On Thursday evening, September 25, 2003, civil and human rights attorney Carl Messineo spoke at the All Peoples Congress in Baltimore, MD. It is located near the site of the now razed Memorial Stadium, where the Baltimore Colts once played some of their greatest football games.
Messineo is a member of the Partnership for Civil Justice and the ANSWER Coalition’s steering committee. In May, 2002, he had made a fact finding mission to Jenin, located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
At the meeting, the acclaimed film, “Jenin, Jenin,” which has won an award at the prestigious Carthage International Film Festival, was also presented. It was co-produced by Iyad Samude, a Palestinian. It is a riveting account of how the siege of Jenin has affected the psyches of the survivors. Samude, a co-producer of the film, was himself shot and killed on June 23, 2002, after leaving an Israeli military-closed area near his home village of Al Yamun in the West Bank.
For background purposes, Jenin is a densely settled refugee camp of about 13,000. It is approximately one square kilometer in size and is populated by mostly poor residents.
On April 3, 2002, the invasion of Jenin by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) began. It lasted for nearly two horror filled weeks. If you’re Irish, think of the sacking of Drogheda, in 1649, at the hands of Oliver Cromwell. The pretext by the Ariel Sharon Gang for the collective punishment of Jenin, itself a War Crime under the Geneva Convention, was that the IOF was looking for suicide bombers.
Besides desecrating a mosque in Jenin, the IOF buried people alive, executed POWs, randomly shelled, tear gassed and bulldozed hundreds of homes, leveled the center of the town, killed infants, unarmed men, women and children, denied humanitarian and medical care access to the people, and also used civilians as human shields. At least 63 Palestinians died, and scores more were injured in the savage attack. No quarter, no mercy, was given the people of Jenin by the IOF. None! The IOF even mocked their helpless victims by spraying the Star of David symbol on the walls of their collapsed homes and using their school as a toilet.
Crimes that cry to heaven were committed in Jenin by the IOF. By way of illustration, despite the desperate pleas of Ulm Jamal, a 68-year old woman, the Israeli thugs bulldozed a house, where her paralyzed son was trapped. His last words from underneath the tons of rumble were, “Oh Allah, Oh Allah” (See pp.149-151, “Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion,” Ed. by Ramzy Baroud.) The callous bulldozer driver called the mother, and others who were begging for him to stop, “Whores!”
One of the bulldozer operators at Jenin was later interviewed by an Israeli newspaper, (05/ 31/02), “Yedioth Ahronoth.” He said with respect to his official duties during the siege, “If I’m sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down…No one (in the Israeli army) expressed any reservations against doing it…I found joy with every house that came down… I have no mercy…I say if a man has done nothing, don’t touch him. 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 the way I thought in Jenin…”
Messineo said, “What happened at Jenin is an acute manifestation of the state of siege that the Palestinians have been living under since 1948. At that time, the Israelis displaced by force or threats of force over 700,000 Palestinians. The Israeli military occupation is all about dominating the civilian population and the entirety of their lives. It is about cruelty to break the spirit of the people. The Israelis have also developed an Apartheid system for control purposes. The bottom line is the Israeli occupation must be eliminated and the Palestinians’ ‘Right of Return’ must be enforced.”
Of course, the Israelis denied any wrongdoing at Jenin. Sure! This was also their position with regards to their murderous attack, in 1967, on the USS Liberty, and their vicious bulldozing death, in 2003, of activist Rachel Corrie. In fact, when their spy, the traitor Jonathan Pollard was first caught, Tel Aviv lied again. It claimed he was a “rogue agent.”
Keep in mind that U.S. taxpayers have been subsidizing the Israeli terror campaigns against the Palestinians. Since 1948, there has been over $100 billion in direct aid to Tel Aviv, and $3 trillion in consequential costs absorbed by our national Treasury (WRMEA.com).
Naturally, the handful of the residents of Jenin who were armed, fought back heroically in self defense, inflicting heavy causalities on the invading forces. They knew of Sharon’s reputation for bloodletting from his criminal exploits at El-Bureig; Qibya; Qalqilya; the bombing of Lebanon, in 1982, (with over 20,000 dead); and of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila.
It bothers me, too, that there is so much hypocrisy around the issue of Palestinian resistance to the Israeli Occupation. Take Roman Polanski for example. His film, “The Piano,” depicted in a positive light, and rightly so, the Jewish resistance, in 1943, to a Nazi occupied Warsaw Ghetto. Unfortunately, Polanski’s sense of morality, like others, is limited to only the fate of the Jews. At Jenin, in 2002, and in so many other Palestinian towns and villages, it is the Palestinians, who are daily being brutally victimized by the oppressive Zionist storm troopers. The failure of intellectuals, such as Polanski, to honestly address and speak out publicly in condemnation about the full dimensions of the Israeli Occupation is also a glaring example of moral particularism.
In conclusion, the painful memories of the IOF’s invasion of Jenin linger on. However, with the help of activists, such as Carl Messineo, and many others, too, the day will come when the truth about this prime example of Israeli state sponsored terrorism will see the full light of day.