Opinion

The malevolent reporting on Israel’s Jenin operation

Much of the West believes the antisemitic lie that the Jews are responsible for their own destruction.

A closeup of the “BBC” news website. Credit: Anton Garin/Shutterstock.
A closeup of the “BBC” news website. Credit: Anton Garin/Shutterstock.
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. To access her work, go to: melaniephillips.substack.com.

Among the media’s customary Israel-bashers, reporting on Israel’s military operation this week against terrorist enclaves in the city of Jenin was predictably atrocious.

Jenin had become a hub of deadly terrorism, responsible for the murder of 31 Israelis in 2022 and 24 so far this year.

Almost half the inhabitants of Jenin belong to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). In 2023, more than 50 shooting attacks emanated from Jenin. Recently, two rockets were launched from there towards Israel.

During the two-day operation, the IDF uncovered bomb-making laboratories, a homemade rocket launcher, explosives, weapons and military gear.

Yet The New York Times saluted Palestinian terrorism as “an ethos of defiance” and described Jenin admiringly as having “a long legacy as a bastion of armed struggle.”

Other media outlets misrepresented Israel’s response to murderous terrorism as wanton aggression. They did so through systematic decontextualization, having largely ignored the growing toll of Israeli terrorist victims and the attacks that Israeli security forces thwart almost daily.

The day after the launch of the IDF operation, a car-ramming and stabbing attack took place in Tel Aviv in which at least nine people were injured and a pregnant woman lost her baby.

The usual suspects in the media instantly misrepresented this as an all-too predictable “revenge” attack in a dismal cycle of violence. But there is no “cycle of violence.” There are unending attempts to murder Israelis and there is the Israeli attempt to deter further attacks.

Moreover, there is a fundamental difference between the Palestinians’ deliberate attempts to murder Israeli civilians and the enormous care the IDF takes to avoid civilian deaths.

The IDF reported that all 12 of the Palestinians killed in the Jenin operation were combatants. In such a densely populated area, where terrorist caches and operation rooms are deliberately situated next to schools and hospitals, causing no civilian deaths in such an intense raid was an extraordinary achievement.

Not only was this given no credit by the media, but the entire event was framed in the most distorted and malevolent way. The leading offender in this—and the most important on account of its unique global reach and reputation for trustworthiness—was the BBC.

In an interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, BBC anchor Anjana Gadgil said, “The Israeli military are calling this a ‘military operation,’ but we now know that young people are being killed, four of them under 18. Is that really what the military set out to do?”

Bennett replied robustly that all the Palestinians killed were terrorists. To which Gadgil said, “Terrorists, but children. The Israeli forces are happy to kill children.”

After receiving several complaints, the BBC apologized, saying, “The language used in this line of questioning was not phrased well and was inappropriate.” 

While any BBC apology is rare, this was wholly inadequate for such a malicious incident. The BBC’s reporting on Israel and the Palestinians is not only consistently distorted but actively promotes hatred of Israel and the Jews who support it.

The BBC’s general reporting on the Jenin operation parroted the outlet’s standard narrative of oppressed and deprived Palestinians fighting hopelessly against Israel in an endless cycle of attack and retaliation.

It failed to mention the century-old Arab war of extermination against Israel, in which the Palestinians have refused repeated offers of a state of their own and instead redoubled their murderous attacks.

It failed to mention the daily Palestinian Authority propaganda onslaught that demonizes the entire Jewish people and instructs Palestinian children that their highest calling should be to murder Jews and steal Israeli land.

More astonishing still, the BBC totally omitted the reason for the terrorist upsurge in Jenin and the disputed territories: that Iran is running the terrorist gangs there to further its aim of wiping Israel off the map.

In  2021, a  U.S. State Department report estimated that Tehran provides up to $100 million annually in combined support to Hamas and PIJ.

A senior PIJ delegation, headed by its secretary-general, Ziyad al-Nakhaleh, recently visited Tehran, where they discussed with Iranian leaders how to escalate the fight against Israel.

Three months ago, Nakhaleh said, “The weapons that the Palestinians use for fighting come from Iran—the Iranians either pay for these weapons or provide them.” With Iran’s assistance, he said, the PIJ had formed “combat battalions in all Palestinian cities in the West Bank.”

Israel is now encircled by Iran. An estimated 180,000 Hezbollah rockets are pointed at Israel from Lebanon. Iran is backing missile and other terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas and PIJ in Gaza.

Now it has set up a similar terrorist infrastructure in the disputed territories, with Ben Gurion Airport and central Israel potentially within missile range.

It is simply staggering that the BBC and the rest of the liberal media have made no mention of this key development. The reason is that it doesn’t fit their narrative of Israeli oppression and Palestinian “resistance.”

That’s why the demonization of the Jewish people pumped out by the P.A. is resolutely ignored. That’s why the Palestinian aim to destroy Israel is denied. As the anchor of a BBC TV politics show said to me when I appeared on it this week, such things were just “propaganda” of the kind pumped out by “both sides.”

This skewing of the entire narrative is more momentous than most people realize.

The word “Nazi” has become so badly misused to demonize any opponent of the left that it’s been robbed of much of its actual meaning. But in the case of the Middle East, it’s not a vacuous insult. It’s no exaggeration to view the Arab and Muslim war against Israel as a posthumous Nazi front.

In recent years, a group of scholars has been steadily uncovering the depth of the alliance between the Arabs of Mandatory Palestine and the Nazi leadership.

The German political scientist Matthias Kuentzel has argued that the Nazi Party intended to turn Muslims against Jews and Zionism.

Now Kuentzel writes in the journal Fathom that his new book, Nazism, Islamic Antisemitism and the Middle East, sets out what’s known about the pamphlet Islam and Judaism, which was first published in 1937 by the director of the Palestinian-Arab Bureau of Information in Cairo. The author is believed to have had many contacts with Nazi agents. During the Second World War, his pamphlet was printed and distributed in large numbers by German forces.

Kuentzel describes it as a shocking text that uses religion to incite Jew-hatred. He writes, “It contradicts the widespread assumption that Islamic antisemitism developed as a response to alleged Israeli misdeeds. It was not the behavior of the Zionists that prompted the publication of this hostile text, but rather the very first attempt to implement a two-state solution for Palestine. This fact suggests that Jew-hatred was a cause, not a consequence of the crises in the Middle East conflict.”

Anyone looking at today’s Palestinian propaganda can identify its Nazi heritage of images and tropes. That’s because the Palestinian cause is a latter-day version of the Nazi onslaught against the Jews.

In the West, this does more than merely conflict with the narrative about the Middle East promoted by the BBC, The New York Times and the liberal intelligentsia. The West doesn’t want to hear about the Holocaust. It doesn’t want to hear about antisemitism. It tells itself the Jews exaggerate them for their own ends.

This is why the truth about the Palestinian war of extermination is never acknowledged. This is why the Iranian pincer movement against Israel is never reported.

It’s because much of  the West believes what antisemites have always told themselves: That the Jews are responsible for their own destruction. That terrible thinking is what we’ve heard amplified once again in this week’s reporting of the events in Jenin.

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