Ten Years Since Something That Never Happened: A Learning Moment for the Guardian
This is a guest post by Myrrh
[I submitted this to the Guardian as a commentary piece on April 4. On April 12 they confirmed that they will not be running it. Both Brian Whitaker, former Middle East Editor current CiF editor, and Harriet Sherwood, currently the Jerusalem correspondent, have informed me that there are no plans to revisit the Jenin issue or theGuardian’s coverage of it ten years ago. The readers editor also wrote me that he has no plan on revisiting the issue.]
For two full weeks in April of 2002, the Guardian ran wild with lurid tales of an Israeli massacre in the Palestinian city of Jenin on the West Bank — a massacre that never happened. The misrepresentations and outright fabrications have never been properly addressed in the ten ensuing years, as though the Guardian’s editors believe nothing more than some hasty reporting and bad sourcing happened. But the reportorial failings were far too systematic to be so dismissed, and until the Guardian conducts a thorough investigation of its own errors and publishes a detailed account to its readers, its integrity on Israel-Palestine will continue to be called into question.
First the facts: On the heels of a thirty-day Palestinian suicide bombing campaign in Israeli cities which included thirteen deadly attacks (imagine thirteen 7/7’s in one month), Israel embarked on a military offensive in the West Bank. The fiercest fighting in this offensive occurred in the refugee camp just outside the West Bank town of Jenin, the launching point for 30 Palestinian suicide bombers in the year and half previous (seven were caught before they could blow themselves up; the other 23 succeeded in carrying out their attacks). In this battle, which lasted less than a week, 23 Israeli soldiers were killed as well as 52 Palestinians, of whom at most 14 were civilians (there is some marginal dispute about that last figure).
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The same kind of lie was established in 2000 with Muhamed al Durah