One of the hallmarks of journalism is to independently verify info before printing a "fact." Otherwise, readers are only being treated to rumors, accusations and even propaganda.
The aftermath of the fighting in the Jenin refugee camp has dominated media reports. Though not independently verified, many media outlets devoted huge amounts of ink to unverified Palestinian tales of conspiracies, mass murders, common graves, and war crimes.
The worst journalistic atrocities occurred in the British Press. The Independent, The Telegraph, and The Times of London all quote the same lone individual, 28-year-old Kamal Anis, who said that "he saw the Israeli soldiers pile 30 bodies beneath a half-wrecked house. When the pile was complete, they bulldozed the building, bringing its ruins down on the corpses. Then they flattened the area with a tank." (The Independent)
Some examples of the British bias:
- The Guardian - Suzanne Goldenberg
- The Times of London - Janine di Giovanni
- The Telegraph - David Blair
Unfortunately, most media outlets published photos that fail to show the destruction in proportion. Instead, aerial photographs show the destroyed area to be a small percentage of the entire refugee camp, which itself is a small portion of the city of Jenin.
See the aerial photographs at:
CNN offers one clue as to what may be behind the rotting stench reportedly permeating from Jenin: U.N. official Sami Mshasha "said residents said that animals had been killed or buried in the rubble, adding to the foul smell." http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/04/20/jenin.rescue/index.html===== QUESTIONS TO ASK =====
Besides the fact that the credibility of Palestinian "witnesses" was barely questioned (despite the horrific Palestinian history of fabricating false claims), and besides the fact that equal space not given to Israeli spokesmen to present their case regarding Jenin, several important points must be directed to the British media:
- Why did these articles fail to explain that sending Israeli soldiers in for ground combat puts soldiers in grave danger, but greatly minimizes civilian casualties? The British articles focus mostly on the physical damage to buildings due to Israeli vehicles moving through the camp. The 23 Israeli deaths in Jenin attest to the danger -- all for the sake of sparing collateral damage to Palestinian civilians.
Why not contrast this to the huge damage (in comparison) wrought by the powerful bombs dropped by planes -- an option Israel did not use in Jenin, but which American and Europeans used in every war including Afghanistan, to avoid risking their soldiers in such operations. No other army in the world would have acted as the IDF.
- Why does the British media gloss over the facts of the fierce fighting that occurred in Jenin? Why do they not clarify that hundreds of Palestinian gunmen were consistently firing on Israeli soldiers? With such large numbers of gunmen insisting on "fighting to the death," there are bound to be numerous casualties.
- Why does the media fail to mention that much of the devastation in Jenin was caused not by Israeli soldiers, but by Palestinians themselves blowing up buildings in attempts to kill IDF soldiers. In fact, 13 soldiers died in one such booby-trapped building.
- Why did these article fail to describe how in many cases Palestinian militants refused to let Palestinian civilians leave Jenin -- a strategy which undoubtedly contributed to more civilian casualties?
- In terms of the deaths of civilians, the catalyst for the whole Jenin operation was the daily slaughter of Israeli civilians at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. This was a defensive war that Israel did not choose. Contrast how Palestinians are specifically targeting civilians, whereas Israel is targeting those terrorists who kill civilians.
- Why did these articles fail to note the lack of any Israeli accounts of "massacres?" Israel is a wildly democratic nation. Its citizen army consists of thousands of reservists from all walks of life and all political shades. If there were massacres or war crimes, soldiers would have certainly picked up their ubiquitous cell phones to report it to newspapers and members of the Knesset.
- Why do these refugee camps exist in the first place? The camps are in Area A -- territory totally controlled by Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. Arafat received hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid, yet these refugees have never been given adequate housing and facilities by Arafat. Why not?
Al-Ahram (Egypt) Weekly Online, April 18-24 edition, contains a revealing article about Omar -- one of "the revered bomb-makers from the City of the Bombers." Omar chillingly described the placement of hundreds of explosives throughout the camp and the involvement of Palestinian women and children in the war effort:
"Of all the fighters in the West Bank we were the best prepared," he says. "We started working on our plan: to trap the invading soldiers and blow them up from the moment the Israeli tanks pulled out of Jenin last month."
Omar and other "engineers" made hundreds of explosive devices and carefully chose their locations.
