A handful of conference attendees were standing in a circle making faces at a cute, chubby infant girl, who was being cradled in the arms of her twenty-something, hijab-clad mother. When asked her daughter's name, the mother responded, “Jenin.” Several cooed with delight, and one young man was particularly excited, widening his eyes and nodding his head vigorously.
The newborn’s name, of course, comes from an incident that occurred in April 2002 during Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield military campaign against terrorist organizations in the West Bank. To the mother and many others at the conference, it is known as the “Jenin Massacre.”
Thing is, there was no massacre. But one would never know it if his only source of information was the PSM conference. For sale at one exhibitor's table was a DVD about the “massacre” that claimed to show the “footage no one was supposed to get.” Only in a paranoid fantasy, however, could one make such an assertion. CNN, among others, rushed to broadcast early reports of a “massacre,” interviewing on camera almost any Palestinian claiming to have witnessed atrocities. Most of the world was duped.
But when the United Nations—hardly a partisan of the Jewish state—thoroughly investigated the battle at the Jenin Refugee camp in the West Bank, it found that no mass slaughter of innocent Palestinians had actually occurred. The UN discovered that contrary to claims of over 500 innocents perishing, only 56 Palestinians died—47 of whom were armed. So few civilians died at Jenin because of the incredible caution exercised by the Israeli Defense Forces, which lost 23 of its own.
Emblematic of the PSM conference is that a beautiful young baby forever will be saddled with a name based on a slanderous lie, one that perpetuates a cult of victimology while necessarily dehumanizing the entire Jewish state.
Though media was barred from most sessions, this journalist attended the entire conference and enjoyed ample interaction with the 200 or so mostly college students in attendance.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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