Telling Tales

What is a “Massacre”?

“The wanton or savage killing of large numbers of people, as in battle. The act or an instance of killing a large number of humans indiscriminately and cruelly” says the dictionary, pedantically.

Ten years ago this month, the media, including the Guardian and the BBC, reported a fairy tale. A massacre had taken place in the Palestinian city of Jenin in the West bank.

This eventually proved to be a falsehood, but rather than retracting the accusation, the Guardian insinuated that Israel’s detailed refutations were merely part of the Zionist propaganda machine.  The Guardian had their story, and they were sticking with it; they stuck to their guns, so to speak.

An article by ‘Myrrh’ in Harry’s Place and cross-posted on CiF Watch examines this example of malicious and shoddy journalistic malpractice, perpetrated way back in April 2002 and still unacknowledged.   Evidently, ten years on they’re still unrepentant; the article was submitted to the Guardian but they declined to publish it.

For about eighteen months during the spring of 2002 there was a sustained campaign of Palestinian suicide attacks, and many Israelis were killed. Eventually a retaliatory battle took place in the Jenin refugee camp from which most of the suicide attacks had emerged. After a few days 23 Israeli solders, and 52 Palestinians, 14 of whom were allegedly civilians, had been killed.

The Guardian’s reports of hundreds of Palestinian deaths were plain wrong. They were simply regurgitating fanciful claims emanating from the depths of a maudlin Palestinian imagination.

The Guardian deliberately uses emotive  language to stir up anti-Israel passion.

“‘Jenin camp looks like the scene of a crime’; ‘Jenin smells like a crime’; ‘Jenin feels like a crime’;”

When they couldn’t find many bodies, they said hundreds were probably buried in the rubble.

“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.” says Myrrh.

Booby traps  and ambushes severely test the IDF’s resolve to limit the collateral damage associated with air power. When they send in and thus endanger troops on the ground, the BBC’s reporting neither reflects nor explores Israel’s demonstrable humanitarian concerns.

Some of the comments below the line at Harry’s Place cite the BBC as well as the Guardian:

“The BBC came out with the same stories about the “massacre”. Their reports included claims of Israeli soldiers doing things like deliberately forcing a wheelchair-bound man into his house then bulldozing it on top of him.” says one comment. Another refers to this article .

Here’s James Naughtie talking to James Reynolds about the possibility of an investigation by the UN.

While the BBC eventually reported that the UN’s findings corroborated Israel’s claims, they  concentrated instead on Palestinian victimhood.

Jeremy Cooke knows about the UN’s findings, but he won’t let go of the approved scenario. Israeli brutality and Palestinian victimhood.

And here’s Martin Asser empathising with the problems encountered by the Palestinian commuter.  And celebrity kidnapee Alan Johnston recounting assorted heresay from various Palestinians, namely allegations of torture, and being made to take some of their clothes off.

These articles resemble malicious gossip between bored pub philosophers with nothing better to do than egg each other on till they’ve whipped each other up into mutual states of incandescent indignation. Unlike the BBC, the Guardian isn’t hobbled by a charter requiring impartiality at all times, or failing that, balance over-all. The BBC is obliged to keep its prejudices under the counter in plain packaging, but it still manages to get the message across by emoting, omission and innuendo.

Ten years on and much water has passed under the bridge. The aftermath of the Arab Spring, the rise of Islamism throughout the Arab World, the overt threats against Israel from the Ayatollahs and Mr. Ahmadinejad, manifestations of increasing Muslim antisemitism here in the UK. These developments have exposed an unpalatable reality loud and clear and have offered important lessons we obstinately refuse to learn. We won’t make the simple connection leading to the obvious conclusion so we can’t confront what truly lies behind the Israel/Palestine conflict. Lies being the operative word.

And what about accountability from the media. Our trusted National broadcaster habitually passing on unverified eyewitness reports from notoriously  fanciful and unreliable sources without identifying them as such is reckless and irresponsible. Without a subsequent and prominent mea culpa it’s destructive and dangerous.

The damage has been done. The impression has been implanted, and let’s face it, without the long overdue acknowledgements, revisions and apologies the armchair experts will forever be none the wiser.

