larnaca last night, with the Cypriot port 
authorities as unwilling to allow them to land as the Syrian immigration 
officers at Latakia had been a few hours earlier. Driven out of their 
homes in Libya, the Palestinians in the Countess M were given food and 
water, while their Greek captain refused to leave Cypriot waters until a 
port had been found to accept them.

Almost all the refugees hold papers which allow them entry into Syria; 
their ship had docked in Latakia when immigration authorities decided to 
send them back on to the vessel and refuse them entry. No explanation 
was forthcoming from Damascus yesterday, although Colonel Gaddafi's 
simultaneous announcement of the expulsion of a million men may have 
influenced the Syrians. Why should they, after all, appear to approve of 
his cruelty by accepting 650 of his victims?

Late last night, the Syrians intimated that they would accept about 500 
of the stranded Palestinians who possessed Syrian documents; the 
Cypriots later suggested they may be flown to Damascus by air. But there 
was no apparent solution for the 150 or so Palestinians on the boat who 
held no such papers.

But does the colonel really intend to throw a million people out of 
Libya? This is the same man who threatened national unity with Egypt and 
Syria, who predicted the overthrow of the United States, the destruction 
of Israel and the collapse of the Gulf sheikhdoms, the same man who 
offered to give his seat on the Arab League to Yitzhak Rabin's 
government on the grounds that the rest of the Arab world had become 
allies of Israel. Certainly, Colonel Gaddafi - once one of the most 
honoured nationalist revolutionaries - is worried about a real 
revolution, that of the growing Islamist movement which opposes his 
deeply corrupt regime.

Intelligence sources, quoted in the latest issue of Tres Tres Urgent, 
the French intelligence community's favourite house magazine, believe he 
was the target of an assassination attempt in Sirte on 17 September, 
when two men were reported to have opened fire on the Libyan leader when 
he stepped out of his armoured Toyota. Both were captured by his 
bodyguards. The shooting followed at least two clashes in Benghazi 
between Colonel Gaddafi's security men and Islamist militants.

His suspicion that some of the 500,000 Sudanese living in Libya - none 
of them holding official work-permits - may have been involved, led 
almost at once to the expulsion of thousands of members of the 
expatriate community.

Hundreds of Palestinians were sent to the Egyptian border and 13,000 
Sudanese were trucked south.They were expected to arrive at the Sudanese 
frontier by the end of this week.

The UN has rejected Libya's request to repatriate 1,067,000 "illegal 
infiltrators" by air. The figure includes not only the half-million 
Sudanese but 300,000 Chadians, 250,000 from Mali, and others from 
Nigeria, Niger, Ivory Coast, Benin, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea and 

As for the 650 Palestinians off Cyprus, they were visited by a 
Palestinian diplomat yesterday, while a pregnant passenger was flown by 
a British military aircraft to Larnaca hospital for the birth of her child.

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