On August 30, 2001, UN envoy to the middle east and special UN ambassaodor to the PLO Mr. Terje Larsen, convened a press conference at the Beit Agron International Press Center to express the concern of the UN for the economic plight of the Palestinian Arab population over the past six months. Larsen complained that Israel was taking “draconian” measures against the Arab population which were not justified by Israel’s security situation.

This was Mr. Larsen’s first press conference in Israel since he visited the UNRWA refugee camp in Jenin when he declared that what he saw was “horrific beyond belief… “It is totally destroyed, it looks like an earthquake has hit it… Not any objective can justify such action, with colossal suffering”

(http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1937000/1937387.stm )

Larsen’s statements at the time lent weight to the Arab claim that “hundreds” of people had been killed and buried in a “massacre”, claims that were later refuted in a comprehensive UN report issued on August 1, 20002.

In light of the UN report, I asked Mr. Larsen if he would apologize to the people of Israel before Yom Kippur for promulgating the idea of a Jenin massacre.

His answer:

Larsen said that he did not promulgate any such idea, saying that he was expressing reports that he had heard from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the IDF Army spokesman.

Larsen’s spokesman called me aside to say that the word of “hundreds of deaths” in the Jenin camp were communicated by the Israel Foreign Ministry info chief, Gideon Meir and by the IDF spokesman, Mr. Ronn Kitry.

Reached for comment, both Meir and Kitry denied ever having spoken with Larsen, and both called Larsen a liar.

Reacting to Larsen’s comments, Israel prime minister’s press advisor Mr. Raanan Gisin said that Mr. Larsen’s allegations would be worthy of an immediate complaint to the UN Sec’y Gen’l.

It will be recalled that the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had suggested in April that Mr. Larsen should be classified as “persona non grata” by the Israeli government.


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.