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
See Time magazine’s article on the bitter, cruel fighting that took place in Jenin:
===== QUESTIONS TO ASK =====
Besides the fact that the credibility of Palestian “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?
HonestReporting encourages members to monitor their local media for how the Jenin situation is reported.
Below we present the worst British media atrocities:
Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.
===== 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.”