A long-time friend of this blog emailed asking how come I hadn’t posted much on France for the past couple of months.
The main reason is that I’ve been out of town, first in Florida and then in California, and have been catching up with a couple of other projects.
But another reason is that most of my commentary was centered around how French government-owned channel France2 sees American news, and France2 now doesn’t allow Americans to watch their TV broadcasts at their website. If you go to 20 Heures/Le Journal (the evening news), you get a message that reads,
YOU CAN NOT SEE THIS BROADCAST
Because it is only accessible to the countries that are active members of the EBU.
WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING
I suppose us non-members are expected to watch the filtered-for-foreign-consumption version at France 24. Bear in mind that France24, Chirac’s brainchild, was set up to present “a positive image of France” to the world.
You might think Enderlin’s professional standing would have been damaged by all this. You would be wrong. In less than a week, a petition was whipped up by his friends at Le Nouvel Observateur, France’s premier left-wing newsweekly. The petition conceded no gray areas, no hint of doubt. It called Karsenty’s vehemently argued but exhaustively documented stance a “seven-year hate-filled smear campaign” aimed at destroying Enderlin’s “professional dignity.” It flatly stated in the opening paragraph that Muhammad al-Dura was killed “by shots coming from the Israeli position.” It expressed rank astonishment at a legal ruling “granting equal credibility to a journalist renowned for his rigorous work, and to willful deniers ignorant of the local realities and with no journalistic experience.” It professed concern about a jurisprudence that would-shock! horror!-allow “anyone, in the name of good faith and of a supposed right to criticize and so-called freedom of speech, to smear with impunity the honor and the reputation of news professionals.”
Based on film footage provided by a Palestinian cameraman, Enderlin’s report has become infamous among students of Arab propaganda both for its destructive effects and for its probable falsity. The al-Dura affair now bids to join the Dreyfus affair in the French hall of shame.
Prior posts on the al-Dura trial here. Most recent podcast here To donate to Second Draft, the mailing address is Second Draft P O Box 590591 Newton Center Mass 02459
Given that, indeed, the testimony by Luc ROSENZWEIG, former chief editor of MONDE, established that after having met, in May 2004, some colleagues who shared with him their doubts about Charles ENDERLIN’s commentary, and having thereafter himself shared these doubts with Denis JEAMBAR and Daniel LECONTE, on October 22, 2004, he viewed with them FRANCE 2’s rushes and was surprised that, of the 27 minutes of Talal ABU RAHMA’s rushes, more than 23 minutes of the scenes on film had nothing to do with the images broadcast by the station, including those of little Mohamed’s death, and consisted of young Palestinians faking war scenes. The witness concluded his testimony at the hearing in the lower court by stating his conviction that “the theory that the scene [of the child’s death] was faked was more probable than the version presented by FRANCE 2,” while admitting that, as a journalist, journalistic “criteria did not allow him to go further than that.”
ON THESE GROUNDS
By judgment rendered after due hearing of the parties and after having deliberated according to the law;
In view of the interlocutory order of October 3, 2007;
Declares no objection to the pleadings submitted by Philippe KARSENTY;
Overturns the deferred judgment and dismisses the charges against Philippe KARSENTY;
Dismisses the demands of the civil parties.
Go read the entire translation. Dr Landes is going to comment on the text of the decision in the future, so I’ll be posting updates.
Via Maria, Jonathan Rosemblum writes, Pallywood: For once, the good guys win. The article summarizes the details of Enderlin’s nefarious blood libel (emphasis added), one of the most harmful anti-Israel propaganda videos ever made:
Enderlin distributed the France 2 clip free of charge, and it was subsequently broadcast thousands of times. The image of the terrified boy cowering behind his father quickly assumed iconic status. It featured prominently in mass anti-Israel demonstrations in Europe, where it was juxtaposed to the image of the Jewish boy with his hands raised in the Warsaw ghetto.
To heighten its impact, Palestinian TV cropped into the France 2-clip pictures of an Israeli soldier firing. The image of “Muhammed al-Dura” beckoning other Palestinian children to join him as martyrs in paradise features prominently in the Palestinian death cult. His name was invoked by the Ramallah mob that disemboweled two Israeli reservists, in Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 video, and in that of Daniel Pearl’s beheading.
France2 has played the footage thousands of times over the years (and the footage is still played by the international media as if it were true) but to the best of my knowledge have not reported on the court decision in their newscasts. I watch the France2 newscasts almost daily.
