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How Dare You Deprive us of our Icon of Hatred? A Saudi Writer on Al Durah

The Kuperwasser Committee Report on Al Durah has elicited fascinating and revealing responses. This one from Saudi Arabia permits us to appreciate just how important a role that icon of hatred plays in the consciousness of the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim world.

Muhammad Al-Dura lives

For the general public, the picture of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza usually conjures up confrontations between Palestinian boys throwing stones at armed Israeli soldiers. But in the one image which more than any other epitomizes the character of the conflict in the territories, a Palestinian boy is not throwing stones, but all the same is shot and killed.

In other words, no possible excuse, this is the deliberate murder of a totally innocent boy.

The boy is Muhammad Al-Dura and the TV image of his father shielding the screaming 12 year old when they were caught in a heated exchange of fire between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters [sic] became the enduring symbol of the second Palestinian uprising, or Intifada.

Thirteen years after the death [sic] of Al-Dura, the controversy behind the pictures is still alive. It is not really controversial except in Israel’s eyes.

This is actually interesting. The international press is angry at Karsenty for saying everyone in France agrees with him, because there are many who don’t. Here is the opposite position. In both cases the speaker imagines everyone agreeing with him because it’s true (i.e., he’s right). The only distinction is one has examined the evidence, and the other has not.

An Israeli government committee recently concluded in a report that Al-Dura’s death, which was broadcast by France 2 on Sept. 30, 2000, cannot be substantiated by the pictures. States the report: “There is no evidence that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) was in any way responsible for causing any of the alleged injuries to Jamal (the father) or the boy.”

The 44-page report of the investigation, ordered last year, said there was no evidence the boy was killed at all, claiming there were no blood marks on the scene or bullet wounds in the alleged victims. It said the boy was shown alive toward the end of raw video it obtained from France 2, but that was not included in the edited TV report.

Not even killed? The IDF apologized at the time. Why apologize unless you did something wrong?

Nothing better illustrates the problem of cultural expectations in this affair than this remark. As a non-Jewish reader remarked to me: “You don’t seem to understand. Where I come from, you don’t apologize for anything. So if you even sort-of apologize for something, it’s assumed you did ten times more than you’re admitting to. I don’t think many people understand how readily Israelis (even government figures) are inclined to apologize for things like this, partly because, if they have killed children, they do regret it.

But of course, that’s not the narrative our Saudi writer has in mind. For him the “if… then” apology from Israel is proof they killed the kid.

How can the committee be so sure about what happened to Al-Dura? No autopsy was conducted, and the Israeli investigation was based primarily on expert interviews and analysis of the raw film. That’s not good enough. The circumstances of Al-Dura’s death raise questions that definitely required a quick response at the time – not 13 years later. No Israeli institution bothered to set up an independent, expert investigation when this was possible.

Actually, they did, but Israeli journalists trashed it before anyone else had to deal with their findings. Bob Simon, in his “60 Minutes” episode on this incident didn’t even go into the evidence the investigation turned up.

The fact that an organized body like the IDF, one of Israeli society’s most prominent institutions, with its vast resources, undertook such an amateurish investigation on such a sensitive issue is very odd. Is this the best Israel’s main fighting force can do? Since Israel is forever worried about its image in front of the world, why didn’t the political echelons demand that a proper investigation be conducted?

Now it is clear that the chance of Israel proving that it is not guilty of shooting the youth is over, and with it, the belief in an independent IDF investigation has also been lost. As it has done in previous crimes, notably in the MV Mavi Marmara debacle, Israel appointed itself judge and jury and, without fail, proclaimed itself innocent.

Interesting choice. Even the BBC, so ill-inclined towards Israel that it spends hundreds of thousands of pounds to keep the Beilin report on their anti-Israel bias out of the press, has taken Israel’s side in the Mavi Marmara. Indeed they’re both part of the sequence of lethal journalist outbreaks that occurred in the thirteen years since Al Durah.

Like Yasser Arafat, whose body was exhumed last year to determine whether he had been poisoned, Jamal Al-Dura is prepared to have his son’s remains exhumed to demonstrate that he was killed by Israeli bullets. That should settle the issue. Not surprisingly, Israel has not commented.

Israel would be fine with an exhumation. Apparently the Arafat exhumation did not bring about the kind of news the exhumers were hoping for, and of course, were the boy in the tomb dug up, it would be still more embarrassing. The father can make this claim all he wants, but no one on the other side will support him.

Israel claims Al-Dura is alive.

They don’t. Just alive at the end of the footage shot by Abu Rahma.

In a way, he is. He lives in spirit, an important symbol in the Palestinian struggle for statehood. Al-Dura is a powerful rallying cry. He has been immortalized in stamps and posters bearing his image and a children’s hospital, schools and streets are named after him. He lives on in everyone who supports justice and opposes oppression.

Actually, he lives on in everyone who wants war and vengeance, and needs to oppress his neighbors in order to feel like a man.

Israel has taken much from the Palestinians, but it will never take away Muhammad Al-Dura’s final moments.

What a magnificently ironic statement. What the Israelis have done is add the final moments of Al Durah’s life on video, and shown that he’s neither dead, nor, it would seem, dying.  But apparently, Al Durah dead is much more valuable than Al Durah alive.

How dare you deprive me and my people of our icon of hatred!

Enderlin: “What would they say in Gaza if I didn’t report that the Israelis killed him?” (from The Augean Stables)

enderlin schwartz quote

One of the more scandalous episodes of the Al Durah Affair came about after the judges saw the rushes and Karsenty won his appeal, much to the astonishment of the journalistic community who, under the aegis of Jean Daniel of Le Nouvel Observateur, put together a petition in his support. Below is a discussion of this development from an earlier post on Public Secrets (“they stage stuff all the time”) and Journalism.

In it I quote a remarkable response to Ha-aretz reporter Adi Schwartz’ question to Enderlin, “Why say ‘target of fire from the Israeli position” [when you didn’t at the time have any evidence], to which Enderlin responded, “what would they say in Gaza if I didn’t report that the Israelis killed him?” This is an astonishing quote, whose discussion I’ll delay to after the discussion of the “Nouvel Obs Petition.”

But then the “friends of Charles” did something remarkable and remarkably foolish. They put up a letter of support for their colleague that bemoaned the “campaign of hatred and vilification” that had dogged his steps for lo! these seven years… accusing him of a hoax when he told the world that the boy was killed by fire coming from the Israeli position. The court’s decision, they declared, surprised and worried them: surprised, because the court “granted the same credibility to Karsenty,” a mere civilian, as it had to Enderlin, the veteran reporter “known for the seriousness and rigor of his work, who exercises his profession in sometimes difficult conditions”; worried, because the court’s decision “gives a ‘permission to defame’ journalists, which would permit anyone, in the name of ‘good faith’ and ‘the right of free criticism,’ to strike with impunity at the ‘honor and reputation of information professionals.’” This, they concluded, coming “at a time when the freedom of action of journalists is the object of repeated attacks,” would undermine “this fundamental principle, pillar of democracy” and therefore they “renew our support and solidarity with Charles Enderlin.”

