Jenin. Ten Years Since Something That Never Happened: A Learning Moment for the Guardian

[While I read the Guardian everyday now, I wasn’t so “privileged” back during the Palestinian wave of terror known as the Second Intifada. While I did know that the Guardian made a morally incomprehensible comparison between Jenin (Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield) and 9/11, I didn’t realize that they never published an apology, even after the narrative of “Jenin Massacre” was definitively disproven. This essay at Harry’s Place, (which they submitted to, and was rejected by, editors at Comment is Free), thoroughly fisking the Guardian’s coverage of the battle of Jenin, is simply required reading for anyone wishing to understand their institutional anti—Israel journalistic malice   — AL]

For two full weeks in April of 2002, the Guardian ran wild with lurid tales of an Israeli massacre in the Palestinian city of Jenin on the West Bank — a massacre that never happened.  The misrepresentations and outright fabrications have never been properly addressed in the ten ensuing years, as though the Guardian’s editors believe nothing more than some hasty reporting and bad sourcing happened.  But the reportorial failings were far too systematic to be so dismissed, and until the Guardian conducts a thorough investigation of its own errors and publishes a detailed account to its readers, its integrity on Israel-Palestine will continue to be called into question.

First the facts: 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.  Seamus Milne assured readers on April 10 of the ‘futility’ of this military response, though with the benefit of hindsight we can clearly see this battle as the turning point in the struggle to end suicide terror on Israel’s streets.  Milne referred to ‘hundreds’ killed, ‘evidence of atrocities,’ and ‘state terror.’  Not to be outdone, Suzanne Goldenberg reported from Jenin’s ‘lunar landscape’ of ‘a silent wasteland, permeated with the stench of rotting corpses and cordite.’  She found ‘convincing accounts’ of summary executions, though let’s be honest and concede that it’s not generally difficult to convinceGoldenberg of Israeli villainy.  In the next day’s report from Jenin, a frustrated Goldenberg reported that the morgue in Jenin had ‘just 16 bodies’ after ‘only two bodies [were] plucked from the wreckage.’  This didn’t cause her to doubt for a moment that there were hundreds more buried beneath or to hesitate in reporting from a Palestinian source that bodies may have been transported ‘to a special zone in Israel.’  Brian Whitaker and Chris McGreal weighed in with their own equally tendentious and equally flawed reporting the following week.

Read the rest of the essay here.

7 replies »

  1. The Guardian’s role in this matter was utterly disgusting and has never been retracted other than acknowledgement of the UN report that the Arab

    death toll was 52, of whom an unidentifiable number were terrorists (“The UN report said 52 Palestinian deaths had been confirmed by April 18,

    the same death toll reported by Israel. The UN findings mirrored those of Human Rights Watch. Up to half the Palestinian casualties may have

    been civilians rather than armed fighters, it said, but it was impossible to determine a precise figure.”)

    By refusing to retract the reports, the Guardian is responsible for the continuing use of its name in references to the references to the so-called

    massacre, which, along with the Al Durrah libel, has been a staple of the Guardian’s defamations of Israel and anti-Israeli hatred in the Arab


    Whitaker and Goldenberg, in particular, should have been fired for their roles in inciting violence through their lies and exaggerations.Whitaker

    was writing from Jerusalem, and never went near Jenin. Goldenberg apparently tried to enter and was refused entry by Israel so just made up her

    reports, relying heavily on Saeeb Erekat’s hysterical claims of a massacre, sent to her and other media, notably CNN, by phone from Jericho (he

    was never in Jenin at the time, either). Goldenberg now acts as US environment correspondent of the Guardian and is based in Washington DC,

    and Whitaker, of course, continues his crusade on behalf Islam from Guardian HQ.

    I wrote about this at:

    “A search for the word “Jenin” on the Guardian’s World News section comes up with the almost unbelievable result of 56 pages

    (not articles – pages!) of snapshots of articles about Jenin. In an eerie run-up to the Mavi Marmara “massacre” (my quotation marks!) there is

    hardly a name from the Guardian anti-Israel stable missing among those writing articles – Brian Whitaker, Ian Black, Chris McGreal, Suzanne

    Goldenberg, Uri Avinery, Julian Borger, Ewen MacAskill, Peter Beaumont, Jonathan Cook and more. It was if a message went out – “If you want

    to keep your job, write something attacking Israel over Jenin”.

    When the Guardian’s contributors reported on Jenin they blindly accepted Saeb Erekat’s lies that hundreds of innocent civilians had been killed

    when Israel decided to clean out that terrorist nest after a string of horrific suicide bombings in 2001-2002. There were almost no examples of the

    word “massacre” being placed in quotation marks in their reports. Moreover, despite the evidence that emerged that the number of Arabs killed

    was in the tens, and most were terrorists who used their neighbors as human shields, the Guardian has never printed a retraction for this


  2. Six years later Rusbridger acknowledged that the Guardian’s reporting and editorials on the “jenin massacre” were “misjudgements”. Naturalyy he did it at a bookfair in Jerusalem – his apology has never been published in his paper itself – not in the printed and neither in the online edition. Publishing his acknowledgement of the pure and unadultered lies of its staffwriters could have caused a suicide epidemics among the Guardinistas.

  3. There was a great article about the Pallywood lie of a massacre in Jenin called Jenin: Massacring Truth
    A new documentary explores the damaging myth and underlying media bias against Israel.
    This is a must read to see the Media’s war against Israel.

  4. Also remember once the world saw the lies the Palestinians made up in Jenin in 02, the Pals started to have fake funerals of Palestinians they said were killed in Jenin by Israel. Suzanne Goldenberg tried her best to promote these lies.
    Watch this video from Jenin in 02 of fake funeral staged for the media to gain public sympathy for the Falestinians” until the “corpse” falls off and magically regains consciousness. A definite contender for Best Pallywood Video of the Year Award.

  5. One of the most famous events of the terror war the Palestinians started in 2000 was the lynching of two Israeli’s who got lost in Palestinian-controlled Ramallah on October 2000. A Polish and Italian film crew videotaped the lynching.
    Palestinian security forces made a vigorous effort to hunt down journalists with cameras and confiscate film and videotape. They were almost successful.
    A Polish television crew was surrounded by Palestinian security forces who beat them and took their film of the lynching. News crews from other countries had similar experiences.
    One Italian TV crew managed to capture the gruesome mob attack on film and send it to Rome, where it was turned over to other media outlets and replayed around the world.
    The world then saw the barbarians the Arabs were. That was the only visual evidence of the lynching available to television stations.

    But, in a sign of the fear instilled in foreign journalists, the representative in Jerusalem of RAI, Italian state television, Ricardo Cristiano, sent a letter of apology to Arafat in which he sought to assure the Palestinian Authority that his Italian station never would do such an act that could harm the Palestinians – indeed, he professed his own solidarity with the Palestinians. So much for objective and fearless reporting. Cristiano apparently feared being associated with the Italian TV crew whose footage of the lynching was broadcast worldwide. The apology was published in the official Palestinian daily, Al Hayat. This is whats its like for any journalists that tries to criticize the hate minded Palestinians who constantly glorify massacres of Israeli civilians. Palmediawatch has documented this over and over.
    In 2002 after dozens of homicide bombings had massacred tons of Israelis , Israel went into Jenin where the Homicide bombers were going from to stop the mass murdering Palestinians.