|Israel Resource Review
||12th November, 2002
Interview: with Michael
Widlanski: Voice of Palestinian Reverts to pre-Oslo
Dr. Aaron Lerner
Michael Widlanski is an expert in the Arab media who is now completing his
PHD on the subject of the Palestinian Authority Broadcasting system. He
also lectures at the Rothberg School of the Hebrew University.
IMRA interviewed Widlanski, in English, on 11 November:
IMRA: Israel Television Channel One's Arab Affairs Correspondent Oded Granot
reported on Mabat tonight that the PA was against the murderous attack at
Kibbutz Metzer. In contrast, Channel Two Arab Affairs Correspondent Ehud Ya'
ari, ridiculed Arafat's announcement of an investigation - noting that he
did not call for the arrest of the perpetrators - or even their being barred
from his Fatah. How do you see the situation?
Widlanski: This morning we got proof again that Arafat has basically
reverted to the pre-Oslo model of Yasser Arafat. His Voice of Palestine
radio station - his official radio station - opened up its news this morning
with two items: First the heroic martyrdom of two citizens who were blown up
in their car North of Tulkarem. The occupation forces claim that they were
about to carry out an operation."
Pay attention to that first item. It refers to the "heroic martyrdom of two
citizens" and "they were about to carry out an operation."
In other words people who were about to carry out a suicide attack inside
Israel are referred to as "citizens" and "they were heroically martyred".
The second item is the Kibbutz Metzer item: "The Brigades of the Martyrs of
Al Aqsa kill five Israelis in an armed attacked on the colony of Metzer."
The "colony". The term they use in Arabic is "musta'amara", which is a very
very denigrating term. It is a term that is even worse than the term
"musteltanau" which means settlement. It is a term that is not used
commonly in Arab parlance.
This announcement was read by the senior anchor of Voice of Palestine
himself, Nizar al-Ghul, opening up the morning news.
This is a very significant fact. It comes less than a week after the attack
on Kfar Sava - also inside the Green Line. Then also there was no
condemnation. Instead, Arafat's personal spokesman, Nabil Abu Rodeina, was
on radio and he said "all of this is the fault of the Israelis".
There was not a word of condemnation. Not a word of restraint. Not a word
of disapproval. It wasn't even termed "counterproductive".
Now later in this morning's news show, at 7:40 in the morning, Nizar al-Ghul
continued with a commentary and this is what he said:
"Well, dear listeners, according to Israeli sources the infiltration
operation occurred Sunday night in the village of Awanea, what the Israelis
call Kibbutz Metzer, leaving five people dead. According to Israeli
sources, the operation took place at around 11:00 p.m. as two armed men
infiltrated into the kibbutz. After the event the spokesman for the Al Aqsa
Martyr's Brigade which belongs to the Fatah movement took responsibility for
the operation which left five dead and eleven wounded - three of them in
IMRA: That's to say that in their own broadcast they made the connection
between the Al Aqsa Brigade and Fatah clear.
Widlanski: Absolutely. They were practically bragging about it.
Listen to the last line: "Those who carried out the operation made good
In other words, they were listing the Israeli casualties - even more than
really occurred - and they were counting them as a real operation.
Now what's interesting about this is the woman reading the 10 minute news
summary on the 8 a.m. newsreel (that is the big news of the day -remember we
are in the middle of Ramadan now so the big news program is at 8 a.m. rather
than 7 a.m.) uses the identical language as the previous reports.
She refers to the "operation" (not "terrorist attack" - nothing like that)
"at the Metzer colony". She also refers to it as "hujoum musaleh" - "armed
The language they are using is the language of what the Palestinians have
always called the armed struggle.
Basically Arafat has gone beyond, through his people in Voice of Palestine
(and they couldn't be doing this on their own), even what so-called
"moderate" Hani al Hassan said recently when he declared that attacking Jews
beyond the Green Line was fine.