The text of this petition, signed by many, is as revealing as the Cristiano letter both in its complete indifference to the public secret that the Cristiano letter revealed about the systematic intimidation of the correspondents in the field. Perhaps that’s what the petition meant by “difficult circumstances” that their “veteran reporter” sometimes operated in. But somehow (unless one posits deliberate deceit), it could not occur to them that their friend was systematically misrepresenting the “terrain” he knows so well, that he would misreport events because “what would they say in Gaza if I didn’t report that the Israelis killed him?

On the contrary, the petition was written and signed by people who showed no interest in the evidence, who believe that their colleague should be given superior credibility because he is their colleague. And they clearly think that freedom from criticism by their readers guarantees their freedom of speech. It would be hard to imagine a more blatant expression of a privileged corporatist mentality redolent of the ancien régime. Ben Dror Yemini compares them to the “anti-Dreyfusards, who also stubbornly clung to the first version.”

And they just reared their ugly head again, the usual lethal suspects – journalists, photographers, and “Human Rights” NGOs, who call themselves the Vultures on Facebook, in response to the Kuperwasser Commission’s threat to their axiomatic belief: Al Durah is true. On rekaB Street.

And all this operates within the Augean Stables, whose parameters are

  • Palestinian intimidation (part of a larger context of the willingness of the “weak” in asymmetrical warfare to resort to violence)
  • journalistic self-esteem/honor-shame concerns about being “looking honorable”
  • advocacy for the underdog to the point of underdogma as a resolution to the dilemma.

Here Enderlin reveals that in the journalist’s daily and constant struggle navigating between loyalty to his sources, and loyalty to his audience, professional scruples of the most elemental sort – heavy accusations need heavy corroborating evidence – answered to the people of Gaza and neither to Israel, nor even to his professional standards. And the ease with which both he expresses it and Adi Schwartz accepts it, illustrates just how encrusted these bad attitudes had become.

Apparently, the Haaretz translators of this article understood that this comment was too revealing for the rest of the world, and cut the key phrase in its English version:

A.S.: In hindsight, is it possible that you were too hasty that evening?

C.E.: I don’t think so. Besides, the moment I saw that nobody was asking me anything officially, I started feeling more strongly that the story was true.

Daniel Leconte was quite indignant about the public secret of the staging: “You [France2] may know it [that staging happens all the time], but the public doesn’t. But then, reportedly, Jacques Attali told him to stand down and both he and Denis Jeambar used the excuse of Juffa’s leaked report of their encounter to bow out. Two more Zolas that never happened.

“Judging by the position of the Israeli and Palestinian gunmen at the time…”

Jean- Claude Schlinger, France’s leading ballistic expert reviewed the evidence and produced a detailed report. In this clip from Esther Schapira’s documentary Das Kind Der Tod Und Die Warheit, Schlinger sums up his conclusion that “ the shots can only have come from the Palestinian post “Pita, behind the photographers at a right angle to the Al Durahs”.

“Ballistic Tests Show…”

This clip narrated by Richard Landes shows the marked difference in appearance of the dust clouds produced when a bullet strikes a wall (like the one by which the Al Durah’s sheltered) from head-on and when a bullet strikes the same wall from a 30 degree angle. Palestinian gunmen firing that day were located at the Pita position directly across from the Al Durahs. The Israeli post was at a 30 degree angle to the Al Durahs. There has never been a claim that Israeli soldiers ventured outside their post that day.

In Depth Ballistic Analysis: Facing the Truth Head-On

The Israeli position was located approximately 80 meters from the barrel where the Al Durahs were located and at a 30 degree angle to it. If bullets fired from the Israeli position had struck the wall behind the Al Durahs the bullets would have left elliptical marks on the wall, not round ones. A round hole on the wall indicates that the source of fire making the impression thereon is located directly head-on to the wall.

In addition, the dust kicked up from a head-on gunshot toward a stone wall, such as the one behind the Al Durahs is relatively small and round in shape. A shot striking a wall from a 30 degree angle would produce a much larger dust cloud, elliptical in shape.

Near the beginning of the Al Durah sequence in Talal abu Rahma’s footage we see can a shot strike the wall. See the photos below, captured at Time Code Reading (TCR) 1:17:06:05 through TCR 1:17:06:23, followed by a frame taken at 1:17:07: 06, approximately one second after the shot hit the wall. The shot strikes at TCR 1:17:06:10 [24 seconds into France2’s September 30, 2000 broadcast] at a spot on the wall two blocks above Mohammed’s head and one block over to the left, as we face him. A that point, almost directly below the shot we see strike the wall, there already appears to be another bullet hole near Muhammad – one block above his head level and one block over to our left as we face the boy. This previous bullet hole is also round, evidencing a prior discharge from directly in front of the Al Durahs. BY frames at TCR 1:17:6:15 through 1:17:6:20 we can already discern the new hole clearly as the dust from the shot has dissipated and the camera focus is improved.

N.B. The dust cloud we see created by the one shot we see hitting the wall is clearly round, as is the hole created by the shot. In fact, all other bullet holes we see in the wall near the Al Durahs are similarly round in shape, indicating that all shots fired toward them emanated from the Palestinian position located at the “Pita” directly opposite the Al Durahs -and not from the Israeli position, which stood at a 30 degree angle to the site.

Click on Images Below to Expand

Testimony and a detailed report by French ballistics Jean-Claude Schlinger, who testified at the January installment of the Karsenty trial makes clear that the fire described by Abu Rahma and Enderlin as coming the Israeli position could not possibly have come from there given the ballistic evidence. France2 and Charles Enderlin have presented no ballistics evidence.

Below is the video of the bullet hitting the wall (both in real time and slow-motion) followed by “stills”, so that you can examine the footage frame by frame. First, the real time footage:

a-sm from Al Durah Project on Vimeo.

Here is the slowed down footage:

a-xsm from Al Durah Project on Vimeo.

a001

a006

1st bullet-a1st bullet-b

1st bullet-c

1st bullet-d

a011

a012

a013

a014

a016

a018

a027

Chronology of Al Durah Affair: 2013-?

2000

September 30, 2000:
Netzarim – Al-Durah. The father and son seek cover from gunfire and are shot, allegedly by Israelis; the son is killed and the father receives several gun wounds before he is evacuated to a hospital.

Charles Enderlin, Jerusalem bureau chief for France 2, declares the boy killed by Israeli fire, and all major news networks pick up the line. Enderlin and France 2 distribute the 55-second footage to all the networks free of charge.

October 1, 2000:
Southern Command general Yom Tov Samia first denies fault in the boy’s death,
pending an investigation (Israel TV Channel 1).

Talal Abu Rahma is interviewed on National Public Radio program All Things Considered. Host Jacki Lyden asks him to recount his version of the shooting. Listen to the interview, or read the transcript.

October 2, 2000
Robert Fisk, editor of The Independent , writes an article titled ‘Where caught in the crossfire can leave no room for doubt,’ about the press’s cowardice in its reluctance to implicate Israel in the killing of al-Durah.

The Telegraph (UK), though not as inflammatory as Fisk, notes al-Durah’s death as ‘a provocation for revenge attacks.’

October 3, 2000:

Cameraman Talal Abu Rahma signs a written statement giving his version of the events. It is available in English here.

Israeli chief of army operations Giora Eiland claims responsibility for and regret over al-Durah’s death ( BBC , CNN ) after a hurried preliminary investigation, thereby overriding Samia’s objections.

Award-winning journalist Suzanne Goldenberg, of the Guardian (UK), publishes a lengthy article titled ‘The Making of a Martyr,’ in which Mohammed is eulogized and Israelis demonized.