The whole Enderlin footage was a lie:
From the general to the particular. The sole footage of “Muhammed al-Dura’s death” was that of Palestinian cameraman Talul Abu-Rahmeh working for France 2. Abu-Rahmeh is a liar. On October 3, 2000, he testified under oath to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that there had been 45 minutes of sustained Israeli fire directed at the man and boy. As an experienced war reporter, he could verify that they could have only been hit by Israeli fire. Abu-Rahmeh claimed to have filmed 27 minutes of the fusillade. Later he told German documentary filmmaker Esther Schapira that he had filmed six minutes.
We now know that the boy could have only been hit by Palestinian fire. The story of a 45-minute fusillade was on its face laughable: Had Israeli soldiers wanted to kill Palestinians, they had dozens of rioters immediately in front of the Israeli stockade from which to choose. Moreover, Abu-Rahmeh’s entire footage of the man and boy consisted of 58 seconds comprised of six spliced scenes.
The rest of his 27 minutes of footage – only 18 minutes of which France2 produced when ordered to do so by the French appeals court – consists of obviously staged scenes, according to three veteran French journalists who viewed it. The “al-Dura” footage was shot in the same area that Abu-Rahmeh and other Palestinian cameramen spent the day shooting such staged scenes.
Abu-Rahmeh once declared, “I went into journalism to carry on the fight for my people,” and was certainly not above employing his camera for a bit of deception. A Reuters clip from the day shows him filming another staged scene involving a Molotov cocktail. That scene was inexplicably omitted from the rushes produced in the French court.
Whether Charles Enderlin knew from the first that his voice-over was false is unclear. That he lies is certain. He drew for gullible journalists a false map of Netzarim Junction, which wrongly placed the Israeli position in a direct line of fire to the man and the boy. Worse yet, he repeatedly claimed that he had edited out the last three seconds of the “al-Dura” footage because the boy’s death throes were too painful to watch.
Enderlin was ridiculed in the courtroom:
Enderlin drew twitters of laughter in the French courtroom when he offered that perhaps the crowd was anticipating the boy’s death.
There were no such death throes. In those last three seconds, the boy lifts his head, peeks out from under his arm (with which he is shielding his eyes) prior to resuming a prone position — albeit with his leg still held aloft. A nearby mob chants, “the boy is dead, the boy is dead,” before he even lies prone the first time. Enderlin drew twitters of laughter in the French courtroom when he offered that perhaps the crowd was anticipating the boy’s death.
What has the French media done? They’re circling the wagons and claiming that Enderlin is a victim – along with the Palestinians – of the Jews.
Richard Landes has a translation of an article from the French weekly news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur up at Augean Stables. Because I am unfamiliar with the naval-gazing world of the French Elite (they invented the word!), at first I thought that “Nouvel Observateur” must be some kind of French Idiom for Lunatic Asylum. The thing is such a monument to un-self conscious self-deification and denial of reality that it reads most readily as either parody or the ravings of the insane. If you read it sentence by sentence and really listen to what they are implying, it really sounds as if it was written by a group of loonies- some who think they are Napoleons, Louis XIV, a few Richelieus and a Robespierre or two- sitting around in the day room of a French mental hospital. I searched some of the names of the signatories and to my surprise, most of them appear to be out on the streets and without psychiatric “paperwork”. So, I guess, it turns out that we were meant to take it seriously.
Speaking of archeology, Machu Picchu got looted by a German guy before Bingham got there. Too bad Klaus Kinsky is dead – Herzog could have made a great movie with Kinsky playing Berns the raider. Or will Indy get the prequel?
The Paris court ruled in favour of media critic Philippe Karsenty, who called into question the veracity of the report, but it also said that it did not rule out that journalists at France 2 had acted professionally.
Karsenty, head of an online media commentary site, had appealed a 2006 decision which found libellous his statement that the station’s Israel correspondent had orchestrated images which later became a symbol for Palestinian militants.
In February, Karsenty presented judges with new evidence including a ballistics report and footage from other sources, which he said proved 12-year-old Mohammed al-Durra’s death had been staged.
The court said in its ruling the new footage “did not allow to rule out the opinion of (France 2) professionals,” but it also rejected claims by state prosecutor Antoine Bartoli that the new evidence was “neither complete nor serious.”