"We had more than 50 houses booby-trapped around the camp. We chose old and empty buildings and the houses of men who were wanted by Israel because we knew the soldiers would search for them," he said. "We cut off lengths of mains water pipes and packed them with explosives and nails. Then we placed them about four meters apart throughout the houses -- in cupboards, under sinks, in sofas."
The fighters hoped to disable Israeli tanks with much more powerful bombs placed inside rubbish bins on the street. More explosives were hidden inside the cars of Jenin's most wanted men. Connected by wires, the bombs were set off remotely, triggered by the current from a car battery...
And what about the explosion and ambush last Tuesday which killed 13 soldiers? "They were lured there," he says. "We all stopped shooting and the women went out to tell the soldiers that we had run out of bullets and were leaving. The women alerted the fighters as the soldiers reached the booby-trapped area..."
Read the full Al Ahram report in English:
====== IRONIC BRITISH HYPOCRISY =====
With the British media leading the hoopla against Israel, it is important to note official British documents showing how British authorities -- in combating Palestinian terrorism during the Mandate years -- utilized anti-terror methods considerably harsher than those used by Israeli forces. (Much of the following information comes from the Jerusalem Post, "How the British Fought Terror in Jenin," by Raphael Medoff - April 19, 2002)
Following the assassination of a British district commissioner by a Palestinian in Jenin in the summer of 1938, British authorities decided that "a large portion of the town should be blown up" as punishment. On August 25, 1938, a British convoy brought 4,200 kilos of explosives to Jenin for that purpose.
In the Jenin operation and on other occasions, local Arabs were forced to drive "mine-sweeping taxis" ahead of British vehicles in areas where Palestinian terrorists were believed to have planted mines, in order "to reduce [British] landmine casualties."
On another occasion, British forces responded to the presence of terrorists in the Arab village of Miar, north of Haifa, by blowing up house after house in October 1938. "When the [British] troops left, there was little else remaining of the once-busy village except a pile of mangled masonry," The New York Times reported.
Under Emergency Regulation 19b, the British Mandate government could demolish any house located in a village where terrorists resided, even if that particular house had no direct connection to terrorist activity. Mandate official Hugh Foot later recalled: "When we thought that a village was harboring rebels, we'd go there and mark one of the large houses. Then, if an incident was traced to that village, we'd blow up the house we'd marked."
The British describe having demolished 237 houses in a few days. See the document at: http://domino.un.org
In response to concerns about the morality of these methods, Lord Dufferin of the British Colonial Office said: "British lives are being lost and I don't think that we, from the security of Whitehall, can protest squeamishly about measures taken by the men in the frontline."
Sir John Shuckburgh defended the tactics on the grounds that the British were confronted "not with a chivalrous opponent playing the game according to the rules, but with gangsters and murderers."
Ironically, the British became the target of a smear campaign by Arab propagandists, who alleged that British soldiers gouged out the eyes of Arab prisoners. These charges were publicized widely in the Nazi German press and elsewhere.
====== MEDICAL CARE =====
Dr. David Zangen, a senior pediatrician at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and the chief medical officer in Jenin, told a press briefing last week:
"There was no situation where we did not allow people to get into the hospital. Every ambulance that wanted to get into the hospital could go every time. We did check the ambulances. The reason was that the hospital was used to hide highly wanted terrorists. On one occasion one of our doctors checked one of the ambulances. According to what the Palestinian doctor said, there was one severely sick person lying inside. And then we looked at him -- there wasn't a scratch on him, he just had an intravenous, just taped to his shirt, not even inserted in his veins. And this was one of the highly wanted terrorists...
"There were cases that the Palestinians asked for doctors, and their doctors did not want to come, either because it was dangerous or they just refused, and we treated them. We treated Palestinians -- a case of appendicitis, and we treated a case of leg wound and a wound in the neck -- some of them were on the list of people that we knew that fought against us.
"I must tell you about how the terrorists used people, used children. A few days after the battle ended, we saw a 6-year-old child with a little bag going in the camp. One of the soldiers asked him, "Listen, what do you have there in the bag?" and so he dropped it and ran away. The bag included three booby-traps. Six years old."
Zangen's full April 21 testimony is at:
The Los Angeles Times confirms that Israeli soldiers "arrested a 6-year-old boy ferrying three pipe bombs from one building to another."
Please monitor your local media to see how the Jenin situation is reported.