Paris daily Le Monde publishes two articles devoted to Mohammed al-Durah. One is called, ‘the death of a child,’ and the other, ‘the emblematic child of Palestine. Both articles lament the inhumanity of the murder, and, naturally, condemn the perpetrators harshly.

October 4, 2000

Le Monde reports that IDF major general Moshe Ya’alon admitted the possibility that one of his soldiers could have potentially mistaken the boy and his father for gunmen, and thus fired in their direction.

October 5, 2000

Jamal al-Durah “seeks international justice” for the killing of his son,
Mohammed. Jamal accuses the Israeli soldiers of murder.

October 6, 2000

The Arab League, meeting in Cairo, dedicates October 1 as the ‘day of Arab children,’ in honor of Mohammed al-Durra (El Mundo).

October 7, 2000

IDF destroys the wall behind which were hiding Jamal and Mohammed al-Durah, thereby relegating all future investigations of the incident to the realm of simulation.

October 8, 2000

Editorial published in the Boston Globe ( and since reprinted elsewhere ) by Israeli writer Helen Schary Motro describes a personal relationship with Jamal al-Durah, and paints a very different portrait of the man from that which can be gleaned from his other statements.

October 10, 2000

An article in Paris daily Le Monde discusses the losing battle Israel is waging in the war of images, largely a result of their murder of al-Durah, an obviously innocent victim.

October 11, 2000

Le Monde publishes a feature article about the life of Mohammed al-Durah, and the squalor in which is family continues to live after his death.

October 12, 2000

Le Monde discusses the most poignant images of the Intifada thus far, with that of al-Durah ranking at the top.

October 16, 2000

People Weekly runs a brief article about the Mohammed al-Durah tragedy titled “No Way Out: The death of a terrified Palestinian child, caught in a crossfire, shocks even a world accustomed to carnage.”

The Telegraph (UK) describes the determination of Palestinians at the outset of the Intifada. The article is called, ‘We’ll buy freedom with our blood, warn Gaza’s children.’

October 23, 2000

Physicist Nahum Shahaf and engineer Yosef Doriel lead a re-enactment of the scene under the auspices of Yom Tov Samia. The analysis raises serious doubts about Israel’s culpability. Doriel’s report can be seen here.

October 24, 2000
CBS’ 60 Minutes II, with Bob Simon, films an episode about the escalating Intifada. They dismiss the IDF investigation overtly, and Doriel is removed from the inquiry for prematurely presenting his provocative views to the crew.

October 25, 2000

Charles Enderlin gives an interview in French magazine Télérama, in which he asserts the following : “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.”

French daily Le Monde reports that Abu Rahma receives an award at the Journées cinématographiques de Carthage, and al-Durah is the ‘posthumous star’ of the event.

October 30, 2000

Jamal al-Durah participates in an online forum discussion on Arabia.com, in
which he answers questions about the shooting.

November 4, 2000

The New York Times reports that Physicians for Human Rights concluded, based on forensic evidence, that the death of Issam Judeh on October 8, 2000, was a result of a traffic accident, and not a murder, as Palestinian officials loudly claimed. Despite the finding, officials—citing the lack of an autopsy (prohibited in Muslim practice)—refused to concede their version of Judeh’s death. The Boston-based group, however, still maintained that Mohammed al-Durah was killed by Israeli M-16 rounds on September 30, 2000.

November 7, 2000

Ha’aretz journalist Anat Cygielman publishes a damning report on the IDF investigation headed by Nahum Shahaf and Yosef Doriel, calling the investigation amateurish.

November 8, 2000

Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz distances himself from the IDF investigation, saying it was the private initiative of Yom Tov Samia, head of Southern Command.

November 9, 2000

CNN reports on the surge in songs supporting the Intifada, recalling al-Durah in particular.

November 10, 2000

The editorial board of Ha’aretz harshly criticizes the ongoing IDF investigation in article entitled ‘Stupidity Marches On.’

November 27, 2000

The IDF officially releases the findings of its investigation. Samia claims the probability of Israeli bullets hitting the child is low. The press conference
receives negative attention in Israel. Charles Enderlin, meanwhile, reaffirms his confidence in Abu Rahma, his cameraman.

November 30, 2000

The London Review of Books (LBR) publishes Mahmoud Darwish’s ‘Requiem for Mohammad al-Dura,’ a poem portraying the boy as the symbol of the Intifada. Read the poem here .

December 2000

David Kupelian, managing editor of World Net Daily, publishes his exposé, ‘Who Killed Mohammed al-Dura?’ in which he posits that the boy was killed by his own people for purposes of propaganda.

December 19, 2000

Sarah Waheed, of Media Monitors Network, emboldened by al-Durah’s killing, writes an article titled, quite straightforwardly, ‘Israeli Army Kills Palestinian Children.’

December 24, 2000

More than 150 schools in Iran are named after Mohammed al-Durah, in solidarity with the Palestinian Intifada, reports IRNA, Iran’s news agency.

December 25, 2000

Time Magazine Europe names Mohammed al-Durah a Newsmaker for 2000.

2001

January 7, 2001
An article reenacting, in heartrending detail, Mohamed al-Durah’s final moments is posted on PalestineRemembered.com.

January 11, 2001

The Mirror (UK) interviews Jamal al-Durah in a very moving piece about the shooting.

January 17, 2001

Talal Abu Rahma is awarded ‘Le Prix de la Communication Culturelle Nord-Sud,’ though he is forced to share the prize with ‘all of the children of the Intifada.’

April 2, 2001

Talal Abu Rahma gives in interview with a Moroccan newspaper, Le Matin du Sahara et du Maghreb in which he explains that he went into Journalism “as a means to defend the Palestinian cause.”

May 2, 2001

Talal Abu Rahma is honored at the Arab Media Awards, though the evening’s real star was “Al Aqsa Intifada.”

July 30, 2001

Talal Abu Rahma, in an interview with the newspaper Al-Ahrar, reprinted by ArabicNews.com , reasserted his earlier claims of Israeli brutality in al-Durah’s killing.

September 30, 2001

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs publishes an article, “Death of a Palestinian Child,” in its August/September issue, in which proof is offered that Israel was the culprit in al-Durah’s death.

October 18, 2001

Talal Abu Rahma is awarded the Sony International Impact Award at the Rory Peck Trust Awards in London.

November 16, 2001

Julia Magnet, “a young, Jewish New-Yorker,” writing for the Telegraph (UK) describes Osama Bin Laden’s recruitment video in detail. On page 4, Mohammed al-Durah’s role in the video is elaborated upon. This is the video on which Magnet is commenting.

December 22, 2001

NPR’s On the Media devotes a program to ‘The Images of Mohammed al-Durah,’ in which Charles Enderlin, Jamal al-Durah, and Talal Abu Rahma are interviewed. Enderlin claims that “the sad story of Mohammed al-Durrah belongs to the sad reality of this region,” while Abu Rahma pledges proud loyalty to his nation—journalism.

2002

February 21, 2002

The video showing Daniel Pearl’s grisly murder is released. Mohammed al-Durah is portrayed repeatedly throughout the clip. Watch the video here (it is fairly gruesome—be advised).

March 18, 2002

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.

