Originally posted on the CiF Watch website on February 16, 2012
If there was one event that made the Second Intifada more deadly than it might otherwise have been, it was the apparent shooting of Mohammed Al Durrah (Al Dura/al Durah) on September 30th, 2000 that was filmed by Arab cameraman Talal abu Rahmah on behalf of France 2 TV producer Charles Enderlin. This was the few seconds of video that showed the boy cowering with his father behind a barrel at the Nitzanim junction in Gaza in a video and an image that have become infamous.
The accusation to this day surfaces constantly on the internet and doubtless in Islamic media even though it has been conclusively shown to have been impossible for Israeli soldiers to have shot the boy or his father from their position.
See, for example, James Fallow’s report in the Atlantic Monthly in 2003 Who Shot Mohammed al-Dura? .
In fact, it has never been proven that al Durrah was actually killed (there was never a body produced).
If al Durrah was shot it has been conclusively shown to have been done by Palestinians firing at the two from virtually point-blank range behind the cameraman abu Rahmah.
The two were completely shielded from Israeli bullets by the barrel behind which they were cowering and exposed to bullets from the Palestinian position. However, even the boy’s death is disputed since he is shown moving after he is supposedly killed and there is a strong suspicion that the whole thing was a Pallywood production in which the father had agreed to act due to a previous encounter with Hamas (and this is where the latest news surfaces – see below).
Abu Rahmah was brought in to do the filming, and Enderlin was only too happy to get the results and edit them for maximum effect. There is an excellent video reconstruction of the events on YouTube, if you can ignore the disgusting comments below the video by those who either will not accept the truth or want to continue to use the event to libel Israel, at Birth of an Icon.
France 2, Abu Rahma and Enderlin consistently denied faking the scene by selectively filming then editing the few seconds of the action that they showed. Their version is widely available on the Internet to this day.
As more doubts about the events that day surfaced (even the IDF accepted the initial reports), the father, Jamal al Durrah, paraded scars he claimed were the results of the Israeli bullets that hit him in an effort to persuade the public of his and the France2’s version of events. In fact, he became something of a cause célèbre, trotted out routinely at anti-Israeli events and in anti-Israeli media.
As it happened, an Israel orthopedic surgeon, Dr. David Yehuda of Tel Hashomer Hospital became aware of these claims, and the case rang a bell with him. When he checked his records, he found that he had treated Jamal Al Durrah for wounds inflicted upon him by Hamas in 1994 when they suspected him of collaborating with Israel! The scars al Durrah paraded were from the wounds inflicted by Hamas and the subsequent surgery. (There is some confusion in the press as to the doctor’s correct name as both names – “Yehuda” and “David” – could be first or last names. In Israel people are sometimes addressed by last name first, rather than the usual way. He appears in the media as both Yehuda David and David Yehuda).
In fact, the suspicion has been raised that Jamal al Durrah agreed to act in the Pallywood production to “repay his debt”, so to speak, to Hamas, for his previous actions.
Jamal al Durrah then sued Dr. Yehuda and a French magazine that published his story for libel in France in 2008. Of course, it is rather unclear how a semi-illiterate Gazan could have done this. It appears he was funded by an unknown source. Like Enderlin in the Karsenty libel case (see additional material below), on April 29th, 2011 al Durrah won his suit despite the evidence of Dr. Yehuda’s medical records! Dr. Yehuda was ordered to pay thousands of Euros in damages.
Dr. Yehuda vowed to fight back, and on Wednesday, February 15th 2012 the French Supreme Court acquitted him of slandering al Durrah. Another of the lies has been exposed, and it is now even less clear that either al-Durrah – son or father – was actually wounded or killed that day.
Another brick has been torn down from the wall of lies, falsehoods, edited film, and propaganda that has been erected around this patently falsified event in order to demonize Israel. Nevertheless, until a French court forces Enderlin to release the entire film clip, and rules on the actual complaint that the footage was doctored to create a false impression, this affair will continue to damage Israel’s image.