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15 Responses to Telling Tales

  1. Cassandra King says:

    Since when did reality and fact checking and error investigation ever stop the BBC and its print arm the guardian from repeating blood libels and false accusations?

    On a related topic, when an islamist says the word “kuffar’ on the BBC it is translated as “they”. This morning on BBC toady yet another example of this self censorship on behalf of islam occurred. The word kuffar is a highly derogatory word for ‘dirty unbelievers’ and it somehow became cleansed in the BBC translation into “they”, funny that eh?

    The BBC, working hard on behalf of islamofascism every day, its what we do.


  2. Jack says:

    This story along with the Muhammad al-Durrah shooting that did not happen the Gaza beach bombing the war against Hizbollah in 2006 and and Hamas 2009..
    Lies upon lies upon lies broadcast by the BBC and printed by the Guardian
    I call it the modern day blood libel


  3. john in cheshire says:

    Where’s jim dandy’s observations on this matter?


    • ltwf 1964 says:

      we await with baited breath

      even dezzie or scotty girl????


      thought not


      • Jim Dandy says:

        I think the Jenin coverage in the Guardian was awful and pure propaganda.

        The bbc’s coverage at the time was pretty biased, although it dropped the term ‘massacre’ fairly swiftly as far as I can tell.

        There’s a forensic analysis if the bbc’s coverage here (albeit from one perspective):


        • Sue says:

          “albeit from one perspective”
          The rational one.


        • Guest Who says:

          ‘The bbc’s coverage at the time was pretty biased, although it dropped the term ‘massacre’ fairly swiftly as far as I can tell.’
          Fair do’s on the concession front.
          Any thoughts on a £4Bpa, professional, impartial ‘news’ broadcaster using a term like ‘massacre’ at all, before ‘dropping it’?
          Maybe those pesky folk asking questions of them for once got heard?


  4. Biodegradable says:

    An excellent piece by Chas Newkey-Burden, Stop yelling at Israel.


  5. Pah says:

    They constantly make shit up and then get their tame ‘comedians’ to impress it into folk-memory.
    Remember the ‘massacre’ at a Lebanese girls school (imagine an Islamic girls school – Allah knows what the poppets are taught there – self circumcision and how to hate perhaps?) That was supposedly the work of Israelis and then Christians when the mud wouldn’t stick.
    Did the Israelis really murder a load of pre-teen Lebanese girls. No. Unlike this incident which is never mentioned.

    The BBC needs prosecuting for inciting racial hatred. Let’s fuck ’em with their own laws.


  6. Span Ows says:

    It has been repeated since then with the crazy Qana affair. Unbelievable media corruption and misinformation:

    “Even now, it seems bizarre labelling the scene of what is variously described as a “disaster” and a “massacre” as a “set”


  7. johnnythefish says:

    Non-related, but try this for an Orwellian re-write (a bit long-winded, but stick with it)…


  8. Craig says:

    A well-researched and well-written piece, Sue. Thanks.

    Following your lead, it is striking that BBC Online published article after article on the ‘massacre’ throughout 2002 until the UN said ‘There was no massacre.’

    Then that was it, nothing ever again, no post-match ‘analysis’ to examine where the earlier reporting had gone wrong, silence.

    Oh, except for a report from the day after the U.N. verdict where some Hamas apologist carries on regardless with the lies about Jenin.

    As you say, a false impression left forever in BBC readers’ heads (unless they just happened to read a BBC website’s report on 1.8.2002.)


  9. TrueToo says:

    Yes, Jenin, with Saeb Erakat yelling that 500 Palestinians had been massacred and the lefty media hanging on his every word.

    That Second Intifada was a grim period indeed for Israel. I recall being astounded at the callous indifference of the lefty media to the savage murders of Israeli men, women and children, with the BBC as indifferent as any of them.

    David Horowitz, past editor of the Jerusalem Report, Jerusalem Post and now editor of the new Times of Israel, confronted a CNN newsreader with a passionate attack on the bias of the news media during the Palestinian killing spree. Dumbfounded, the CNN guy could only indicate his agreement:


  10. Leftie-Loather says:

    Excellent B-BBC article!

    Guardian?! ..Of what exactly? I wouldn’t even wipe and insult my arse with the thing. The Israeli government should sue it every time it bullshits.