March 19, 2002

Several prominent Israeli dailies— Yediot Aharonot , the Jerusalem Post , Ha’aretz , Israel Insider and Israel National News/Arutz-7 —devote coverage to Schapira’s movie. Outside of Israel, however, the film makes little immediate impact.

March 20, 2002

Tom Segev, of Israeli daily Ha’aretz, publishes a scathing editorial on Schapira’s movie, dismissing its conclusions outright.

July 15, 2002

Amnon Lord, Israeli journalist and author publishes ‘Who killed Mohamed al-Dura? Blood Libel—Model 2000’ , arguing that indeed the event was staged.

September 19, 2002

Nahum Shahaf, physicist and leader of the IDF’s original investigation, is interviewed by the MENA. Shahaf vigorously contends that the event was entirely staged.

September 30, 2002

Talal abu Rahma sends a fax to France 2 offices in Jerusalem, rescinding his testimony of October 3, 2000, claiming that it was given under duress:

talal's fax

I never said to the Palestinian Human Rights organization in Gaza that the Israeli soldiers killed willfully and knowingly Mohamed al Durah ad wounded his father. All I always said in all the interviews I gave is that form where I was, I saw the shooting coming from the Israeli position. Talal Abu Rahma

October 1, 2002

France 2 director Olivier Mazerolle sends a letter of support to Charles Enderlin, saying France 2 is behind him.

Charles Gouz, a French physician, republishes an article on his website Desinfos.com an article by Stéphane Juffa of MENA condemning the protest and the award of the “Disinformation Prize” to Charles Enderlin. This article, available in French , was the alleged cause of France 2’s lawsuit against him.

Charles Enderlin gives an interview, in French , on Proch-orient.info, in which he makes a case for the legitimacy of his broadcast, citing, in large part, Israel’s admission of guilt in the matter.

October 2, 2002

France 2 director Olivier Mazerolle declares that Schapira’s film “does not present anything new.”

Thousands of demonstrators protest outside France 2 offices in Paris for their mishandling of the al-Durah footage. The Jewish Defense League debates, but ultimately does not, award Charles Enderlin the “Prize for Disinformation.”

October 4, 2002

Charles Enderlin denounces a campaign of intimidation against his family in the French magazine l’Humanité.

November 2002

The Metula News Agency (MENA) releases a documentary entitled ‘Al Dura – The Investigation’, in which they allege that the entire affair was staged.

November 18, 2002

The Metula News Agency (MENA) headed by Stéphane Juffa, requests a meeting
with France 2 in order to conduct an investigation of the al-Durah incident. France 2 does not reply.

December, 2002

In Le Monde Diplomatique, a monthly supplement to the daily Le Monde, Charles Enderlin lashes out at his critics ( subscription required ).

2003

January 13, 2003

French author Gérard Huber releases his book Contre-expertise d’un mise en scene (Editions Raphaël). In the book, Huber argues that the event was staged. An English summary of the book is available here . A review by Veronique Chemla, here; an interview with the author here.

March 5, 2003

David Kupelian of World Net Daily dramatically concludes , in the monthly Whistleblower, that the entire Mohammed al-Dura affair was a hoax. This article is reprinted in World Net Daily on April 26, 2003.

April 4, 2003

Amnon Lord publishes an article in Makor Rishon detailing General Samia’s misgivings about the culpability of Israeli soldiers in al-Durah’s death. It is available only in French .

June 2003

James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly becomes the first ‘mainstream’ journalist to shed light on the controversial issue. His conclusion is the minimal one: the Israelis could not have shot the boy.

Adam Rose, founder of SupportSanity.org , publishes a response to James Fallows on his website. He claims that the symbolic truth of the killing is more important than the factual truth, though he does not deny the factual truth.

June 13, 2003

Shehryar Fazli, writing for the Daily Times of Pakistan, attacks the ‘revisionists’ for trying to sully the symbolic significance of the al-Durah image.

July 1, 2003

Saudi designer Yahya al-Bishri designs a dress depicting the murder of Mohammed al-Durah.

July 10, 2003

Stéphane Juffa, of MENA, gives an interview , in French, on Primo-Europe, a French media watch site devoted to analyzing European coverage of the Middle East. He discusses Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, as well as the al-Durah case.

September 2003

Charles Enderlin responds to James Fallows’ article with a letter to the Atlantic Monthly: “We do not transform reality. But since some parts of the scene are unbearable, France 2 cut a few seconds from the scene, in accordance with our ethical charter.”
Esther Schapira also clarifies her position: “I’ve always said that I see more significant hints (but no proof) that he [Al Dura] was shot by Palestinians.”

December 25, 2003

Jean-Paul Ney, editor of the online magazine Le Confidentiel , publishes an article in the Metula News Agency (MENA), entitled “ Affaire Al-Dura : l’autopsie d’un mensonge .” It is reprinted in Le Confidentiel in its January/February 2004 issue.

2004

February 16, 2004

SNPCA, the union of which France 2 is a part, questions the director of France 2 regarding, among other things, the Mohammed al-Durah affair.

June 17, 2004

The Israel Hasbara Committee publishes an article by Nidra Poller and Gérard Huber titled ‘Blood Libel International,’ to, in which they outline the case thus far. It appeared originally at Makor Rishon, in Hebrew, and subsequently at Atlas Shrugs .

July 14, 2004

French filmmaker Pierre Rehov , in an article published in World Net Daily , reveals his beliefs that the al-Durah events were staged. Rehov has since committed himself in part to documenting this development.

August 27, 2004

The Jerusalem Post, in the last of a four-part series on Palestinian life four years
into the Intifada, publishes a feature article about the al-Durahs, and their continued manipulation at the hands of Hamas and Tanzim.

September 2004

Reader’s Digest examines past and present manipulations of news photography. Media Backspin excerpts the portion of the article discussing Mohammed al-Durah.

September 7, 2004

Lee Kaplan favorably reviews and analyzes Esther Schapira’s movie about the al-Durah affair on FrontPageMagazine.com.

October 22, 2004

France 2 relents under constant pressure and allows three journalists, Luc Rosenzweig, Denis Jeambar, and Daniel Leconte, to view the complete rushes of Talal from that day.

November 3, 2004

Stéphane Juffa relates, in page-turning prose, the deterioration of France 2’s circular arguments and insipid excuses when faced with the persistent skepticism of Rosenzweig, Leconte, and Jeambar. However, he mistakenly titles the piece “The al-Dura case: a dramatic conclusion.”

November 11, 2004

Juffa updates the public on the status of the al-Durah case in the online magazine FrontPageMagazine.com (English).

November 16, 2004

France 2 News Director, in an interview with French radio station Radio J, admits that it is impossible to know with 100% certainty whether the Israelis or the Palestinians killed the boy. The interview (in French and in mp3 format) is available here .

November 18, 2004

At a press conference, France 2 news director Arlette Chabot declares the station’s intention to file suit against defendants ‘X’ for defamation, in response to allegations that the al-Durah footage was staged. Available here (in French).

November 19, 2004

French magazine Télérama examines the possibility that the event was staged, presenting evidence from both sides.

November 22, 2004

Philippe Karsenty publishes an article on his website, Media Ratings, calling for the resignation of Charles Enderlin and Arlette Chabot. It is over this article that France 2 will sue Karsenty for defamation.

November 25, 2004

French MP Roland Blum writes to the Minister of Communication demanding
evidence that Mohammed al-Durah was in fact killed by Israeli soldiers.

