A saving grace even in recurring Israeli violence - the latest, the killing of 19 Palestinians by Israeli police gunmen - is a bedrock national conscience that exposes official lies of the Israeli government.

Almost invariably, intently in the past three years of the Palestinian intifada, Israeli government lies have been confronted by honest inquiry spawned by the Israeli democracy itself.The official Israeli lies persist, as it will be told a month or a year or 10 years from now that the Israeli police massacre of Palestinians on Jerusalem's Temple Mount was the unavoidable result of a "plot" hatched by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

But the same government that sponsors such tortured fabrication is bound by its own laws and traditions to suffer open dissent and vigorous media examination.

It's much the same saving grace that's woven into the American fabric and has everlastingly hounded American congresses since revolutionary days and presidents since Washington.

In the hours immediately after the most recent massacre, while Palestinian bodies were still being trucked away, the Israeli national conscience - the saving grace - was at work unraveling the government lies about what happened and why.

The official Israeli story was yet another portrayal of all Israelis as victims, even as their troops shot down more and more unarmed Palestinians.

The "plot's" intent, it was said by Israeli spokesmen, was to orchestrate - actually cause to happen from Baghdad - a new mass killing of Palestinians by Israeli police, thereby diverting world attention from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

As it was told, thousands of Jews in the midst of worshiping at Jerusalem's Western Wall on a Jewish religious holiday suffered an unprovoked and carefully planned attack from 3,000 Palestinians who hurled stones down on the Israelis from the Temple Mount.

A thin force of Israeli police, the story continued, had no choice but to defend itself by firing on Palestinians who were attacking them as well as the worshipers at the Western Wall.

The Israeli fraud was so artless the U.S. government - without shredding all the lies - ignored it and led the U.N. Security Council to adoption of a resolution condemning the Israeli killing. President Bush promptly criticized Israel for its lack of "restraint."

It was actually the Israeli conscience - concerned citizens and a vigorous media - along with some superb reporting by American correspondents, that has started to expose the most recent set of official lies.

Among the conclusions so far is agreement there was no plot. The Palestinian rioting and rock-throwing, it's agreed, broke out with reports of the approach of a police-protected band of Israeli religionists whose sworn intent is to demolish Islamic places of worship on the Temple Mount.

Another conclusion is that Israeli police first fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the menacing Palestinian mob, before stones were thrown down at Israelis near the Western Wall.

A most impressive exposure of the official Israeli lying was that the firing of live ammunition at Palestinians was not in self-defense, that the wholesale killing began when police were no longer threatened and after most Jewish worshipers had left the Western Wall.

A Jerusalem-based human rights organization of Israeli lawyers, B'Tslam, reported the police sprayed crowds of Palestinians with automatic weapons fire, with the policemen firing "from the hip."

In the shock of another mass killing of Palestinians by Israelis and in the flood of official lies, there remains the certainty that Israel will be held to answer by Israelis themselves.

This latest tragedy of lethal excess, as the others before it, still carries the certainty that the Israeli government will be called down when it lies, not by its lobbyists in America, most certainly not by the American Congress and not always by the American media.

The surest demands come, as they always have, from Israel's burning national conscience.