Jenin, Jenin

Mohammed Bakriby Vic Rosenthal

Operation Defensive Shield (March 29 – May 3, 2002) was carried out in response to a series of catastrophic terror attacks against Israelis. Several IDF soldiers who took part are now suing Israeli Arab filmmaker Mohammed Bakri for libeling them in his film “Jenin, Jenin”:

During the fighting in Jenin, Palestinian spokesmen, human rights organizations and foreign journalists accused Israel of conducting a civilian massacre. In the end, it emerged, according to Israeli figures, that 52 Palestinians were killed in the refugee camp, including 38 armed fighters and 14 civilians. Twenty-three IDF soldiers died in the fighting.

Basing itself mainly on interviews with Palestinians in the refugee camp after the fighting ended, but also on film clips, Bakri portrayed Israeli troops as committing a series of war crimes. Although he described the film as a documentary, he did not interview Israeli officials or give them an opportunity to refute the allegations contained in the film. — Jerusalem Post

The film was full of false testimonies, dishonestly edited and faked footage, allegations of events that never happened, and so forth. Like the ‘shooting’ of Mohammed al-Dura, “Jenin, Jenin” became a focal point of worldwide condemnation and fury at the “brutal massacre” that in fact did not take place.

Even after the UN investigated and agreed that the Israeli accounts of what took place were accurate, the blood libel did not go away. And “Jenin, Jenin” is still shown regularly around the world (it’s been shown several times here in Fresno, by CSU Fresno administrator Dr. Vida Samiian).

Here’s my personal connection: sometime after the film came out (and long after the facts about what actually happened in Jenin were known), my daughter met Bakri at a party in Tel Aviv. Bakri, an Israeli citizen who speaks perfect Hebrew, was asked if he actually believed that the his film was a true depiction of what had taken place.

His answer was something like this (unfortunately I have no direct quotation):

Yes, it is true. I’m an artist, not a historian, and the truth is that Israel is crushing my people and that’s what I depicted.

So, in perfect post-modern fashion, truth is whatever serves the artist’s political purposes. I will await the outcome of the trial with great interest.

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3 Responses to “Jenin, Jenin”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    Raphael Patai in his book on the ‘Arab Mind’ suggests that the idea of truth as we understand it is really foreign to discourse in the Arabic language world. The speaker says what he says in order to make the impression, or get the object he wants. Bakri is simply in the tradition of this. The nefariousness of his slanders of course give this another dimension.

  2. gsdmorris says:

    How can I contact you directly?
    gs don morris, ph.D.
    netanya, Israel
    resident also near shaver Lake