A shameful silence over al Dura

By Melanie Phillips, July 4, 2008

A French court’s ruling that the al Dura ‘killing’ could be described as ‘staged’ was barely reported

Last May, the Paris Appeal Court delivered one of the most momentous of all libel judgments. It declared that a French media watchdog, Philippe Karsenty, was entitled to state that TV footage by the France 2 TV station purporting to show the killing of 12 year-old Palestinian Mohammed al Dura by Israeli troops in November 2000 was a staged piece of theatre and that the boy had not been killed at all.

This ruling could hardly have been more significant, given the iconic nature of that footage and the evidence behind the court’s decision. For the image of Mohammed al Dura moments before he was apparently shot dead by Israeli soldiers at a demonstration at the Netzarim junction fuelled the intifada, which began in earnest at that point, and led directly to countless deaths by terrorism around the world.

Hitherto, public doubts about this event had been confined to whether the boy had been killed by Israeli or Palestinian bullets. But the court saw hitherto untransmitted footage of that Gaza demonstration. This showed clearly that, far from being under continuous fire, not one Palestinian appeared to be harmed at all.

Most astonishing of all, after the reporter on the film, France 2’s veteran Israel correspondent Charles Enderlin, announced that the child slumped on the ground had been killed, not only were Mohammed and his father unmarked by wounds, not only was there no blood at the scene, but the allegedly dead child moved his arm. To date, not one British media outlet has reported this case — apart from this month’s Standpoint magazine, in a piece by me. In France, minimal press coverage pooh-poohing the ruling has been accompanied by a petition signed by 300 journalists in support of Enderlin, a man with many powerful friends. None of them appears to have seen the courtroom evidence.  

The media silence is not surprising. For those images of the “dead” Mohammed al Dura perpetrated against Israel the ancient anti-Jewish libel of deliberate child killing. Furthermore, this was done by the media, which levelled a charge which, anyone looking at the evidence can see, was patently absurd. As the Paris judge wrote, there were “inexplicable inconsistencies and contradictions” between Enderlin’s commentary and the images he was describing.

But for the media to admit this is to concede that Israel has been grievously wronged by Palestinian lies. It will not acknowledge this, because that would open up the possibility that Israel might be the victim of Palestinian lies transmitted by the Western media as a matter of course. 

Some have even said, “So what if this child wasn’t actually killed? It doesn’t alter the fact that Israel murders Palestinian children!” Thus a blood libel inoculates individuals against truth and reason.

There is however a further twist to this extraordinary story. Charles Enderlin, who claimed that the boy was killed by the Israelis on the basis of what he was told by his Palestinian cameraman Talal abu Rahma, himself holds Israeli citizenship. Not only that, when he did his own army service he actually served as a press spokesman for the IDF.

Indeed, the IDF trusted him so much that when he reported his sensational scoop it accepted responsibility for killing the child — without even asking the commander on the ground. It was only later that it conducted an inquiry and discovered that logistically it was impossible for its soldiers to have killed him.

So why did Enderlin — who is now spraying around allegations that Karsenty is the tool of “right-wingers” -—- transmit this lethal falsehood? According to some who know him well, Enderlin believes that anything is justified if it helps force Israel to end its occupation of disputed territories. And “anything”, it seems, included transmitting the fiction of the killing of Mohammed al Dura.

This murderous corruption of journalism by France 2 was exacerbated by the supine response of the Israeli government. For seven years, it ignored the evidence of its own expert, Nahum Shahaf, that the boy had not been killed at all. It said nothing because it thought it would not be believed, so it would be counter-productive to focus more attention on the affair.

During this period, its spokesman, Danny Seaman, did say the killing was a fabrication, but was slapped down by the government and his remarks disowned.

The whole affair has, in short, been a disturbing lesson in how Western media acts as the tool of psychological warfare waged by the enemies of civilisation, leading to the murder of countless innocents and the demonisation of a country under siege.

Last updated: 12:18pm, July 7 2008



Fri, 07/11/2008 - 13:21

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A special Ministry should be created in Israel for "Hasbarah"-to counter and disprove such egregious allegations that the media, with fabricated images, use to portray Israel as the aggressor, and the Palestinans as the victims.