Jenin, Jenin is a fraudulent propaganda film produced by an Israeli-Arab actor named Mohammed Bakri. The film purports to be a documentary about an unprovoked Israeli massacre of Palestinians, alleged to have occurred in the West Bank town of Jenin in April 2002. The funding for this production was provided, in part, by the Palestinian Authority — most notably Yasser Abed Rabbo, who served as Palestinian Minister of Culture & Information and was a member of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat‘s executive committee.
The film characterizes Jenin as a “refugee camp,” but it is in fact a city that has long served as a hiding place and breeding ground for terrorists whose objective is to murder Israelis. Even the Palestinian Authority police force was afraid to enter this perilous area during the time period whose events the film purports to chronicle. Besides various armed individual terrorists — such as members of Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Hamas — Jenin housed many of the bomb-making factories where jihadists obtained their lethal cargoes.
As of April 2002, Jenin was not occupied by any Israeli troops; Israel had withdrawn its entire military presence from the area in 1996 as a gesture of goodwill, in hopes that the Palestinians would respond by discontinuing their use of the city as a terrorist base. But this was not to be; Israeli sources estimated that one-fourth of all Palestinian suicide bombers who had attacked Jews since the start of the Second Intifada (in the fall of 2000) hailed from Jenin.
In April 2002 a suicide bomber from Jenin blew up a hotel in Netanya where Israelis were celebrating Passover, killing 29 people and maiming many more. Following this incident, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) went into Jenin to aggressively clean out the bomb factories. Yet Jenin, Jenin makes no mention of the Passover Massacre. To an uninformed viewer of this film, Jenin would appear to have been a place where peaceful Arab residents were suddenly and inexplicably assaulted by Jews who wanted to deprive them of their homeland. It should be noted that in an effort to most effectively incite the passions of Arab audiences, the word “Jew” is used consistently throughout this film, rather than “Israeli” or the common euphemism “Zionist.”
Jenin, Jenin opens with a scene showing an elderly, hospitalized Arab man with a bandaged hand and foot, who claims that Israeli soldiers had first shot him in the hand and then, when he protested, shot him in the foot as well. But this man is lying. He was in fact treated by an IDF doctor in Jenin, and his wounds were not bullet wounds; nor were they caused by activities in any way related to the battle. They were not even inflicted by Israeli soldiers. It is, in short, a staged scene. The rest of the film similarly consists of Palestinians claiming events and atrocities that did not occur.
For example, numerous “eyewitnesses” in the film tell tales of women being raped, of parents being stripped naked and summarily executed, and of their children thereafter being butchered as well. Others report that Israeli soldiers went into Palestinians’ kitchens and urinated into cooking pots. Another claims that the Israelis “did not leave one building standing.” Another reports that Israeli tanks ran over and crushed people en masse, “killing thousands.” Yet another describes the carnage as worse than what was done during the Vietnam War, stating that there was “not a single person in the camp who did not suffer.” But post-battle aerial photographs showed that the combat zone where the bomb factories had been destroyed was roughly the size of a football field — a very small section of Jenin — and that 99.9 percent of the city’s buildings remained fully intact. According to the Palestinian Authority, the official Palestinian death toll from the Jenin battle was 56, of whom 48 were armed combatants.
Jenin, Jenin also charges that the United States played a role in the alleged atrocities against the residents of Jenin. One interviewee laments that President Bush, by supplying Israel with sophisticated weapons of war, indirectly killed “hundreds of millions of Arabs” throughout the Middle East. The film makes multiple references to American-manufactured F-16s (operated by Israelis) attacking the city and killing untold numbers of people. But in actuality, no F-16 or jet fighter aircraft attacked Jenin. In fact the Israeli government, seeking to avoid inflicting casualties on Palestinian civilians, insisted that the IDF use infantry soldiers in house-to-house fighting instead. As a result of this decision, 23 young Israelis died in close hand-to-hand combat — performing a task that a single F-16 could have accomplished with no Israeli (but many Palestinian) casualties.
Another interview subject in the film is a ten-year-old girl who explains that she wants to “go home,” but that the “Jews won’t let” her.
The film’s tour de force performance belongs to Dr. Abu Rali of the hospital in Jenin, who claims that Israelis “attacked the hospital and completely destroyed its west wing with F-16s.” But in actuality, Bakri’s film shows no evidence that any such damage occurred. Moreover, this hospital never had a west wing.
Dr. Rali further accuses the Israelis of having cut off water and electricity to the hospital. In truth, however, the IDF brought water supplies to the hospital, and even set up a portable generator to ensure that the hospital had electricity. What Rali does not mention in the film is that he himself rejected the blood supplies which the IDF had brought from Israel, because he refused to mix “Jewish blood” with “Arab blood.” To solve the problem, the Israelis had to import blood from Jordan to supply the hospital.
In a January 2005 sworn deposition, filmmaker Muhammad Bakri finally admitted to “falsifying scenes, using inaccurate information, and obtaining financing for the project from the Palestinian Authority.” Specifically:
Also in January 2005, five IDF soldiers filed a civil lawsuit (for libel) against Muhammad Bakri for falsely claiming that Israeli forces had committed genocide in a refugee camp. In June 2008 the Petah Tikva District Court rejected the suit. While agreeing that the film was indeed libelous, the court ruled that the individual soldiers could not seek redress for libel that had been committed against “an entire group.”
In July 2011, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld that decision, ruling that even though Bakri’s film was “full of things that are not true” and was hurtful to the feelings of the five plaintiffs, there was no legal provision for a civil claim because the film referenced the IDF’s operations in Jenin as a whole and did not focus on any specific soldier.