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Posted in: Anti-Semitism, Jihad & Terrorism, Film & Propaganda, Arts, Film & Culture

Published on Aug 17, 2004 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for FrontPageMagazine.com

The Sins of Omission


Last week in these pages I wrote about HBO'S airing of the Miller/Shah film "Death in Gaza," which they are showing for two weeks. Because I failed to persuade HBO to consider airing Pierre Rehov's extraordinary films about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I decided to post two films on my own website for the same time period.

The response has been incredible. In the last six days, fourteen thousand people from more than sixty countries on six continents have visited my website; most stayed to view Rehov's films. People from thirty European countries came to visit, including viewers from Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Estonia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Monaco, Russia and Ukraine. Viewers from China, South Korea, the Philippines, Israel, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates joined viewers from South Africa, Senegal and Egypt. In addition, viewers came from all over the United States and Canada and from five countries in South America.

Given such grassroots interest in Rehov's work, I need your help to convince HBO to show it. If you agree with me that the network should air Rehov's films please ask them to do so. His work is of high quality and the truth he presents is, in my view, deeper, more troubling, and more important for American viewers to see than that presented in "Death in Gaza" is.

The co-producers of "Death in Gaza" are Sheila Nevins and Nancy Abraham. They may be reached at Sheila.Nevins@HBO.com and Nancy.Abraham@HBO.com. Please send me a copy of your letter c/o of my website: www.phyllis-chesler.com.

In the Miller /Shah film, we mainly see Israeli tanks and bulldozers moving ominously towards children and weeping women; the soundtrack which accompanies the Israeli military equipment is that of a horror movie. The only "human" face shown is that of Palestinians: crying, suffering, burying their dead, visiting cemeteries. In the Miller/Shah film, there are no Israeli civilians or child counterpart interviewees. Although the Palestinians are indeed shown as world-class haters and brainwashers, I still fear that the film will encourage further demonization of Israel and sympathy for the murderous Palestinians.

Rehov's film "The Road to Jenin" shows us a very different Israeli army than "Death in Gaza" depicts. A far truer view of the Israeli Army may be gleaned not only from Rehov's film but also from Gil Mezuman's film "Jenin Diary: The Inside Story," and from an important and moving book by Brett Goldberg: A Psalm in Jenin (2003, Modan Publishing House).

Given the world's diabolic double standards, Israeli soldiers stand accused of atrocities (they did not commit) while the ethnic Arab Muslim Janjaweed paramilitary troops in Sudan and the Arab and Palestinian terrorists remain uncondemned.

The truth is so different from the commonly held myths that what I am about to write will no doubt be met with considerable scorn by all those who believe what their politically correct professors and the Arab/Palestinian propagandists have carefully taught them to believe. But, speak I must.

The Israeli (and mainly reserve) army is exceptionally principled, sensitive, haunted by any accidental civilian deaths, grief-stricken by the deaths of their own comrades. Unlike the Palestinians, or al-Qaeda, they do not glorify death and they mourn each life lost in necessary battle. This must be said, not once, but over and over again to counter the monstrous propaganda against Israel.

For two years, terrorists attacked Israeli civilians non-stop. In March of 2002, they murdered one hundred Israeli civilians. In April of 2002, a suicide bomber exploded a bomb at the Park Hotel in Netanya, just as Jews were seated at their Passover seder tables. This was a final straw. Reservists voluntarily flew home to Israel from all over the world.

Most of the suicide bombers had come from Jenin. It was time to shut Jenin down.

Israeli soldiers went in on foot to Jenin, not only in order to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties but also because world opinion would not allow Israel to defend herself properly. The relentless sacrifice exacted by the world meant that 24 Israeli soldiers had to (needlessly) die in the siege in Jenin. The Israelis went from booby-trapped house to booby-trapped house and were easy prey for snipers, rockets, grenades, etc. For their efforts, Israel was falsely accused of committing a massacre in Jenin.

As we all now know, the "Jenin Massacre" was a falsehood. Twenty four armed Israeli soldiers and 56 armed Palestinian soldiers died. The Israelis were up against home-made napalm, rockets, suicide bombers, expert snipers, intricately and minutely booby-trapped roads, stores, fields, and buildings. Palestinian fighters were transported via ambulances, and snipers were shooting from mosque minarets. Israelis were ordered to never shoot at an ambulance or a mosque and no troops ever did. Israeli soldiers were wounded and killed while they tried to help Palestinian civilians. "Helping" civilians was a high-risk Israeli activity.

In addition, contrary to myth, Israeli soldiers not only gave out food and water--they gave up their own rations to civilians. They stocked up on candies for the children, diapers for infants. Israeli soldiers did not confiscate or destroy civilian property. In fact, they slept on floors so as not to soil beds. Israeli soldiers systematically rolled up oriental carpets to shield them from their muddy military boots. They left notes apologizing for any damage and thanking the absentee home-owner for their "hospitality." Sleepless, embattled, freezing, the Israelis refused to "borrow" blankets or coffee. (Only one caffeine-starved soldier did so and his commanding officer wrestled with whether or not to punish him). Israelis did not shell any hospitals. In fact, they treated every Palestinian civilian who was wounded professionally and ethically. Israelis fed and medically treated enemy combatants, including the men who moments earlier had been trying to kill them. In one instance, when an Israeli soldier accidentally wounded an old Arab man who was deaf and who could not hear his orders, the soldier literally fainted; the Arab man was medically evacuated.

Mezuman's documentary, filmed while the invasion of Jenin was still in progress, shows us exhausted, traumatized, frightened, heartsick reservists engaged in soul-searching and criticism of Israeli Army policy. Rehov's film confirms all this and more. Brett Goldberg's book explores the characters, biographies, and conduct-in-battle of the 24 Israelis who died in Jenin as well as those of some Israeli survivors of the battle of Jenin.

Unlike the Palestinians and Arabs who danced and cheered when they lynched, be-headed or blew up infidels, Israelis mourned and even wept when they had to destroy ancient orchards and homes because they sheltered terrorists. When one retarded Palestinian boy whom the Israelis had been feeding was about to be wired up with explosives, Israelis found a way to feed him from afar.

Israeli soldiers have been taught that they "ha(ve) no right to punish with violence. Only to defend." When one commanding officer received a Palestinian prisoner who had obviously been beaten, he freed him "as a lesson to the arresting soldiers."

If HBO and other American and European networks do not begin airing "both sides" of the Israeli-Palestinian issue so that people can really "make up their own minds," we are all the poorer for it. We are also more endangered when media feed us propaganda disguised as truth. I hereby formally join the august ranks of Christopher Hitchens and Paul Berman in their view that what was once a "liberal" media has so quickly become a "totalitarian" and "Islamo-Fascist-" friendly media--and all in the name of free speech, anti-censorship, and (Muslim-only ) civil rights.

HBO are you listening? Our lives may depend on it.


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