Last updated on: 5/21/2008 3:20:00 PM PST

What Was the 1983 Kahan Commission Report?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Steven Salaita, PhD, Assistant Professor of English at Virginia Tech University, in a 2002 Texas Studies in Literature and Language essay titled "The Kahan Commission Report and a Balcony Over the Fakihani: A Tale of Two Fictions," offered the following:

"The Kahan Commission Report was produced during the Lebanese Civil War... The Report was sanctioned by the State of Israel following the 1982 massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon, and was drafted by then Supreme Court President, Yitzhak Kahan, Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak, and Israeli Defense Force Major General Yonah Efrat. The Commission was a watershed event in Israeli politics. Following the slaughter, some 400,000 protesters convened on Tel Aviv to demand an investigation into the massacres, which had received heavy coverage on the international news...

The public presentation of the commissioners' findings led to virtual hysteria... The Report drew an explicit distinction between direct and indirect responsibility. The Report implicated Defense Minister Ariel Sharon under the charge of indirect responsibility. This charge led to his subsequent resignation under heavy pressure and to a successful lawsuit he filed against Time magazine two years later for incriminating him under false premises. The lawsuit thus cleared his name and served as the basis for his political reemergence. Also implicated under the charge of indifference were Brigadier General Amos Yaron, Major General Yehoshua Saguy, Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan, and Major General Amir Drori.

The Kahan Commission Report was more than anything a document of public relations, intended to quell an angry domestic citizenry and an international audience suddenly becoming skeptical about the righteousness of Israel's military cause."

2002 - Steven Salaita, PhD 

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (IMFA), in an entry titled "Report of the Commission of Inquiry Into the Events at the Refugee Camps in Beirut - 8 February 1983" on its website (accessed Dec. 5, 2006), contained the following description:

"The Commission determined that the massacre at Sabra and Shatilla was carried out by a Phalangist unit, acting on its own but its entry was known to Israel. No Israeli was directly responsible for the events which occurred in the camps. But the Commission asserted that Israel had indirect responsibility for the massacre since the I.D.F. held the area, Mr. Begin was found responsible for not exercising greater involvement and awareness in the matter of introducing the Phalangists into the camps.

Mr. Sharon was found responsible for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge when he approved the entry of the Phalangists into the camps as well as not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed. Mr. Shamir erred by not taking action after being alerted by communications Minister Zippori. Chief of Staff Eitan did not give the appropriate orders to prevent the massacre. The Commission recommended that the Defense Minister resign, that the Director of Military Intelligence not continue in his post and other senior officers be removed."

Dec. 5, 2006 - Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs