Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: The UN is running out of blind eyes to turn
Posted on 04/19/2002 5:39:56 PM PDT by Pokey78
DON'T get me wrong. I like the British papers, if only when compared with the unreadable US broadsheets. But it has to be said that, since September 11, Fleet Street hasn't done its reputation any favours, stampeding herd-like toward one mirage after another - "the mighty Pashtun warrior, humbler of empires"; "the fast-approaching brutal Afghan winter", due to arrive any day now; the "living hell of Guantanamo", where the medical staff outnumber the detainees, etc.
All very entertaining. But sooner or later I think readers have the right to expect their newspapers to get something right. Aside from "Sven And Ulrika's 3am Tryst", I mean.
Instead, we have the alleged Israeli massacre of civilians at Jenin. In yesterday's Telegraph, Terje Roed-Larsen, the "UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process", described the devastation at the refugee camp as "horrific beyond belief". It may yet prove the worst human-rights atrocity since, oh, the Dutch took charge at Srebrenica, but so far one can't help noticing a curious sameness about this week's fevered dispatches. All rely on the same couple of eyewitnesses - "Kamal Anis, a labourer" (Times), "Kamal Anis, 28" (Telegraph), "A quiet, sad-looking young man called Kamal Anis" (Independent) - and the same handful of victims - "A man named only as Bashar" (Telegraph), "the burned remains of a man, Bashar" (Evening Standard), "Bashir died in agony" (Times). You'd think with so many thousands massacred there'd be a bigger selection of victims and distraught loved ones, wouldn't you? But apparently not. I do hope my friends in the British press aren't being led up the humanitarian garden path one mo' time.
For a more nuanced view, one turns to the Egyptian papers. Al- Ahram this week contains a fascinating interview with "Omar", a top bomb-maker who managed to escape from Jenin on Wednesday. "Of all the fighters in the West Bank we were the best prepared," he says. "We started working on our plan: to trap the invading soldiers and blow them up." So Omar and his pals booby-trapped more than 50 houses in the camp. "We cut off lengths of mains water pipes and packed them with explosives and nails. Then we placed them about four metres apart throughout the houses - in cupboards, under sinks, in sofas."
That was just the interior decor. Outside, they placed more powerful bombs in garbage cans and cars. But don't worry about all those "innocent" civilians. As Al-Ahram reported, "According to Omar, everyone in the camp, including the children, knew where the explosives were located so there was no danger of civilians being injured." Thank goodness for that.
Omar's account is confirmed by the state of the corpses ("What appeared to be pipe bombs were partially hidden under a coat"). So you can understand why the UN's head man, Mr Roed-Larsen, would rather talk about "unacceptable" Israeli conduct than why his "refugee" camp (funded by British taxpayers) is, in fact, a bomb factory with on-site demonstration facilities. Mr Roed-Larsen's operation is a large part of the problem in the region. It's possible he himself hasn't a clue what's going on: that appeared to be the case 18 months ago, when Hizbollah guerrillas crossed over from Lebanon in UN-marked cars, abducted three IDF soldiers and murdered them, and Mr Roed-Larsen's subordinates embarked on a nine-month cover-up of relevant video evidence. The intemperate grandee might once again merely be out of the loop. But it beggars belief that officials on the ground in the UN-managed camp weren't aware of the scale of terrorist activities: there are only so many blind eyes you can turn. That's what's "horrific beyond belief": that the UN is complicit in terrorism.
Which raises the one question that matters: why is the Jenin refugee camp still there? The Palestinians are the only people on earth with their own permanent UN agency - the Union Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, established shortly after the Arabs lost their first dumb war against Israel in 1948. It was assumed UNRWA would be a temporary effort, as they usually are, and that the Arab nations would soon take over responsibility. But the Arabs shrewdly calculated that the Palestinians were more use to them in UN hands. So here we are in Jenin, a "refugee camp" about to celebrate its golden jubilee. Founded in 1953, it's been a refugee camp under Jordan, under Israel, under the Palestinian Authority. It's a refugee camp older than most African, Caribbean or Pacific states. But the UNRWA still launches its "emergency" appeals, for an emergency from 54 years ago, when the IDF halted the Iraqis at Jenin.