November 26, 2004

Stéphane Juffa, of MENA, authors an article in the Wall Street Journal Europe titled “The Mythical Martyr.” It is reprinted here .

Nidra Poller publishes an article in the New York Sun lambasting the French media for its role in the scandal.

December 7, 2004

The French administrative body presiding over audio-visual media (CSA) meets to discuss France 2’s handling of the footage, following a complaint written by MENA writer Serge Farnel. Its recommendations are reprinted here , on Farnel’s website devoted to the al-Durah affair.

December 28, 2004

Alyssa Lappen writes an article in Front Page Magazine titled “The Israeli Crime That Wasn’t,” in which she discusses al-Durah and other media manipulations.

2005

January 13, 2005

Cybercast News Service publishes an article about France 2’s tactics in combating accusations made by Karsenty, Juffa, and others, about the authenticity of Mohammed al-Durah’s death.

World Editor’s Forum briefly expresses it concern that mainstream French has ignored “this polemical story”, though they take no stance on the authenticity of the al-Durah images.

January 20, 2005

Israel National News publishes an article about France 2’s campaign of intimidation against its critics.

January 25, 2005

Jeambar and Leconte publish an op-ed in French daily Le Figaro in which they deny any concrete proof that al-Durah was even killed.

January 27, 2005

Charles Enderlin responds to Jeambar and Leconte with an article in Le Figaro. He claims that “the image [of al-Dura] symbolized what was happening at the time not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank.”

February 1, 2005

Jeambar and Leconte are interviewed on Radio J, a Franco-Jewish radio station. They describe staged scenes for 24 out of the 27 minutes of the footage and speculate about the material evidence used to condemn the Israelis of al-Durah’s death.

February 3, 2005

Luc Rosenzweig, a French journalist, and writer for MENA, publishes an
article in French accusing Enderlin of lying about the nature of the footage.

February 6, 2005

An article in the International Herald Tribune summarizes the controversy thus far. Though the reporter was allowed to view the rushes, she did not conclude that the event was staged. The article is available here .

Pierre Lurçat, a French-born Israeli lawyer, and former member of the Ligue de Defense Juive, is summoned to appear in court on the charges of defamation against France 2 for his role in organizing the demonstrations of October 2, 2002.

February 10, 2005

In an Internet forum discussion on Nouvel Observateur, a French website, Charles Enderlin insists that the only difference he would make if he were presenting the al-Durah case again, would involve including the child’s death-throes [agonie] in the video footage.

February 15, 2005

Cybercast News Service writer Eva Cahen publishes an article detailing the ongoing controversy and interviewing some of the major players.

February 22, 2005

CAMERA reprints a piece Andrea Levin wrote for the Jerusalem Post a day earlier in which she accuses the French media of overt mendacity.

February 23, 2005

MENA head Stéphane Juffa attacks the ‘third way’ of Jeambar, Leconte, and Rosenzweig for not espousing the theory that the al-Durah murder was staged.

February 26, 2005

Elisabeth Lévy, of radio station France Culture, interviews Daniel Leconte about the power and influence of the Mohammed al-Durah images. A partial transcript here in French.

March 3, 2005

Clifford D. May, founder of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), calls on French president Jacques Chirac to exercise his authority and reveal the truth of the al-Durah matter .

March 13, 2005

A long entry on Big Bang Blog, by Daniel Schneidermann, analyzes the case and concludes that Charles Enderlin has been the unjust target of criticism ( in French )

April 20, 2005

IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon says, of al-Durah “One hundred percent he was not hit by IDF gunfire. He was apparently shot by a Palestinian police officer.”

September 2005

Commentary Magazine publishes a lengthy and in-depth article by Nidra Poller detailing the entire case and offering insightful commentary on the state of European—particularly French—press.

September 7, 2005

The International Herald Tribune publishes a feature piece on the al-Durah family titled, ‘One martyr from this family is enough.’ The article shows the manipulation of the al-Durah tragedy by Palestinian elites, and the continued suffering of the al-Durahs.

September 9, 2005

Yale professor David Gelernter authors a column in the Los Angeles Times in which he affirms that the Mohammed al-Durah shooting was staged, basing his conclusion in large part on Nidra Poller’s essay in Commentary magazine. The article is reprinted here .

September 13, 2005

World Net Daily comments on David Gelernter’s column in the Los Angeles Times, specifically regarding the latter’s delayed ‘discovery’ of the Mohammed al-Durah hoax. WND, of course, had been on the case for five years at that point. Managing editor David Kupelian even released a book, The Marketing of Evil, in which he deals with the al-Durah case at length.

September 15, 2005

Richard Landes, history professor at Boston University, launches his 20-minute documentary , Pallywood, on the Second Draft website. He argues that al-Durah is merely the most famous instance of a larger practice of staging news events among Palestinians.

September 28, 2005

Fawaz Turki, a senior columnist for Arab News, urges his readers to remember, on the five-year anniversary of the Intifada’s outbreak, the image of Mohammed al-Durah and its symbolic power.

December 2005

Richard Landes’ blog, the Augean Stables , is launched. It provides coverage of the al-Durah affair, as well as a running commentary on breaking news in Middle Eastern cinematography, politics, and current events .

December 12, 2005

Ma’ariv, an Israeli daily with no English translation, publishes an article speculating on the current well being of Mohammed al-Durah. Translated into English by Richard Landes.

December 20, 2005

The al-Durah dossier and movie is made available on the Second Draft.

2006

March 14, 2006

Media watch group ACMEDIAS posts a petition on their site, complete with 4000 signatures, in an attempt to force France 2 to release the al-Durah footage to the public.

May 14, 2006

Yosef Duriel, the engineer who wrote a report about the original IDF investigation in October 2000, sued Aharon Hauptman regarding a letter Hauptman wrote to Ha’aretz in November 2000 criticizing Duriel’s investigation. Judge Shoshana Almagor ruled in favor of the defendant, further attacking the plaintiff’s report.

May 16, 2006

Front Page Magazine’s Jamie Glazov interviews Karsenty on subjects ranging from al-Dura to French anti-Semitism to France’s economic situation. Among other things, Karsenty says the following: “the Al Dura controversy is the biggest media scandal in the world.”

May 24, 2006

World Net Daily writer Cinnamon Shenker writes an article about Karsenty , and the upcoming trial against him.

June 17, 2006

Charles Enderlin participates in a panel discussion on the radio program “L’Hebdo du médiateur,” (The Weekly Moderator), in which he reasserts the authenticity of the original footage, citing the ruling against Duriel as proof. A transcript of the show in French appears at Debriefing.org.

September 10, 2006

In anticipation of the trial, Honest Reporting interviews Philippe Karsenty about the case, the al-Durah video, and the implications of the lawsuits.

September 14, 2006

The first trial in France 2’s defamation suit commences. Philippe Karsenty, founder and editor of Media Ratings , is the defendant. The Augean Stables , Pajamas Media , and Le Figaro , a Paris daily, all cover the proceedings extensively.

September 16, 2006

French daily Le Figaro covers the al Durah trial.

September 17, 2006

The International Herald Tribune covers the first round of the France 2 trials.

October 17, 2006

Richard Landes publishes an article in The New Republic, called Camera Obscura: How French TV fudged the death of Mohammed Al Durah.