France2’s newscasts have not mentioned the decision at all; the only place in their website that mentions it is Enderlin’s own blog where he sticks to his guns and says he’s going to appeal. Enderlin wasn’t even present at the supposed shooting. Dr. Richard Landes notices that comments to the contrary are not allowed.
My friends Nidra Poller and Erik Svane are in Paris.
Notice also how they end the article by writing “that he didn’t die at that exact moment” suggesting nothing more than perfidious playing around with the details of what is a very real tragedy. Whereas PK is really saying that his movements prove that not only did the boy not die at all, he was just pretending to be killed in a deliberately-written script…
The joke is that the media didn’t cover the trials, didn’t consult the documentation, didn’t inform readers that there was a controversry. Now they suddenly jump in, report the verdict, and then reverse it in their sly little way.
Every article I’ve seen in French includes a paragraph that re-reports the death of Mohamed al Dura more or less as Enderlin told it in September 2000. So all these journalists who never came to see what was really happening are now smarter than the court, smarter than Karsenty who won, smarter than their readers who will sooner or later catch on!
Excuse the profanity, but that’s more than smart, that’s smartass!
Here in the US, none of the major newspapers have anything on this decision. If you do a google news search you find that most of the news stories come from Israeli newspapers. A few bloggers are writing about it, among them Yid With Lid, who wants to know where in the world is Muhammad al-Dura. Pamela also posted Nidra’s report, where Nidra noticed how the spin started immediately. ShrinkWrapped expects that the media posturing will continue indefinitely.
Which is exactly what the media is doing.
This is a disgrace: the image of Mohammed al-Dura shot and “dead” has been played thousands of times over and over. As Scott Johnson (via Powerline) said earlier this year,
Based on film footage provided by a Palestinian cameraman, Enderlin’s report has become infamous among students of Arab propaganda both for its destructive effects and for its probable falsity.
In the asymmetrical warfare of global Jihad against the West, the “weak” side treats the media of the “strong” side as a theater of war, and no single case shows the Western journalism’s vulnerability to this kind of manipulation better than the Al Durah affair. Nothing illustrates the dysfunctions of our media more than their pervasive refusal to reconsider this case, despite the amount of damage it has produced. Nothing endangers Western democracies more than mis-information, and news broadcasts, products of a free and honest media, are the eyes and ears of the civil polity. No creature, no matter how powerful, can survive if its senses betray it, especially in a war zone.
Pajamas Media also has an article by Phillipe Karsenty where he explains what the decision means:
Our victory today was a victory for freedom — the freedom to think and to speak one’s mind; the freedom to question what one is told; and the freedom to disbelieve the solemn pronouncements of others when the individual concludes that his reasoning is correct and that the state and the state-run media — and all of the institutions they represent — are wrong.
The al-Dura lie is an assault on our ability to think, to criticize, to evaluate, and finally to reject information — especially the right to reject information on which we base our most cherished assumptions. One of Europe’s most cherished assumptions is that Israel is a vicious Nazi-like entity that deliberately murders Palestinian Arab children. Moreover, polls conducted in Europe have identified Israel as the greatest threat to world peace, greater than Iran and North Korea, Pakistan and Syria. The al-Dura hoax is one of the pillars on which these assumptions rely.
There are no stories (at least, not yet), in which the mainstream Western media admit that in the past, they have allowed themselves to be fooled, over and over again, by the narrative of Palestinian Victimhood and Israeli Evil because it suited them–the facts be damned.
Today the French court of appeals comes down with its decision. The outcome, whiich we will know in hours is, alas, unpredictable. Were the court’s decision based entirely on the evidence — as it should be — the decision would be clear. Philippe Karsenty had a dozen excellent reasons for accusing France2 and Charles Enderlin of presenting their viewing pulbic with staged footage, whether they knew it at the time or not. But past experience with the French courts suggests that decisions do not necessarily derive from the evidence alone. Hence the uncertainty.
For those who want to examine some of the msjor evidence upon which the court is, in principle, basing its decision, they can conslut here
UPDATE You can listen to the podcast here To donate to Second Draft, the mailing address is
Second Draft P O Box 590591 Newton Center Mass 02459
French courts are due to render a verdict on the libel suit brought about by a media watchdog group against France2, a government-run news TV station. The case has to do with a news report where France2 reporter Charles Enderlin claimed that the child Mohammed al Dura had been shot dead by the Israeli Defense Forces.
The verdict on the al-Dura trial in France is due tomorrow.
