THE ROAD TO JENIN
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Directed and produced by Pierre Rehov -
Co-Produced by Michael Grynszpan
English, Arabic, Hebrew and French with English subtitles
(abstracts from a CAMERA
The Road to Jenin by French director Pierre
Rehov, depicts a moral Israeli army fighting a just war against
armed Palestinians in a hotbed of terrorism which spawned
more than half the suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.
Among the terrorists from Jenin, for instance, was the killer
who took 29 lives in the Passover bombing of the Park Hotel
Israel initially took the dangerous step
of sending infantry to fight house-to-house so as to minimize
civilian casualties. After nearly two dozen of their own men
were lost to ambushes, Palestinian snipers, and booby-trapped
houses, Israel brought in bulldozers for use in a limited
area, a step which led to the surrender of the Palestinian
fighters. (No air attacks were involved.) Can these disparate
accountsboth in terms of the facts of the specific incidents
they describe, as well the bigger pictures they representbe
Among the most disputed and misrepresented
facts about the fighting in Jenin was the number of Palestinians
killed and the extent of the destruction. Initially, Palestinian
officials claimed that hundreds were killed in the "Jenin
massacre." For example, then Palestinian Authority Minister
of Local Government Saeb Erekat stated on CNN April 10, one
week into the eight day operation: "Im afraid to say
that the number of Palestinian dead in the Israeli attacks
have reached more than 500 now." (See CAMERA
On Campus Fall 2002 for an in-depth review of PA misinformation.)
Later, when international workers investigated the camp and
found no evidence of a massacre, Palestinian officials drastically
lowered the death toll to 56, a number consistent with what
Israel had estimated (Washington
Times, May 1).
Especially inflammatory was a charge by
the director of the hospital in Jenin that Israeli tanks fired
11 missiles at the facility, destroying oxygen bottles, water
tubes, sewage pipes, hospital wards, doctors rooms and an
infirmary. "The whole of the west wing was destroyed,"
he testifies. "Fighter planes launched their missiles
every three minutes." Yet, the only sign of any damage
to the building is a piece of glass falling out of a window.
While the casual viewer may suspect that
hospital manager Dr. Mustafa Abo Gali isnt being entirely
forthright, the extent of his deception becomes apparent in
Rehovs Road to Jenin, in which Abo Gali is also interviewed.
In that film, the hospital director shows the alleged damage
as a result of 11 shellsa tiny hole or scratch on the outside
of a building. Moreover, Rehov provides aerial images of the
hospital on the last day of the incursionsurrounding trees,
the roof and floors are all intact.
Also, in Road to Jenin, Abo Gali claims
that the Israeli army prevented all ambulances from reaching
the hospital, insisting: "They didnt want people to get
medical treatment." Again, the images show otherwise:
Ambulances unload casualties by the hospital doors and IDF
soldiers are seeing assisting children and the elderly to
reach treatment. Dr. David Zangen, the armys chief medical
officer in Jenin during the incursion, and Bakris leading
critic, describes how the soldiers even treated Palestinian
fighters, including members of Hamas. Finally, in Road, Abo
Gali recounts that the 500 hospital occupants"wounded,
sick, our team, mothers and children . . . we had no food
left." Then Rehov cuts to a scene of an Israeli authorizing
Abo Gali in person to receive anything hed like for the hospital,
all except weapons.
According to Rehov, fabrication is not an
anomaly in Palestinian allegations of Israeli atrocities in
Jenin and elsewhere. As international journalists made their
rounds in the Jenin wreckage, residents often staged moving
photographs: An old woman, sitting in the rubble, is coached:
"Look at the camera. Look sad. Put your hand on your
face to look desperate."
Underscoring the Palestinian penchant for
inventing "news," Rehov even manages to capture
on film the manufacturing of a fictitious news story. On Jan.
25, 2003, he accompanies Palestinian journalist Ali Smoddi
of the PA-controlled Jenin television station as he and his
crew set out to interview a Palestinian man and his wife whose
baby was just delivered by a doctor.
At the hospital, Smoddis crew does several
"takes" of the fathers account of the birth, each
with a different spin. In one version, the father claims that
the ambulance they intended to meet was held up at a checkpoint
for 15 minutes, and he was forced to deliver his infant son
in the car, as the ambulance had not arrived. In another telling,
the father says: "The soldiers took me down to the ambulance
to check my identification and my wife gave birth in the ambulance
and went to the hospital." In each account, Smoddi prompts
the father and makes suggestions about the events. Smoddi
then prompts the new mother: "The tank stops you while
giving birth. Youre alone in the car, talk about your feelings."
Rehov also interviews Thaber Mardawi, an
Islamic Jihad fighter in Israeli custody, who states: "I
dont know why they [the Israel Defense Forces] sent the infantry
[into Jenin]. They knew they would be killed. To see a soldier
pass in front of me, Ive waited for this many years."
He also discusses the kinds of explosives that the Jenin fighters
used against the Israelis. (In contrast, Bakri includes only
oblique references to armed Palestinians, which serves his
agenda of portraying a U.S.-backed Israeli military force
allegedly attacking an innocent population in a massacre worse
Road to Jenin includes other revealing testimony.
Australian Christian humanitarian volunteer Dalry Jones, who
had initially been duped by Palestinian propaganda about Israeli
action in Jenin, recounts how Palestinians displayed photos
of bodies, "gouged and pitted, torn. We were told this
is from torture from the Israelis." Later, when she saw
a Palestinian child blow up in front of her face, she realized
that the ripped apart bodies were the result of human booby
traps that the Palestinians used against the Israelis.
Rehovs clear purpose is to expose the inflammatory
and defamatory falsehoods spread by a Arab propaganda. As
such his film does not attempt to be an overview of the Israeli
and Palestinian experience in Jenin or an exhaustive account
of IDF conduct.
Nevertheless, the information that Rehov
does provide is based on interviewees who use bona fide images
and documents to substantiate their claims.
"Rehov continues to make documentaries
about the shocking reality he uncovers in the Middle East
because no one else does"
(Joseph Farah - World
"Provocative films about the
combat between Palestinian militants and Israeli army"
(Greg Myre -
The New York Times)
"The most shocking moments of
Rehov's films involve blatant Palestinian efforts to manipulate
(Hanna Brown - Jerusalem
"The information that Rehov does
provide is based on interviewees who use bona fide images
and documents to substantiate their claim"
(Tamar Stenhal - Camera)
"There is only one filmaker who
has presented the truth in the matter of the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict, and his nom de guerre is Pierre Rehov"
(Phyllis Chesler - Author of "The
"In his documentaries, Pierre
Rehov demonstrates how our version of the middle east conflict
has been corrupted by the Arab use of reporters as propagandists"
(Jack Engelheard - Author of "Indecent
"Seeing Pierre Rehov's documentary
film 'The Silent Exodus' about the expulsion and flight of
a million Sephardi Jews helped me gain a better understanding
of the tragedy of a community that was integral and fundamental
to Arab society."
(Magdi Allam - Il
Corriere Della Serra)