In fact, in the 8 a.m. report they said that five "amustamaline" - five
"colonists" were killed. That is to say that if you are killed you are ipso
facto a devil.
This is basically a return to pre-1993 rhetoric and it should give a lot of
people cause to worry because it is showing an inverse reaction because as
Israel and the United States loosen the restraints on Arafat and actually
give him money he actually gets worse.
IMRA: What kind of control is there on Voice of Palestine Broadcasts?
Widlanski: Very tight. Arafat controls all the vetting of the people in the
station. If there is any doubt about how to cover something they ignore it
for a while and wait for official instruction.
Interview conducted by:
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA
(Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax (+972-3) 725-5730
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Seven Lies About Jenin
Dr. David Sangan, M.D.
Special to Maariv
I watched Muhammad Bakri's film Jenin, Jenin in a limited forum, with
Jerusalem Cinematheque Director Leah Van Leer and several journalists.
After the private screening, I responded and indicated each lie and lack of
credibility. One of those present at the screening was outraged: "If you
don't accept the facts in the film, you apparently don't understand
anything; how can you be a doctor?"
For a moment, I forgot that I had been in Jenin last April, serving as a
regional brigade doctor, while this viewer had, at best, been fed on rumors.
Bakri expertly weaves together lies and half-truths until it becomes very
difficult not to be seduced by the distorted picture he creates.
I did not succeed in convincing the Cinematheque management to cancel the
screening. I was told that the pictures of destroyed homes were authentic
and that there was, therefore, truth in the film, and that the film would be
shown around the world in any case. Even so, I was invited to its premiere
screening in Jerusalem and I arrived in order to explain my position to the
audience. Following are several points that I wished to raise to the
- Dr. Abu Riali, director of the hospital in Jenin, claims in the film that
the western wing of the hospital was shelled and destroyed and that the IDF
knowingly hit the hospital's water and power supplies. There never was any
such wing and in any case, no part of the hospital was either shelled or
blown up. IDF soldiers took care not to enter its grounds even though we
knew that it was serving as a refuge for several wanted fugitives. We
guarded the water, electricity and oxygen supplies to the hospital all
throughout the fighting and assisted in setting up an emergency generator
after the city's electrical system was damaged. Bakri himself is seen in
the film wandering the hospital's clean and well-kept corridors, but not in
the blown up wing. I met him outside the theater and asked him if he had
visited the western wing. At first he said no, then he corrected himself
and said, "You remember one moment in the film with shattered glass - it was
from there." It is important to point out that this Abu Riali is one of the
"authorized sources" for the claim of a "massacre." At the beginning of the
operation, he was interviewed on Al-Jazeera television and spoke of,
"thousands of victims."
- Another impressive part of the film is the interview with a male
75-year-old Jenin resident who mumbles and cries and tells how he was taken
out of his bed in the middle of the night, shot in the hand, and after he
failed to obey the soldiers' command to get up, was shot again in the foot.
I met this very same old man as he was brought to me after an operation to
clear one of the Hamas cells' houses in the refugee camp. He had indeed
been lightly injured in the hand and was suffering from a minor scratch on
the foot, but certainly not as the result of a bullet. IDF soldiers
transferred him to a secure station that had been set up to treat wounded
and there he was treated by me, among others. One of the military doctors
identified diagnosed a heart problem. We suggested that he be transferred
immediately to Haemek Hospital in Afula for treatment. He asked to be
treated at the hospital in Jenin since he did not speak Hebrew. After the
hospital refused to admit him, we transferred him to Afula and he stayed
there for three days in the internal medicine department for treatment of
his heart problems and the anemia that he suffered from as a result of
another chronic illness.
- Another person who was interviewed spoke about a baby who suffered a
chest wound from a bullet that entered through his chest and exited his
body, creating a hole in his back. According to the film the baby died
after IDF soldiers prevented his evacuation to hospital. A baby's body with
this type of injury has never been found. Moreover, such an injury would
have been fatal, and evacuation would not have saved his life. What is this
baby's name? Where did his body disappear to?
