Jewish groups compile false charges on Jenin ‘massacre’
NEW YORK Nearly two months after human rights organizations, foreign governments, and media outlets accused Israel of perpetrating a massacre in the Jenin refugee camp, two US Jewish groups have released comprehensive reports detailing the false allegations that tarnished Israel's image and eyewitness accounts of what really happened during the eight-day battle.
The reports, published on Wednesday by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Anti-Defamation League, also call on the international community to set the record straight.
In the cover letter for a 150-page report submitted to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday, conference leaders called on Annan to publicize the true story of Israel's battle in Jenin when he presents an upcoming report to the General Assembly.
Earlier this month, the assembly passed a resolution calling for a comprehensive report on Israel's actions in Jenin and elsewhere in the West Bank after Annan disbanded a fact-finding team that was to be dispatched to the area. The report is pending.
The report, which includes published and unpublished eyewitness accounts by soldiers, doctors and others, details the deaths of less than 60, mostly armed men in Jenin, compared to the original charge made by the Palestinian leadership of 3,000 dead. The report also states that 110 buildings in Jenin were damaged during the IDF operation, out of more than 1,500 in the camp.
"As these first-hand accounts underscore, there is no limit to the libels, distortions, and fabrications against Israel, even when the facts are so clear to any honest observer," wrote conference chairman Mortimer Zuckerman and executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein in the cover letter.
"We hope the secretary-general will not allow his office or the UN to be subverted by extremist political pressures. A more useful study would be how the UN, the media, and many leaders became complicit in these horrendous charges against a member state seeking to defend its citizens and to fight terrorism in full compliance with the UN Charter," they wrote.
The ADL report, "Anatomy of Anti-Israel Incitement: Jenin, World Opinion, and the Massacre That Wasn't," charts the international community's reaction to Operation Defensive Shield. It includes excerpts from the media and statements from human rights and international groups prematurely condemning Israel.
Descriptions of the battle by Palestinians such as Islamic Jihad commander Abu Jandal, who told the Al-Jazeera that his compatriots "booby-trapped the camp elaborately, armed themselves with explosive belts and grenades, and enlisted women and children into the battle," are also included.
"Without any facts or evidence about what transpired in Jenin, international organizations, European governments, the United Nations, and some in the media rushed to condemn Israel and accuse its army of a 'massacre ' that, as it turned out, simply did not exist," said ADL national director Abraham Foxman. "We are waiting for them to set the record straight," he added.
The 30-page report, which is available at www.adl.org, also includes accounts of the battle from Israel's perspective, including IDF actions designed to minimize civilian casualties. A section on Israel's right, under international law, to conduct the operation is also featured.
"The tendency of groups and governments to speak prematurely and of the media to report those comments uncritically reminds us that in reporting the news, accuracy, freedom from bias, seeking context, and examining all sides is essential for everyone, especially those with voices that carry weight," the report concludes.
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