Back in March 2002, some 130 Israelis were murdered in Palestinian terror attacks culminating in the Passover massacre in a Netanya hotel, which killed 29. In reaction, Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield. As part of the campaign Israeli forces entered the Jenin refugee camp, a major nucleus of terrorist planning and operations.
With Israel finally fighting back militarily, the Palestinians launched a media counterattack. Most famously, Palestinian Authority spokesman Saeb Erekat announced to the world that Israeli forces had massacred "over 500 civilians" in Jenin -- a figure later rounded down to the 52 Palestinians, most of them armed combatants, who were actually killed. Twenty-three Israeli soldiers also died in the fighting -- a direct result of the fact that Israel refrained from bombing or shelling targets in the camp for fear of harming civilians.
Later investigations by human rights NGOs revealed -- even to the UN's satisfaction -- that there had been no massacre or wanton destruction in Jenin and that the Palestinian claims were baseless.
That, however, did not stop Palestinian filmmaker Muhammad Bakri from recycling the same mendacious claims and similar ones in his Jenin, Jenin -- a propaganda film that so enraged Israeli soldiers who were involved in the fighting that five of them, who are shown in still footage in the film, are now suing Bakri for libel. A film by Pierre Rehov, The Road to Jenin, also challenges Bakri's allegations and has been cited in the lawsuit.
Indeed, there was a shadow over Bakri's artistic detachment from the start. In August 2002 two of his cousins, Ibrahim and Yassin Bakri -- Israeli Arabs from the Galilee -- were arrested for involvement in a bus bombing that killed nine. Asked for his reaction by Israel Radio, Muhammad Bakri charged the media with "blowing up everything that has to do with Arabs," blamed the police for arresting his cousins, and said of the Galilee police chief that "He is himself a murderer." In February 2003, Ibrahim and Yassin Bakri were convicted on nine counts of murder for aiding the suicide bomber.
Before the suit by the five soldiers, Jenin, Jenin had already sparked anger, controversy, and litigation in Israel. When families of soldiers who had fought in Jenin petitioned the Supreme Court to prohibit screening of the film, the court at first complied. But Israelis of the far Left, seemingly intent on tarring their country by whatever means possible, made a point of screening Jenin, Jenin illegally on campuses and in some Cinematheque theaters. Later the Supreme Court, famous for its "liberalism," reversed the ruling, and it is now legal to screen what is essentially an enemy propaganda film anywhere in Israel
WorldNetDaily.com now reports evidence that Bakri's film was not just distorted in the heat of ideological conviction, but apparently was deliberately concocted to deceive. The online magazine has acquired a deposition from last week in which Muhammad Bakri admits to "falsifying scenes, using inaccurate information and obtaining financing for the project from the Palestinian Authority."
* Whereas Jenin, Jenin charges IDF troops with randomly killing and bombing civilians including women, children, and the handicapped, mutilating bodies, and reducing the whole refugee camp to rubble, Bakri states in the deposition that he "believed" certain witnesses who made such claims but did not check the information they gave him.
* Whereas a scene in the film implies that Israeli soldiers ran over civilians, Bakri admits in the deposition to devising this footage as an act of "artistic choice."
* Whereas the core of the Palestinian accusations against Israel, including Bakri's, is that it killed indiscriminately in Jenin, when asked if he actually believed this was true, Bakri said "no."
Most notably of all, Bakri admits that his film was partly funded by the Palestinian Authority -- and specifically by Yasser Abed Rabbo, its minister of culture and information. Rabbo is most famous as the cosigner, with Israeli maverick leftist Yossi Beilin, of the "Geneva Accords," which Beilin has trumpeted throughout the world as proving the other side's sincere desire for peace.
To the hoax of Muhammad al-Dura, the Palestinian boy supposedly killed by Israeli soldiers who as later proved could not possibly have done so, and the hoax of the "demographic problem," can now be added the PA-financed hoax of Jenin, Jenin. Israeli leftists have fought hard to enable the film's screening in Israel despite the mortification it causes to soldiers who fought in Jenin, their families, and the families of soldiers who died in Jenin. These leftists' favorite claim is that each side has its equally respectable, equally valid "narrative," and that addressing these "narratives" is the key to resolving the conflict. Will the Jenin, Jenin revelations make them rethink their assumptions? Don't bet on it.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Jerusalem whose work has appeared in many Israeli, Jewish, and political publications. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Aaron Klein, "Palestinian producer: False film funded by PA Documentary claims Israeli army committed war crimes," www.WorldNetDaily.com, January 17, 2005.