Below we present the worst British media atrocities:
===== THE GUARDIAN (UK) =====
In an editorial, "What really happened in Jenin camp?" the Guardian compares Israeli actions to September 11:
"Jenin camp looks like the scene of a crime. Its concrete rubble and tortured metal evokes another horror half a world away in New York, smaller in scale but every bit as repellent in its particulars, no less distressing, and every bit as man-made. Jenin smells like a crime. The stench of decaying flesh, of dead bodies left to rot or buried unabsolved under collapsed buildings greets those aid workers and reporters who manage to gain access...
"Jenin already has that aura of infamy that attaches to a crime of especial notoriety... like the Jews' Massada, [Jenin] could be the stuff of legend upon which dreams are built..." http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4395504,00.html
===== EVENING STANDARD =====
A.N. Wilson, a leading columnist at London's main newspaper, the Evening Standard, compared Israel to the Taliban, accused Israel of "the poisoning of water supplies" and wrote "we are talking here of massacre, and a cover-up, of genocide."
Wilson also tries to pit the European Christian community against Israel by accusing Israel of "the willful burning of several church buildings,' and by declaring: "Many young Muslims in Palestine are the children of Anglican Christians, educated at St George's Jerusalem, who felt that their parents' mild faith was not enough to fight the oppressor."
Then, before casually switching to write about how much money Catherine Zeta-Jones is paying her nanny, Wilson says: "Last week, we saw the Israeli troops destroy monuments in Nablus of ancient importance: the scene where Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman at the well. It is the equivalent of the Taliban destroying Buddhist sculpture."
===== THE INDEPENDENT =====
The Independent (UK) calls Jenin "a monstrous war crime," and takes at face value Palestinian propaganda about "mass executions" of unarmed Palestinians by "death and torture squads." The Independent compares these Palestinians to those disappeared in Argentina -- although informs readers elsewhere in the paper that the missing men have been found in detention.
The flavor of The Independent's reporting is reflected in its headlines from on April 15:
- "Survivors of Jenin creep home to see destruction"
- "Palestinian captives 'tortured and humiliated' at Israeli army base"
- "Ramallah Diary: Rampaging tank crushes a brief taste of freedom"
A day earlier (April 14), the Independent on Sunday's five news reports were headlined:
- "The camp that became a slaughterhouse"
- "Franciscans refuse to quit besieged birthplace of Christ"
- "Israel's bloody intransigence silences Bush"
- "The bloody evidence of the tragedy that is Jenin"
- "Israel's war of words gets dirty"
Read Phil Reeves' biased report from Jenin (“a monstrous war crime”):
Columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown writes (April 15):
"I would suggest that Ariel Sharon should be tried for crimes against humanity in Sabra and Shatila and Jenin and be damned for so debasing the profoundly important legacy of the Holocaust, which was meant to stop forever nations turning themselves into ethnic killing machines."
===== BRIGHT SPOT =====
By contrast, the American press was generally more balanced in reporting from Jenin.
T. Christian Miller of the LA Times writes that Palestinian "accounts, which could not be independently confirmed, painted a picture of a vicious house-to-house battle in which Israeli soldiers faced Palestinian gunmen intermixed with the camp's civilian population."
Washington Post correspondent Molly Moore wrote: "Interviews with residents inside the camp and international aid workers who were allowed here for the first time today indicated that no evidence has yet surfaced to support allegations by Palestinian groups and aid organizations of large-scale massacres or executions by Israeli troops."
One bright spot in British reporting was The Sun newspaper (London), which published a lengthy editorial headed "The Jewish faith is not an evil religion" (April 15). The Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch, is one of Europe's two highest circulation newspapers (with the German paper Bild).
The Sun editorial makes veiled reference to the anti-Semitism now rife elsewhere in the British and European media, some of it under the guise of anti-Israel reporting, and some of it blatantly anti-Semitic, such as the comments posted on the Internet chat rooms run by newspapers like The Independent and The Guardian.
The Sun states: "Israelis are scared to death. They have never truly trusted Britain -- and with some of the people we employ in the Foreign Office why the hell should they?" The Sun surmises that countries throughout Europe are still "in denial about murdering their entire Jewish population."
Read The Sun editorial at:
For more information on what really happened in Jenin, go to: "Jenin: The Big Lie" (from the National Review)