Go back to the other great refugee tides of that time: imagine if the millions of displaced persons in Europe at the end of the war or in the Indian sub-continent after partition were today maintained in camps, along with their children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren - three generations none of whom had ever lived in the places they're supposed to be refugees from. In whose interest would that be?
In Jenin, it's the UN that breeds "hopelessness" and "frustration", and enables and shelters terrorism. There was no massacre, just the natural consequence of the UN's foetid administration: if you let your charges build a bomb factory, don't be surprised if it blows up.
Update: Terje's backpedalling
Best I can tell, it wasn't a camp at all. The "refugees" all had apartments just like everyone else on the West Bank.
It looks to me like any other city, except that it's called a "camp" for political purposes.
I wonder if I'm missing something.
I have wondered the same thing about the Jenin "refugee camp". Their housing looked better than most of what I've seen on video from Afghanistan. Jenin is a town, period.
BTW, I had also heard someone on Fox last week point out that Clinton's administration had tried to give a lot of money to Arafat and his goons in order to refurbish and update the "refugee camp" of Jenin. Arafat refused the money (according to the source, whose name escapes me at the moment). He and all of the other terrorist goons want to keep this "camp" exactly as is for political purposes.
Thanks for the post and the ping, Pokey.
Amen, my friend.
This "Steyn gem" is truth.
Can I be the first to call on the use of the Bush Doctrine against the UN?
Great article, Pokey78! At first I thought it was the same as the National Post one, but I think this one is better.
Just a peaceful wittle town, trying to find its place under the sun, to live in harmony with all the world...
I must agree with you. I have been following Steyn for about 6 months now and he consistantly has the best foriegn policy take in the media. He is a treasure and If someone has a bump list for his columns please put me on it.
On one hand, its amazing that stuff like that goes on, but on the other....it's Arafat we're talking about here.
It is the only form of submission the Palis acknowledge. Only someone who bashes the Israelis will be treated as something other than a target. You are anti-Israeli, or you will be blown to pieces, or lynched, or shot by masked men in the middle of the street in broad daylight. That is how the whole thing works. Adopt and mimic our hatred, or we will direct it at you. They submit, they cower, they comply. They hate those the mad bombers want them to hate.
The same threat and the same reaction plays out in Europe. What we are witnessing is the revival of Jew hatred as a major political concept world wide, out of world wide cowardice in the face of Bin Laden and his merry band of murderers. Dislike of ruling Anglo-saxon powers, and of capitalism, are stirred into the brew as well. The targets of the hatred are supposed to deserve it, as representing everything anyone on the modern world dislikes about it. Where have we seen this all before?
Al-Ahram Weekly | Invasion | The 'engineer'
Omar sits restlessly on his chair in the safe-house. He is an "engineer" from Jenin refugee camp: one of the revered bomb-makers from the City of the Bombers. To the Israelis he is the most lethal, and wanted, of terrorists. The poison from the Cobra's head.
We meet late last Thursday, hours after he escaped from the camp as Israeli soldiers took control of the area. We are still close enough to Jenin that we can see the constant stream of illumination flares, three launched by the army at a time, that light up the soldiers' dark work in the city below.
But Omar will not be staying here long. He is going to ground deeper in the West Bank before regrouping with his comrades from Jenin.
There may not be too many. Even according to Israeli army sources, at least a hundred fighters were killed and hundreds more wounded and captured during the eight days of savage fighting.
Omar will not give his name or age. He is slim, in his mid-20s, with a closely cropped beard. He is a member of Islamic Jihad, but says in Jenin all the factions were loyal to only one cause: liberation or death.