2000 Sept. 30, 2000: Palestinian gunmen and Israelis soldiers clash at the Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip. A large contingent of foreign reporters, photographers and television crews are present, including France 2 cameraman Talal Abu Rahma. Much of the day’s events are filmed by the various (20 or so) television crews, but only Abu Rahma records what he claims to be Mohammed Al Dura’s death by Israeli bullets. (A Reuters clip apparently captures Jamal and Mohammed Al Dura filmed from a different angle.) He records 27 minutes of footage that day. While France 2 Middle East Bureau Chief Charles Enderlin is not at the scene at this time, he later views Abu Rahma’s clips and accepts the cameraman’s account of events.
Enderlin edits the film and provides the voice-over commentary for that evening’s news broadcast. Only a small portion (55 seconds) of Abu Rahma’s footage is broadcast on the evening news. The footage shows Jamal Al Dura and his son Mohammed huddled behind a thick concrete barrel, gunshots hitting the wall behind them. The footage does not show the child dying.
Correspondent Charles Enderlin comments on the footage for France 2 :
3 pm… everything has turned over near the Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip…here Jamal and his son Mohammed are the targets of gunshots that have come from the Israeli position…. A new burst of gunfire, Mohammed is dead and his father seriously wounded.
France 2 distributes the footage – free of charge – to the global media, and it is broadcast around the world.
Oct. 1, 2000: ABC’s Gillian Findlay also says the boy died “under Israeli fire.” She repeats this language a few days later. Other media outlets make clear that the father and son were caught in the crossfire between Israelis and Palestinians.
Oct. 3, 2000: Palestinian Cameraman Testifies
Talal Abu Rahma volunteers to testify in a sworn statement to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights the details of what he saw at Netzarim on Sept. 30. He says:
I spent about 27 minutes photographing the incident which took place for 45 minutes…. I can confirm that the child was intentionally and in cold blood shot dead and his father injured by the Israeli army.
(For complete statement, click here.)
Preliminary IDF Investigation
There is no autopsy on the boy and no bullets recovered. After a hurried preliminary investigation, the IDF expresses sorrow over the tragedy, concluding that its troops were probably responsible for killing Al Dura. IDF Major General Giora Eiland says:
There is no way to prove who shot him. But from the angles from which we fired, it is likely that he was hit from our gunfire…. It is very reasonable that they were hit from our gunfire.
While the IDF attempts to put the incident to rest by accepting responsibility for Al Dura’s death, Major General Yom Tov Samia, commanding officer at the time, and other senior officers in the Southern Command are convinced that IDF soldiers have not shot the boy.
October 2000: Nahum Shahaf, an Israeli physicist, contacts Major General Samia to voice his doubt about Israeli responsibility and offers to collaborate in an investigation of the matter. Samia agrees and the IDF investigates further.
Oct. 23, 2000: An IDF re-enactment of the Al Dura incident, with the participation of Nahum Shahaf, raises serious doubt about whether the gunfire could have come from Israeli positions. Investigators lay out replicas of the Israeli army position, and the concrete barrel and wall which sheltered Al Dura. Soldiers fire shots at the barrel and wall using a variety of different weapons and study the indentations made by the bullets. Also studied is the dust clouds which result from the wall being struck by bullets from various angles. The shape and size of the clouds is compared to the shape and size of dust clouds in the video of Al Dura.
The re-enactment indicates that based on the location of the Israeli soldiers, the concrete barrel would have prevented Israeli bullets from hitting Jamal and Mohammed Al Dura. The bullet holes and dust clouds in the Al Dura video further indicate that the fatal shots could not have come from the Israeli position, but rather from an area more directly across from the father and son, near a Palestinian police position.
Oct. 25, 2000: Telerama, a French magazine, publishes an interview with Charles Enderlin in which he explains the brevity of the news clip broadcast of the incident. He asserts:
I cut the images of the child’s agony (death throes), they were unbearable. The story was told, the news delivered. It would not have added anything more…As for the moment when the child received the bullets, it was not even filmed. Nov. 27, 2000: IDF releases the findings of its comprehensive investigation into the Al Dura killing. It concludes that Al Dura was likely killed by Palestinian gunfire. States Israeli Major General Yom Tov Samia:
A comprehensive investigation conducted in the last weeks casts serious doubt that the boy was hit by Israeli fire. It is quite plausible that the boy was hit by Palestinian bullets in the course of the exchange of fire that took place in the area.
