Israel Resource Review 12th November, 2002


Interview: with Michael Widlanski: Voice of Palestinian Reverts to pre-Oslo Orientation
Dr. Aaron Lerner
Director, IMRA

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 critical condition."

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 their escape."

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 attack".

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 audience:

  1. 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."

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 Wing Kibbutz?
David Bedein

Kibbutz Metzer: an "illegal settlement" under PLO death sentence for settlers

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, 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

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 . . . .

  1. Within Israel's 1948 lines . . . 5.5% answered affirmatively
  2. Within Israel's 1967 lines . . . 13% answered affirmatively
  3. Within both the 1948 and 1967 lines . . . 70.83% responded affirmatively
  4. 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 self-determination.

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