- The same person interviewed also told how, using his finger, he opened
the baby's airway in his neck after he was injured.
Again, a complete lie. Such an action cannot be carried out with a finger.
This "witness" adds that tanks ran over living people many times until they
were completely crushed - this never happened and is imaginary.
- The film mentions a mass gravesite that IDF soldiers dug for Palestinian
dead. Every international organization that investigated the matter concur
that there were 52 Palestinian dead in Jenin, and that all the bodies were
returned to the Palestinians for burial. Bakri does not bother to show the
supposed location of this mass gravesite.
- Israeli planes that supposedly bombed the city are mentioned in the film.
There were no such planes. In order to prevent civilian casualties, only
focused helicopter fire was used.
- It is interesting to note that Bakri was not present in Jenin at the time
of the operation, and only arrived two weeks after it was completed. In
pictures shot at the site in the center of Jenin, the damage appears much
larger than it was in actual fact, and the martyrs' pictures and jihad
slogans - which had been present at the time of the IDF military operation -
had disappeared from the walls of houses. The film systematically and
repeatedly uses manipulative pictures of tanks taken in other locations,
artificially placing them next to pictures of Palestinian children.
In general, this is a vulgar, but extremely well done, work of manipulation.
At the conclusion of the film, hundreds of viewers gave Bakri and the film's
editor a standing ovation. Bakri asked the audience if there were any
questions. I presented myself, I went up to the stage and began to
systematically list the lies and inaccuracies in the film.
At first there were whispers in the audience, and later scornful calls, and
I was labeled a "murderer," "war criminal" etc. I had barely succeeded in
finishing my second point when a man in the audience aggressively came up on
stage and tried to take the microphone out of my hand. I decided not to be
dragged into violence. I allowed him to take the microphone and left the
stage. I was surprised that only a few people stood up for my right to free
speech and free expression. I was shocked that the audience was unwilling
to hear the facts from someone who had physically been there.
It was difficult for me as a person, as a father and a doctor to hear calls
of "murderer" from my people. I said that I did not kill anyone. But the
calls became more heated, immense hatred was directed towards me. It left
me with a hard feeling that has not subsided. I am not sorry that I went to
the Cinematheque that evening. I am certain that in any case there were
people who heard my doubts, and that this changed a small amount of their
feelings towards the "facts" they saw. I am sure there were other people
who were shocked at the intolerance demonstrated by the audience, but even
so, it is hard for me [to accept] that they were the silent minority.
Allow me to say what I was unable to say to those people that evening. I am
proud that I was part of this excellent and ethical force that operated in
Jenin, regular army soldiers and reservists with motivation and a fighting
spirit, who went to destroy the terrorist infrastructure in its capital.
Many suicide-bombers came from Jenin, and were responsible for the murder of
the elderly, women and children on our streets. I am proud that we were
there, that we fought, and I also am proud of the morality of the battle.
The camp was not bombed from the air in order to prevent innocent civilian
casualties, and artillery was not used even though we knew about specific
areas in the [refugee] camp where terrorists were holing up. IDF soldiers
fought against terrorists, and terrorists only. Before destroying a
building where terrorist fire against our soldiers had originated from, as
many warnings as could be allowed, were given, so that the people could
leave without injury. The medical team administered medical aid to all
casualties, even if they had Hamas tattoos on their hands. At no point was
any person refused medical treatment.
This battle, heroic on one hand and ethical on the other, took a heavy toll
from the best of our fighters! We who had to be there - the soldiers that
fell there, their families and the IDF - do not deserve that Muhammad Bakri
should incite the world to murder and hatred at our expense.
See What happened in Jenin? at
This piece ran in Maariv, November 8, 2002
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Why would the PLO attack a Left
Kibbutz Metzer: an "illegal settlement" under PLO death sentence for
On November 12, 2002, a Fateh terorrist infiltrated the left wing Shomer HaTzair Kibbutz Metzer, which had made a name for itself in the Israeli peace movement and in Arab-Jewish dialogue.