Visible beneath a blue bomber jacket is the tightly bandaged stump of his right arm, the end of which he rubs distractedly.
How did he lose it? During the previous invasion of Jenin by the Israeli army several weeks ago, he says. He was hiding with only his arm visible as he tried to throw a 'kwa' -- a home-made pipe bomb -- at a tank. Shrapnel from a shell severed it, he says.
But as a bomb-maker, one of the most highly respected positions in the Palestinian resistance, he could equally have lost the arm in less glorious circumstances: in one of the explosions that are a professional hazard of his job.
Omar admits he is one of only a few dozen fighters not to emerge either dead or in plastic handcuffs from the fiercest battle waged by the Palestinians during the Israeli army's invasion of the West Bank.
Of his group of 30 gunmen, only four escaped from the camp on Wednesday, after the Palestinian arsenal ran dry. Most of the others were shot dead.
"Of all the fighters in the West Bank we were the best prepared," he says. "We started working on our plan: to trap the invading soldiers and blow them up from the moment the Israeli tanks pulled out of Jenin last month."
Omar and other "engineers" made hundreds of explosive devices and carefully chose their locations.
"We had more than 50 houses booby-trapped around the camp. We chose old and empty buildings and the houses of men who were wanted by Israel because we knew the soldiers would search for them," he said.
"We cut off lengths of mains water pipes and packed them with explosives and nails. Then we placed them about four metres apart throughout the houses -- in cupboards, under sinks, in sofas."
The fighters hoped to disable the Israeli army's tanks with much more powerful bombs placed inside rubbish bins on the street. More explosives were hidden inside the cars of Jenin's most wanted men.
Connected by wires, the bombs were set off remotely, triggered by the current from a car battery.
According to Omar, everyone in the camp, including the children, knew where the explosives were located so that there was no danger of civilians being injured. It was the one weakness in the plan.
"We were betrayed by the spies among us," he says. The wires to more than a third of the bombs were cut by soldiers accompanied by collaborators. "If it hadn't been for the spies, the soldiers would never have been able to enter the camp. Once they penetrated the camp, it was much harder to defend."
And what about the explosion and ambush last Tuesday which killed 13 soldiers?
"They were lured there," he says. "We all stopped shooting and the women went out to tell the soldiers that we had run out of bullets and were leaving." The women alerted the fighters as the soldiers reached the booby- trapped area.
"When the senior officers realised what had happened, they shouted through megaphones that they wanted an immediate cease-fire. We let them approach to retrieve the men and then opened fire.
"Some of the soldiers were so shocked and frightened that they mistakenly ran towards us."
On Wednesday, after the fighters ran out of ammunition, he says, armoured vehicles roamed the streets calling out to them in Arabic: "You are finished and can't win against us. We are more powerful than you. Surrender."
He saw one fighter who went down to the street with his hands in the air shot dead by snipers. He chose to flee the camp, although he will not say how.
Using his left arm, Omar shot a revolver during the gun battles.
With a new intensity on his face, he leans forward to ask a question. Do I think the doctors will be able to give him a strong new artificial arm with fingers he can operate. I don't know, I say. Why?
"Because I want to be able to hold a heavy rifle again. That way I can kill more Israeli soldiers. It's that or become a suicide bomber."
quisling-land Fredrik Norman translates an article from Norway's Dagbladet that says Zalman Shoval (counselor for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon) told UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen to "Go home to Quisling-land." Dude. That's harsh. And yet, so fully deserved.
Man, that's some site.
If we stick to the Bush doctrine, pretty soon we should start bombing the UN.
Yup. And if they were right-wing conservatives, they would call it a compound.
Welfare program operatives have a self-interest interest in continuing dependency rather than in the "clients" become self-sufficient. No dependent people, no welfare administrator job. I wonder how much of the millions, or is it billions, we send to the Palistinians ever gets beyond all the welfare service providers?