Dr. Landes produced the documentary Pallywood. You can download it from Second Draft, and here’s the YouTube:
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Charles Enderlin, France2’s correspondent in Israel, is infamous for using Palestinian stringers to do his reporting. Clearly it’s a lot safer for Enderlin to stay in his hotel while someone else is in the middle of the fray. Once he receives the video footage Enderlin reports whatever his stringers bring back to him.
On September 30, 2000 France 2 broadcasted 55 seconds of edited footage while Enderlin, who was not present at the site, reported that 12-yr-old Mohammed Al Dura had been killed by the IDF. Philippe Karsenty, director of the media watchdog group Media Ratings has maintained all along that the footage was a hoax staged by France2.
Neo-Neocon was able to attend one of the trials brought about by Enderlin’s lack of journalistic integrity.
For years, Charles Enderlin of French public television network France 2 has been battling accusations that his September 30, 2000 newscast of a Palestinian boy allegedly shot to death by Israelis was staged. The 12-year-old, Mohammed al Dura, became an icon of Palestinian “martyrdom,” fueling Arab hatred of and violence against Israel, even while serious doubts mounted about the authenticity of Enderlin’s broadcast.
Enderlin and his network responded aggressively with deceptions, cover-up, and lawsuits, while the mainstream media largely ignored or dismissed the accusations, as well as the inconsistencies in Enderlin’s story. But Enderlin and France 2 might have finally overplayed their hand with a defamation lawsuit against a tenacious blogger whose appeal resulted in a court-ordered public viewing of some the original film footage France 2 had been concealing. According to witnesses, the original footage shown in the courtroom by Enderlin was edited. The question is, will the Al Dura affair finally be discredited in the mainstream media?
According to Boston University Professor Richard Landes, who saw the original footage of the event in Enderlin’s office four years ago, Enderlin provided the court with an edited film from which two obviously staged scenes were cut. Click here to see a film of the evidence suggesting the broadcast was staged, and here to read CAMERAs backgounder on the affair
Enderlin stands in front of the judge and says everything and the opposite about the positions. He does not reply to a single objection raised by Karsenty, raised by other analysts repeatedly over the past seven years: The father’s arm is intact, he claims he was hit nine times by high power bullets, his muscles smashed, his bones crushed. No blood on his white t-shirt. Voices in Arabic shout ‘the boy is dead! the boy is dead!’ He is sitting next to his father, eyes wide open.
Charles Enderlin standing in a French court explains: Oh, that’s something cultural. In their culture, when they say ‘the boy is dead’ they mean he is in danger of dying, that he is in a very dangerous situation, he might die. The judges smile.
We reach the end of the scene as it figured in news reports, the point where Charles Enderlin said, “Mohamed is dead, his father is critically wounded.” We might ask what that means in his culture…because the scene continues for another three seconds in which we see the boy who is lying on his stomach with his hands over his eyes, turn, lift his elbow, shade his eyes, look at the camera, and slowly return to his prone position.
But this scandal goes far beyond France 2. Soon after it transmitted the 55 seconds which showed the ‘killing’ of Mohammed al Durah, it helpfully sent various news agencies three minutes of the footage of this incident – including the frames in which the ‘dead’ child is seen moving, but which of course it had not broadcast. For reasons which invite speculation, not one of these agencies broadcast it either. Had they done so, there would have been no ‘killing’ of Mohammed al Durah and untold numbers of subsequent deaths would have been avoided.
It is therefore not surprising, but no less shocking, that with a couple of heroic exceptions the mainstream media has until very recently ignored the evidence suggesting that a monumental and deadly fraud was perpetrated here, indicators which have been around for years. As of today, the Karsenty case has been totally ignored by the mainstream French media. It is also deeply troubling that the Israel government ignored this evidence for seven years, that it is only very recently that its press spokesman Danny Seaman said the incident was staged, and that even now certain representatives of the Israel government are playing a most ambiguous role in defending their country against this modern blood libel.
The ‘killing’ of Mohammed al Durah was swallowed uncritically by the western media, despite the manifold unlikeliness and contradictions which were apparent from the start, because it accorded with the murderous prejudice against Israel which is the prism through which the Middle East conflict is habitually refracted. This scandal has the most profound implications not just for the media, not just for the Middle East conflict but for the western world’s relationship to reason, which seems to grow more tenuous by the day.