October 19, 2006

The French judicial system rules in favor of France 2 in its suit accusing Philippe Karsenty of defamation. An English version of the court’s decision is available at the Augean Stables .

French weekly L’Express runs an article on the court’s decision. The English translation, as well as a sound and thorough Fisking is available at the Augean Stables.

Israeli news network Arutz 7 also covers the trial.

Ellen Horowitz publishes Part I of her three-part series, ‘Between Art and News’ at Israel Insider and Israel Hasbara Committee.

October 20, 2006

Part 2 of ‘Between Art and News’, by Ellen Horowitz, appears at Israel Insider.

October 23, 2006

Caroline Glick, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post calls the al Durah affair a Prime-time Blood LIbel after a French court ruled Phillippe Karsenty guilty of defamation.

The Scotsman, a Scottish paper, runs an article on the outcome of the trial.

Part 3 of ‘Between Art and News’, by Ellen Horowitz, appears at Israel Insider.

November 3, 2006

The World Politics Review publishes an article by John Rosenthal on the results of the trial.

November 28, 2006

France 2 loses its lawsuit against Pierre Lurcat, also sued by the channel for defamation. Pajamas Media carries the story.

2007

June 13, 2007

Richard Landes releases his latest movie, Icon of Hatred. It is available at The Second Draft and YouTube: Part 1 and Part 2.

August 29, 2007

Front Page Magazine previews the upcoming Karsenty appeal, and painstakingly reviews the history of the case.

September 3, 2007

Richard Landes posts a petition demanding France 2 release the “Secret Muhammad al Durah Tapes.” The petition is available to sign here.

September 12, 2007

Philippe Karsenty’s appeal of the decision in France 2’s lawsuit against him for defamation in 2006 is heard before a French court.

September 16, 2007

Marty Peretz discusses al Durah at his blog, The Spine.

September 17, 2007

The IDF formally requests, from France 2, the complete rushes pertaining to the al Durah incident. The text of the request is availabe in French at the Augean Stables . The AP , Ha’aretz , Ma’ariv , and the Jerusalem Post cover the story.

September 19, 2007

The French appeals court judge orders the release of France2 video footage for review in court.

October 1, 2007

GPO Director Danny Seaman releases formal written acknowledgement that he considers the Al-Durah footage staged, but will not seek to revoke France2’s press credentials.

October 1, 2007

Jamal Al-Durah, Muhammed’s father, calls allegations that the footage was staged ridiculous in interview with Israel News.

October 2, 2007

James Fallows publishes a follow-up article entitled, “News on the al-Dura Front: Israeli Finding that it was Staged”, in which he declares that he is not ready to declare the affair a hoax, but he is intrigued by the efforts of Landes, et al.

October 3, 2007

The French court of Appeals issues an order to France2 to deliver the rushes to them by October 31 for viewing in court on November 14.

Arad Nir writes “All the Children are Like Yours” in Yediot Achronot, positing that it is a waste of time arguing over who killed Al-Durah. He was merely a symbol in a conflict that has claimed thousands of children.

October 4, 2007

Palestinian “Human Rights Group” calls for “impartial” investigation into the Al-Durah affair.

October 7, 2007

Gideon Levy writes “Mohammed al-Dura Lives On” in Haaretz, arguing that it does not matter if the IDF killed Al-Durah, since they have killed many Palestinian children.

November 12, 2007

BBC News publishes “Dispute Rages over al-Durrah Footage”, by Martin Patience, an uninformed piece that does not attest to serious coverage by the BBC.

November 14, 2007

Charles Enderlin presents an edited version of the rushes, only eighteen minutes (hence with about three minutes cut), in court.

November 18, 2007

Hamas security forces briefly detain Jamal al-Dura, and question him about allegedly shooting in the air during a wedding.

January 8, 2008

Israeli lawyers for France2 send letter of protest to organizers of conference at the IDC in Herzliya at which Richard Landes is speaking on “Icon of Hatred: The Muhammad al Dura Affair: From Media to Internet to Courtroom:

January 17, 2008

Charles Enderlin speaks at Harvard’s Center for European Studies about his new book, The Lost Years.

February 27, 2008

Trial hearing in France, with formal presentation of arguments. A hot, contentious, seven-hour long hearing pits an extremely prepared Philippe Karsenty and his lawyers against an nonchalant Charles Enderlin and his sarcastic lawyers until almost 10 PM. The judge allows Karsenty’s Powerpoint presentation to be shown in court.

Jean-Claude Schlinger, French ballistics expert who has been featured in French courts for two decades, presents his findings to the court that the IDF could not have killed Muhammad Al-Dura.

Charles Enderlin claims that if the Israelis had the slightest suspicion that Talal had cheated in his report on al Durah, they would have taken away his credentials.

April 23, 2008

France2 rushes up at Youtube.

May 21, 2008

The judge of the Karsenty appeals case dismisses all charges against Karsenty, overturning the lower court’s decision.

May 22, 2008

Enderlin declares on his blog that he will take the case to the highest French appeals court.

May 28, 2008

Writing in The Jerusalem Post, Larry Derfner calls Landes, Karsenty, et al, “conspiracy freaks”.

May 29, 2008

The Jerusalem Post runs an editorial on the lessons of the Al-Durah affair, entitled, “Myth & Muhammad al-Dura”.

June 4, 2008

Le Nouvel Obs publishes a petition of solidarity with Charles Enderlin, denouncing the attacks on the freedom and reputation of journalists in the case.

June 11, 2008

Richard Landes and Phillipe Karsenty publish their response to Larry Derfner’s charges in The Jerusalem Post.

June 12, 2008

The Jerusalem Post runs an article about the ongoing feud between Karsenty and the AJC.

June 13, 2008

Figaro columnist Ivan Rioufol denounces the Nouvel Obs petition supporting Charles Enderlin.

Israeli Ambassador to Franc Elie Barnavi comes out against Enderlin and France2 in the indepedent French publication Marianne.

June 18, 2008

Larry Derfner again makes his case against the “conspiracy freaks” Karsenty and Landes in his Jerusalem Post column.

June 20, 2008

Israeli newspaper Maariv runs feature in their weekend supplement on the al-Durah affair, “Just Don’t Touch their Symbol”.

June 21, 2008

The principle Palestinian Newspaper, Al-Quds, publishes a translation of an article on the Karsenty-Enderlin decision written by a reporter at The Media Line. This is the first time that Palestinian media have covered the unraveling of the Al Durah story.

June 27, 2008

Melanie Phillips’ article in Standpoint, ” Faking a Killing”, becomes the most-emailed and commented upon article in the issue.

June 28, 2008

Enderlin respond’s to Elie Barnavi’s article on his blog.

July 7, 2008

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet writes “L’Affaire Enderlin: Being a French Journalist Means Never having to Say You’re Sorry” in The Weekly Standard, after having spoken with two-thirds of the signers of the Nouvel Obs petition.

2009

March 4, 2009

The German public broadcaster ARD airs a 52-minute documentary, with reporting by Esther Schapira and Georg Hafner, indicating that the France 2 footage of al-Durah appeared to be staged. A short French summary of the film is available at DesInfos.com

July 14, 2009

Bernard Kouchner, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, awards the Legion of Honour to Charles Enderlin.

2010

May 2010

The prestigious PUF (Presses Universitaires de France) publishes “The New anti-Jewish Propaganda” by Pierre-André Taguieff, which devotes 100 pages to the al-Durah case.