Here’s an interview with Landes at The Muhammad Al-Dura Blood Libel: A Case Analysis where he recounts what made him take such an interest in the case:
“On 31 October 2003, I sat down in the France 2 studios in Jerusalem and watched the rushes with Charles Enderlin and his Israeli cameraman, who happened to have been in Ramallah with him on 30 September 2000. That was when the shingles fell from my eyes.
“Much of the footage had a familiar quality: it resembled the footage I had seen in Shahaf’s studio, either boring or staged. At one point a Palestinian adult grabbed his leg as if he’d been shot and limped badly. Here, for the ‘scene’ to work, a half-dozen others should have picked him up and run him past cameras to an ambulance. But only kids gathered around him who were too small to pick him up. The man shooed them away, looked around, realized no one’s coming, and walked away without a limp.
“Enderlin’s Israeli cameraman laughed. When I asked why, he said, ‘It seems staged.’ I replied, ‘Everything seems staged.’ And then the other shoe dropped. ‘Oh, they do that all the time,’ Enderlin offered helpfully, ‘it’s a cultural thing; they exaggerate.’ ‘But if they do it all the time, why couldn’t they have done it with al-Dura?’ ‘Oh, they’re not good enough for that.’
“At that moment I realized the full-double-extent of the problem: Palestinians stage all the time, and Western journalists have no trouble with that. Any serious journalist who had a cameraman who filmed extensive staged scenes for him should either have told him that was unacceptable or fired him. Enderlin, the dean of Middle East journalism, had been working with Abu Rahma for more than a decade at this point, and he clearly had done neither. On the contrary, he told everyone that Abu Rahma was a superb journalist who met all the Western professional standards.”
Philippe Karsenty took up the issue in France and was fined 1 Euro and costs in 2006 when he was sued by France 2 for disputing their presentation and the judge awarded the libel case to France 2.
On appeal, Karsenty had the judgment reversed in 2008.
In 2002, Landes notes that:
“German filmmaker Esther Schapira releases her film, “Three Bullets and a Dead Child: Who Shot Mohammed al-Dura?” in which she concludes that Israeli bullets could not have killed the boy. France 2, sister station of the German ARD which produced the film, refuses to air it.”
Not to be outdone by France 2, as Landes notes, Suzanne Goldenberg, of the Guardian (UK) and the primary source of another outrageous libel, the so-called “Jenin Massacre”, “ published a lengthy article titled ‘The Making of a Martyr,’ in which Mohammed is eulogized and Israelis demonized”.
Being a useful Jewish reporter no doubt increased the impact of both her reports. Other networks, notably CNN, did much the same. Given the Guardian’s wide circulation among the left and Islamists who wish to delegitimize Israel, Goldenberg’s article was one that had great impact among the many reports on this affair and is still frequently referenced and has never been corrected or retracted by the Guardian.
Ha’aretz no longer claims that Israeli soldiers shot Mohammed Al Durrah, (See their report from Jan. 2011: Mohammed al-Dura’s father wins slander case against Israeli in French court), while their earlier coverage implied that Israeli soldiers had indeed shot the boy.
Nidra Poller examines the al Durrah hoax here: The Muhammad al-Dura Hoax and Other Myths Revived.
One of the most powerful descriptions of the miscarriage of justice in France in the Karsenty trial and the way the French media establishment tried to protect Enderlin as one of their own even when they knew the facts is “L’affaire Enderlin” written by Anne-Elizabeth Moutet at The Weekly Standard:
You could see Palestinians being carried on stretchers into ambulances, then coming out again unharmed, all in a kind of carnival atmosphere, with kids throwing stones and making faces at the camera, despite what was supposed to be a tense situation. The tape showed occasional gunshots, not continuous firing. From the general horsing around captured on film by Abu Rahmeh, Mena concluded that the whole scene must have been staged.
CiF Watch has commented on the issue several times, and cross-posted a very compelling essay by David Solway about Karsenty.
Finally, here’s a great video about L’Affair Al-Durrah by Richard Landes.