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Jenin, Jenin….whose Jenin?

November 29, 2007

In April 2002, the Israeli Defence Forces mounted a major operation in the PA-administered West Bank town of Jenin, identified by the IDF as the major fountainhead of the wave of terrorist suicide bombers then infiltrating Israeli territory and killing scores of Israeli nationals. Before long, the western (and Middle Eastern) media were full of horror stories about the operation, including reports of hundreds of innocents deliberately killed by the IDF. “Genocide” was a term freely employed by local journalists (mainly Palestinian stringers), and repeated uncritically in the MSM.

What actually happened back then was hotly contested at the time, and has been ever since. Eventually, a report by a UN investigating team found that only 56 Palestinians had been killed in fierce street fighting, and 23 Israeli soldiers.

In this connection, there was an interesting report yesterday on YNet:

Reservists to receive compensation for ‘Jenin Jenin’ screening

Tel Aviv, Jerusalem cinematheques to pay NIS 40,000 to five IDF reservists who claimed screening of contentious documentary about Operation Defensive Shield in West Bank town offended them

Yoram Yarkoni

Published: 11.26.07, 10:11 / Israel Culture

Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv cinematheques will pay NIS 40,000 in restitution to five IDF reservists who were offended by the screening of the contentious film “Jenin Jenin”. The reservists maintained that the film, in which actor and director Mohammed Bakri depicts IDF excursions into Gaza during Operation Defensive Shield, is defamatory and slanderous.

First screened in 2002, the documentary “Jenin Jenin” asserts that the IDF committed atrocious war crimes and deliberately slaughtered innocent civilians during Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank town. Following the screening, the reservists filed suit for defamation against both Bakri and the cinematheques that screened his films to the tune of NIS 2.5 million.

CAMERA critiques the film here, and compares it with the counter-narrative described in The Road to Jenin.

Jenin, Jenin‘s maker, Mohammed Bakri, lauds his own film thus:

I’m proud that justice was done and the truth came to light,” filmmaker Mohamed Bakri exulted in November 2003 when the Israeli Supreme Court reversed a ban on his controversial documentary Jenin, Jenin. “Every truth has two sides–our side and your side–and the two truths are one big truth.”

Ah-ha — “the accidental post-modernist”.

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Here are the “two truths”. You decide. I’ve already made up my mind, of course.

Jenin, Jenin

The Road to Jenin

And finally, a footnote from Richard Landes, of Augean Stables and Second Draft fame: The Living Dead — Resurrection in Palestine. This footage of a funeral in Jenin involving an over-active “corpse” was taken by an IDF surveillance drone.

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There is much that needs to be said about the role of the media in situations such as at Jenin — and, even more crucially, Iraq. Fortunately, Yankee Wombat has said it far better than I could.

I think the intentional creation of footage – real or faked – by our enemies to sell to our media is possible only because our media is open to it. One vector is the endless appetite of TV for dramatic footage to maximize the emotional impact of their coverage. Another is the general disaffection of our press with the goals of our government and military.’

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