June 10, 2010

Philippe Karsenty wins a defamation suit against Canal + for their broadcast “The Counterfeiters of Information.” The text of the court decision, in French.

Meanwhile, Karsenty’s defamation lawsuit against L’Express is dismissed on the grounds that the journalist, Vincent Hugeux, had relied upon the reporting of Canal +.

September 2010

Robert Menard’s magazine “Medias” publishes a 5 page interview with Philippe Karsenty.

Robert Menard tells Jean Robin during a podcast interview on the website “Enquete et Debat” that he was pressured not to publish the article.

October 7, 2010

Charles Enderlin publishes a book about al-Durah entitled “A Child is Dead” (http://www.donquichotte-editions.com/documents/un-enfant-est-mort/) which defends his reporting.

October 21, 2010

The Israeli Prime Minister’s office issues an official statement declaring that “it was not right to impose on the IDF and the State of Israel responsibility for the Muhammad Al Dura episode.” The statement cites the investigation of the German network ARD as well as the original IDF investigation.

November 11, 2010:

The Canadian television network CTS organizes the first adversarial debate (in English) on the Al-Dura.controversy.

2011

8 May 2011

Judea Pearl, the father of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, sends a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy requesting that he “denounce” what he refers to as the “anti-Semitic lie” of the al-Durah story. In the video of Pearl’s assassination by jihadists which was broadcast on the internet, images of the France 2 footage of al-Durah were shown in the background. Phillippe Karsenty hands the letter to the President.

2012

January 5, 2012

Canal + lose their appeal of their conviction for defamation of Phillippe Karsenty and are sentenced. The Appeal Court decision (in French).

14 February 2012

The French Supreme Court takes up the appeal of France 2 and Charles Enderlin of the Appeals Court dismissal of their defamation suit against Philippe Karsenty. The Advocate General had filed an opinion recommending dismissal of the appeal.

15 February 2012

Dr. Yehuda David wins his appeal of defamation charges against him by Jamal al Dura, following the publication of the article published by Clément Weill-Raynal, Jewish News, entitled “The Wounds of Jamal al Dura already existed in 1993, without any Possible Ambiguity.” A detailed article about the case, in French, by Véronique Chemla.

February 28, 2012

The French Supreme Court overturns the judgment of the Court of Appeals, rendered on May 21 2008, dismissing the defamation charges against Phillippe Karsenty. The basis of the decision is that the Court of Appeals was wrong to have ordered France 2 to show the complete footage shot the day of the al-Durah incident, on the grounds that a court cannot help the accused prove his innocence. Therefore, another hearing was ordered where the issues could be re-litigated, but without the screening of the France 2 footage. The Court of Cassation decision, in French.

2013

January 16, 2013

The new Karsenty defamation trial is currently set for January 16, 2013.

April 6, 2013

Date of Court Decision: Court announces a delay to May 22. No explanation given.

May 20, 2013

Kuperwasser Commission Report on Al Durah presented to Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu by Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz. Report receives extensive news coverage.

May 22, 2013

Court again delays decision, this time until June 26. No explanation given.

 

Chronology of the Al Durah Affair, 2000-?

2000

September 30, 2000: 
Netzarim – Al-Durah. The father and son seek cover from gunfire and are shot, allegedly by Israelis; the son is killed and the father receives several gun wounds before he is evacuated to a hospital.

Charles Enderlin, Jerusalem bureau chief for France 2, declares the boy killed by Israeli fire, and all major news networks pick up the line. Enderlin and France 2 distribute the 55-second footage to all the networks free of charge.

October 1, 2000:
Southern Command general Yom Tov Samia first denies fault in the boy’s death,
pending an investigation (Israel TV Channel 1).

Talal Abu Rahma is interviewed on National Public Radio program All Things Considered. Host Jacki Lyden asks him to recount his version of the shooting. Listen to the interview, or read the transcript.

October 2, 2000
Robert Fisk, editor of The Independent , writes an article titled ‘Where caught in the crossfire can leave no room for doubt,’ about the press’s cowardice in its reluctance to implicate Israel in the killing of al-Durah.

The Telegraph (UK), though not as inflammatory as Fisk, notes al-Durah’s death as ‘a provocation for revenge attacks.’

October 3, 2000:

Cameraman Talal Abu Rahma signs a written statement giving his version of the events. It is available in English here.

Israeli chief of army operations Giora Eiland claims responsibility for and regret over al-Durah’s death ( BBC CNN ) after a hurried preliminary investigation, thereby overriding Samia’s objections.

Award-winning journalist Suzanne Goldenberg, of the Guardian (UK), publishes a lengthy article titled ‘The Making of a Martyr,’ in which Mohammed is eulogized and Israelis demonized.

Paris daily Le Monde publishes two articles devoted to Mohammed al-Durah. One is called, ‘the death of a child,’ and the other, ‘the emblematic child of Palestine. Both articles lament the inhumanity of the murder, and, naturally, condemn the perpetrators harshly.

October 4, 2000

Le Monde reports that IDF major general Moshe Ya’alon admitted the possibility that one of his soldiers could have potentially mistaken the boy and his father for gunmen, and thus fired in their direction.

October 5, 2000

Jamal al-Durah “seeks international justice” for the killing of his son,
Mohammed. Jamal accuses the Israeli soldiers of murder.

October 6, 2000

The Arab League, meeting in Cairo, dedicates October 1 as the ‘day of Arab children,’ in honor of Mohammed al-Durra (El Mundo).

October 7, 2000

IDF destroys the wall behind which were hiding Jamal and Mohammed al-Durah, thereby relegating all future investigations of the incident to the realm of simulation.

October 8, 2000

Editorial published in the Boston Globe ( and since reprinted elsewhere ) by Israeli writer Helen Schary Motro describes a personal relationship with Jamal al-Durah, and paints a very different portrait of the man from that which can be gleaned from his other statements.

October 10, 2000

An article in Paris daily Le Monde discusses the losing battle Israel is waging in the war of images, largely a result of their murder of al-Durah, an obviously innocent victim.

October 11, 2000

Le Monde publishes a feature article about the life of Mohammed al-Durah, and the squalor in which is family continues to live after his death.

October 12, 2000

Le Monde discusses the most poignant images of the Intifada thus far, with that of al-Durah ranking at the top.

October 16, 2000

People Weekly runs a brief article about the Mohammed al-Durah tragedy titled “No Way Out: The death of a terrified Palestinian child, caught in a crossfire, shocks even a world accustomed to carnage.”

The Telegraph (UK) describes the determination of Palestinians at the outset of the Intifada. The article is called, ‘We’ll buy freedom with our blood, warn Gaza’s children.’

October 23, 2000

Physicist Nahum Shahaf and engineer Yosef Doriel lead a re-enactment of the scene under the auspices of Yom Tov Samia. The analysis raises serious doubts about Israel’s culpability. Doriel’s report can be seen here.

October 24, 2000
CBS’ 60 Minutes II, with Bob Simon, films an episode about the escalating Intifada. They dismiss the IDF investigation overtly, and Doriel is removed from the inquiry for prematurely presenting his provocative views to the crew.

October 25, 2000

Charles Enderlin gives an interview in French magazine Télérama, in which he asserts the following : “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.”

