Jewish World Review May 3, 2002/ 21 Iyar, 5762

Charles Krauthammer

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Consumer Reports

Jenin: The Truth | "Jenin Camp Is a Scene of Devastation But Yields No Evidence of a Massacre."

-- Headline, front page,

The Washington Post, April 16.

"There is simply no evidence of a massacre."

-- Peter Bouckaert, senior

researcher, Human Rights Watch,

Jenin. Jerusalem Post, April 28.

"Holley told Agence France-Presse that he did not see 'any evidence of a massacre. The Israeli army was fighting against some desperate [Palestinian] fighters here.' "

-- Agence France-Presse,

quoting Maj. David Holley, British military

adviser to Amnesty International, April 28.

A massacre is the deliberate mass murder of the defenseless. The "Jenin massacre" is more than a fiction. It is a hoax. "Palestinian Authority allegations," reported the Boston Globe (April 29), ". . . appear to be crumbling under the weight of eyewitness accounts from Palestinian fighters who participated in the battle and camp residents who remained in their homes until the final hours of the fighting. . . . All said they were allowed to surrender or evacuate."

And yet for weeks the world has been seized with the question of the "Jenin massacre." The U.N. Security Council called emergency meetings. The secretary general appointed a special investigating committee (now disbanded). The European press published the most lurid allegations. To say nothing, of course, of al-Jazeera TV.

All this for a phantom massacre. Yet this same Middle East conflict yields no shortage of real massacres:

  • April 27: Adora, Palestinian gunmen enter residential quarters shooting everyone, including a 5-year-old girl shot through the head in her bed.

  • April 12: Jerusalem, suicide bombing at a bus stop, 6 murdered.

  • April 10: Yagor, suicide bombing on a bus, 8 murdered.

  • March 31: Haifa, suicide bombing in a restaurant, 15 murdered.

  • March 28: Eilon Moreh, shooting attack, 4 murdered.

  • March 27: Netanya, suicide bombing at a Passover seder, 28 murdered.

    These are massacres -- actual, recent massacres. Massacres for which the evidence is hard. Massacres for which the perpetrators claimed credit. Where was the Security Council? Where was the Kofi Annan commission? Where was the world?

The United Nations' excuse will be that these murders were perpetrated not by states but by groups. But this is nonsense. The Palestinian Authority is a recognized government. The links of its top leadership to these murders is precisely the kind of question that warrants investigation. Yet the very idea that the United Nations would investigate Palestinian massacres is absurd.

The fact that such an undertaking is unimaginable is what has made the past several months so deeply, despairingly troubling. The despair comes from the bewilderment of living in a world of monstrous moral inversion.

Take Jenin. What was the real story? That hand-to-hand, door-to-door combat, in an intensely built-up shantytown, among dozens of houses booby-trapped by Palestinian fighters, should have yielded somewhere between seven and 21 scattered civilian casualties is nothing less than astonishing. It testifies to the extraordinary scrupulousness of the Israeli army, which lost 23 soldiers in the battle, precisely because it did not want to cause the civilian casualties that come with aerial bombardment, as has happened everywhere from Grozny to Kabul. And yet Israel was investigated precisely for defending itself against massacres that warrant no investigation.

Palestinian apologists wave away this double standard with the magic mantra of "occupation."

More nonsense. Twenty-one months ago, Israel offered a total end to the occupation, ceding 100 percent of Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank to the first Palestinian state ever. The Palestinians turned that down and took up the suicide bomb. By the Orwellian logic of today, the Palestinians are justified in perpetrating one massacre after another to end an occupation that Israel offered to remove almost two years ago.

For the "international community," as embodied by the United Nations, such inverted moral logic is the norm. This is what it must have been like living in the false consciousness of Soviet communism, where everyone had to publicly and constantly pretend to believe the official lies, all the while knowing they were lies. This is what it must have been like living in the 1930s, as the necessities of appeasement created a gradual inversion of right and wrong -- the Czechs, for example, pilloried by official opinion in Britain and France for selfishly standing in the way of peace at Munich.

Churchill's great gift to civilization was not just that he rallied good against evil but also that he pierced a suffocating fog of self-deception by speaking truth to lies. Where is the Churchill of today, the official of any government, prepared to tell the United Nations that its frantic hunt for a phantom massacre by Jews -- while ignoring massacre after massacre of Jews -- is grotesque and perverse?

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