The Battle of Jenin was waged between April 1-11 2002. Recently, Myrrh, at Harry’s Place, took note of that anniversary by surveying the historically malicious and misinformative coverage of the conflict by England’s Guardian. But the Guardian‘s campaign of hysterical distortion constituted only a part, if a prominent one, of a campaign of lies and anti-Israel calumny that continues to this day.
On the heels of a thirty-day Palestinian suicide bombing campaign in Israeli cities which included thirteen deadly attacks (imagine thirteen 7/7’s in one month), Israel embarked on a military offensive in the West Bank. The fiercest fighting in this offensive occurred in the refugee camp just outside the West Bank town of Jenin, the launching point for 30 Palestinian suicide bombers in the year and half previous (seven were caught before they could blow themselves up; the other 23 succeeded in carrying out their attacks). In this battle, which lasted less than a week, 23 Israeli soldiers were killed as well as 52 Palestinians, of whom at most 14 were civilians (there is some marginal dispute about that last figure).
There was nothing extraordinary in this battle or in these numbers. Looking back, what is extraordinary is that Ariel Sharon’s Israel sat through 18 months of Palestinian suicide terror before embarking on even this military offensive.
Nonetheless, led by the Guardian, among many other online and ideologically antagonistic sources, the charge became current, instigated by the Palestinians, and was quickly, uncritically, because willingly, accepted that Israeli Defense Forces had perpetrated a massacre in which hundreds, even thousands of Palestinians had been wantonly murdered amid indiscriminate destruction of the camp.
In fact, as aerial shots later showed, the pictures of ostensibly widespread destruction in Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp were all of the same tiny area within the camp which had been the scene of a tactically brilliant ambush — on the part of the Palestinians. Thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed when a series of booby-trapped buildings collapsed on them. It was the IDF’s deadliest engagement of the month-long offensive,
Crucial to what occurred, and completely contrary to the historic lie, was the IDF’s decision specifically to seek to avoid the massive death toll that an air campaign would produce and to incur the risk of greater casualties itself in order to avoid it. Thabet Mardawi, a leading Islamic Jihad fighter in the battle, who reported having himself killed two of the IDF soldiers, later acknowledged of the Israeli decision, from an Israeli prison,
“It was like hunting … like being given a prize. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the soldiers,” he said. “The Israelis knew that any soldier who went into the camp like that was going to get killed.” He added: “I’ve been waiting for a moment like that for years.”
It was this incident [of the ambush of the IDF soldiers] that made many Israelis question the wisdom of endangering so many ground forces rather than just relying on air power. This would hardly be unprecedented. And we don’t need to look to the behaviour of countries that Israel would never want to be compared to. NATO fought two wars from the air — over Serbia in 1999 and Libya last year —with lopsided results. Very lopsided. Zero combat losses for NATO, roughly one thousand enemy combatants killed and slightly more than a thousand civilians as well.
A different kind of comparison is found in these battles:
In the two Fallujah battles, US-UK forces lost 126 men and killed nearly 1400 armed militants and about 900 civilians; in Jenin, recall, the respective numbers were 23 IDF killed, 38 Palestinian militants, and 14 civilians. Though both Fallujah battles were covered extensively and critically, and though the second one involved troops from the UK, and though it was in a war that this paper [the Guardian] viewed dimly, the number of times the words ‘massacre’ or ‘war crime’ appeared in its coverage was exactly zero (of if you prefer numbers: 0).
The Wikipedia account of the battle, and the truths of it, is deeply documented, and unlike other pages devoted to elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that are unsurprisingly disputed, it goes uncontradicted. Ten years later, Jenin is only, perhaps, the most famous among the decade and more of lies that continue to be fostered against Israel. It is the most widespread propaganda war of malign misinformation ever waged against a free and democratic state outside of that, in the twentieth century, of the Marxist totalitarian states, and their foolish Western sympathizers, against the democratic West, and is the lineal continuation of that war.
- Islamic Jihad Returns to Jenin (israelnationalnews.com)
- The Middle East Media Sampler 04/12/2012: Lessons of Jenin Massacre Libel (ifaynsh.wordpress.com)
- “Israel Firster”: Anatomy of a Smear (sadredearth.com)
- Existential Threats and Slanted Arguments (sadredearth.com)
- Framing Israel (sadredearth.com)
- Thinking Through the Iranian Dilemma (sadredearth.com)
- The Internationalist Cover for Anti-Semitism (sadredearth.com)
- “How the Left Turned Against the Jews” (sadredearth.com)
- The Unsound Judgment of Peter Beinart (sadredearth.com)
- What Can “Free” Palestine (sadredearth.com)