The Fatah terrorist murdered the kibbutz secretary, a woman school teacher along with a mother and her two little boys.
The country was stunned.
Why would the PLO attack a left wing Israeli kibbutz?
The answer was not long in coming.
The attack on Kibbutz Metzer was followed by the news item on
official PBC radio the next morning at 7:30 a.m. that celebrated
"an attack on an illegal settlement colony in which five illegal
colonial settlers were killed".
The Fatah web site, located
at www.fatehorg.org, immediately
ascribed credit to the Fatah for the attack on the "illegal
settlement". "This was a heroic attack. We will continue such
attacks until all settlements on our conquered territory are
liberated" (Kibbutz Metzer was founded in 1952 on lands that
belonged to an Arab village that was abandoned during the 1948
war. Kibbutz Metzer therefore appears on the map of what the PLO
defines as "illegal settlements" that were founded after 1948)
All day long, the Arabic media of the PA and the Fatah blared sounds of rejoicing. In October 1993, The Fatah and the PA declared a death sentence for illegal settlers in illegal settlements, and the
sentence was carried out once again.
The PLO defines the Jewish communities that replaced 531 Arab villages in 1948 as "illegal Jewish settlements".
The PBC radio refers to the 144 Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Katif only as "settlements", since none of the 144 Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria or Katif overran any Arab village.
The maps of illegal settlements provided by the PA at target only the Jewish settlements that "overran" Arab villages from 1948, with no mention of the Jewish settlements in.Judea and Samaria. These maps appear on all the PA website at www.pba-palestine.org
Israel Resource News Agency alerted the visiting media in
Israel to listen to PBC radio and to access the Fatah web site.
Yet in the 12 hours that followed the Metzer murders, not one news
agency reported on the PBC or the Fatah web site
The PLO PR machine, orchestrated by Mr. Edward Abington, former US consul and current PLO lobbyist in Washington, DC, worked overtime, and flooded the foreign and even the Israeli media with condemnations of the murders at Kibbutz Metzer, to make it seem like their was universal Palestinian Arab revulsion from the murders.
The official PBC Radio operates out of Arafat's Mukatta Headquarters under the direct editorial control of Arafat.
And how does Fatah get its funding?
Documents seized by the Israel Defence Forces from Arafat's Mukkatta which have been verified by British intelligence and publicized by HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH show that the funding for Fatah terror comes from 5% fee that is attached to all PA salaries paid by the European Union. Yet EU
Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten declared this week that the EU would make not make any changes in the funding of the PA.
Sancho Javier, spokesman for Migeul Morantinous , middle east envoy of the
European Commission delegation to the middle east peace process, was asked
to comment on the PBC and Fatah endorsement of the murders at Kibbutz Metzer.
Javier said that he relied on what spokesmen of the PA were telling him,
which is that the PA condemned the attack. When asked if the European Commission was following the PBC and Fatah endorsement of the attacks on
the official PBC radio and the official website of the Fatah, Javier
responded by saying that "The European Commission does not have the
capacity to do that. We have no way of knowing what they are telling their people in Arabic"
The time has come to provide the European Commision with a transistor
radio, an internet connection and an Arabic translator.
Within hours of the attack on Kibbutz Metzer, the Fateh launched an interactive poll in which it asked questions with the following results:
"Do you favor martyrdom attacks . . . .
- Within Israel's 1948 lines . . . 5.5% answered affirmatively
- Within Israel's 1967 lines . . . 13% answered affirmatively
- Within both the 1948 and 1967 lines . . . 70.83% responded affirmatively
- Not in favor of any martyrdom attacks . . . 10.19% responded affirmatively
The fateh poll can be accessed at:
Fatah has given a new meaning to the concept of Palestinian
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