Saturday, December 24, 2011
The Jenin invasion, as the survivors experienced it.
If human rights and justice are important to you, then put “Searching Jenin” on your reading list and study it. I remember the news reports on Israel’s attack on the Jenin refugee camp. It was brutal, it was thorough, and it was presented as justified. Oddly, the experience of the camp’s residents was missing. Here they are not; they form the core of the book, and, as one might expect, they do not make easy reading. Each of the people interviewed during the investigation that Baroud and his team conducted of survivors of the attack is further evidence of what Jonathan Cook calls “Israel’s experiments in human despair”, the subtitle of his book “Disappearing Palestine” (Zed Books, 2008).
Under the guise of seeking out terrorists in the Jenin refugee camp, the IDF, which describes itself as the world’s most moral army, attacked everyone, killing women, children and men indiscriminately. When a woman glanced out her kitchen window, a sniper shot her. A terrorist? Obviously not, and just as obvious, it did not matter to the sniper. She was a Palestinian, an Arab, and that justified any behavior. It is part of Israel’s experiments in human despair. The accounts given by survivors are beyond what any decent human wants to believe, yet they are true. Too many people, in too many places, have given the same testimony. As I read, these words kept scrolling through my mind as I thought about the invading soldiers: “What shitty, shitty people!” I apologize for the indelicacy of my language, but I cannot think of anything better to say. These people are beasts, and more and more people are becoming aware of it.
The survivors call the attack a massacre, whereas Israelis recall it, not surprisingly, as “a fair battle.” Interesting to note what one of the attackers, a man nicknamed “Kurdi Bear” had to say about his role: “Many people were inside [the] houses we started to demolish. They would come out of the houses we were working on. I didn’t see, with my own eyes, people dying under the blade of the D-9 [bulldozer]. And I didn’t see houses falling down on live people. But if there were any, I wouldn’t care at all” (emphasis added). “A man who has done something, hang him, as far as I am concerned. Even a pregnant woman -- shoot her without mercy, if she has a terrorist behind her. This is way way I thought in Jenin. I answered to no one. I don’t give a damn. The main thing was to help our soldiers. If I had been given three weeks, I would have had more fun. That is, if they would let me tear the whole camp down. I have no mercy.” The man is a beast and a war criminal. And Israel welcomed him.
“Searching Jenin” is not an easy book to read, but it is a very important one. Ramzy Baroud and his team deserve an award for their work in revealing what happened there.
A definite 5 star read.