French daily Le Monde reports that Abu Rahma receives an award at the Journées cinématographiques de Carthage, and al-Durah is the ‘posthumous star’ of the event.

October 30, 2000

Jamal al-Durah participates in an online forum discussion on Arabia.com, in
which he answers questions about the shooting.

November 4, 2000

The New York Times reports that Physicians for Human Rights concluded, based on forensic evidence, that the death of Issam Judeh on October 8, 2000, was a result of a traffic accident, and not a murder, as Palestinian officials loudly claimed. Despite the finding, officials—citing the lack of an autopsy (prohibited in Muslim practice)—refused to concede their version of Judeh’s death. The Boston-based group, however, still maintained that Mohammed al-Durah was killed by Israeli M-16 rounds on September 30, 2000.

November 7, 2000

Ha’aretz journalist Anat Cygielman publishes a damning report on the IDF investigation headed by Nahum Shahaf and Yosef Doriel, calling the investigation amateurish.

November 8, 2000

Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz distances himself from the IDF investigation, saying it was the private initiative of Yom Tov Samia, head of Southern Command.

November 9, 2000

CNN reports on the surge in songs supporting the Intifada, recalling al-Durah in particular.

November 10, 2000

The editorial board of Ha’aretz harshly criticizes the ongoing IDF investigation in article entitled ‘Stupidity Marches On.’

November 27, 2000

The IDF officially releases the findings of its investigation. Samia claims the probability of Israeli bullets hitting the child is low. The press conference
receives negative attention in Israel. Charles Enderlin, meanwhile, reaffirms his confidence in Abu Rahma, his cameraman.

November 30, 2000

The London Review of Books (LBR) publishes Mahmoud Darwish’s ‘Requiem for Mohammad al-Dura,’ a poem portraying the boy as the symbol of the Intifada. Read the poem here .

December 2000

David Kupelian, managing editor of World Net Daily, publishes his exposé, ‘Who Killed Mohammed al-Dura?’ in which he posits that the boy was killed by his own people for purposes of propaganda.

December 19, 2000

Sarah Waheed, of Media Monitors Network, emboldened by al-Durah’s killing, writes an article titled, quite straightforwardly, ‘Israeli Army Kills Palestinian Children.’

December 24, 2000

More than 150 schools in Iran are named after Mohammed al-Durah, in solidarity with the Palestinian Intifada, reports IRNA, Iran’s news agency.

December 25, 2000

Time Magazine Europe names Mohammed al-Durah a Newsmaker for 2000.

2001

January 7, 2001
An article reenacting, in heartrending detail, Mohamed al-Durah’s final moments is posted on PalestineRemembered.com.

January 11, 2001

The Mirror (UK) interviews Jamal al-Durah in a very moving piece about the shooting.

January 17, 2001

Talal Abu Rahma is awarded ‘Le Prix de la Communication Culturelle Nord-Sud,’ though he is forced to share the prize with ‘all of the children of the Intifada.’

April 2, 2001

Talal Abu Rahma gives in interview with a Moroccan newspaper, Le Matin du Sahara et du Maghreb in which he explains that he went into Journalism “as a means to defend the Palestinian cause.”

May 2, 2001

Talal Abu Rahma is honored at the Arab Media Awards, though the evening’s real star was “Al Aqsa Intifada.”

July 30, 2001

Talal Abu Rahma, in an interview with the newspaper Al-Ahrar, reprinted by ArabicNews.com , reasserted his earlier claims of Israeli brutality in al-Durah’s killing.

September 30, 2001

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs publishes an article, “Death of a Palestinian Child,” in its August/September issue, in which proof is offered that Israel was the culprit in al-Durah’s death.

October 18, 2001

Talal Abu Rahma is awarded the Sony International Impact Award at the Rory Peck Trust Awards in London.

November 16, 2001

Julia Magnet, “a young, Jewish New-Yorker,” writing for the Telegraph (UK) describes Osama Bin Laden’s recruitment video in detail. On page 4, Mohammed al-Durah’s role in the video is elaborated upon. This is the video on which Magnet is commenting.

December 22, 2001

NPR’s On the Media devotes a program to ‘The Images of Mohammed al-Durah,’ in which Charles Enderlin, Jamal al-Durah, and Talal Abu Rahma are interviewed. Enderlin claims that “the sad story of Mohammed al-Durrah belongs to the sad reality of this region,” while Abu Rahma pledges proud loyalty to his nation—journalism.

2002

February 21, 2002

The video showing Daniel Pearl’s grisly murder is released. Mohammed al-Durah is portrayed repeatedly throughout the clip. Watch the video here (it is fairly gruesome—be advised).

March 18, 2002

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.

March 19, 2002

Several prominent Israeli dailies— Yediot Aharonot , the Jerusalem Post Ha’aretz Israel Insider and Israel National News/Arutz-7 —devote coverage to Schapira’s movie. Outside of Israel, however, the film makes little immediate impact.

March 20, 2002

Tom Segev, of Israeli daily Ha’aretz, publishes a scathing editorial on Schapira’s movie, dismissing its conclusions outright.

July 15, 2002

Amnon Lord, Israeli journalist and author publishes ‘Who killed Mohamed al-Dura? Blood Libel—Model 2000’ , arguing that indeed the event was staged.

September 19, 2002

Nahum Shahaf, physicist and leader of the IDF’s original investigation, is interviewed by the MENA. Shahaf vigorously contends that the event was entirely staged.

September 30, 2002

Talal abu Rahma sends a fax to France 2 offices in Jerusalem, rescinding his testimony of October 3, 2000, claiming that it was given under duress:

talal's fax

I never said to the Palestinian Human Rights organization in Gaza that the Israeli soldiers killed willfully and knowingly Mohamed al Durah ad wounded his father. All I always said in all the interviews I gave is that form where I was, I saw the shooting coming from the Israeli position. Talal Abu Rahma

October 1, 2002

France 2 director Olivier Mazerolle sends a letter of support to Charles Enderlin, saying France 2 is behind him.

Charles Gouz, a French physician, republishes an article on his website Desinfos.com an article by Stéphane Juffa of MENA condemning the protest and the award of the “Disinformation Prize” to Charles Enderlin. This article, available in French , was the alleged cause of France 2’s lawsuit against him.

Charles Enderlin gives an interview, in French , on Proch-orient.info, in which he makes a case for the legitimacy of his broadcast, citing, in large part, Israel’s admission of guilt in the matter.

October 2, 2002

France 2 director Olivier Mazerolle declares that Schapira’s film “does not present anything new.”

Thousands of demonstrators protest outside France 2 offices in Paris for their mishandling of the al-Durah footage. The Jewish Defense League debates, but ultimately does not, award Charles Enderlin the “Prize for Disinformation.”

October 4, 2002

Charles Enderlin denounces a campaign of intimidation against his family in the French magazine l’Humanité.

November 2002

The Metula News Agency (MENA) releases a documentary entitled ‘Al Dura – The Investigation’, in which they allege that the entire affair was staged.

November 18, 2002

The Metula News Agency (MENA) headed by Stéphane Juffa, requests a meeting
with France 2 in order to conduct an investigation of the al-Durah incident. France 2 does not reply.

December, 2002

In Le Monde Diplomatique, a monthly supplement to the daily Le Monde, Charles Enderlin lashes out at his critics ( subscription required ).

2003

January 13, 2003

French author Gérard Huber releases his book Contre-expertise d’un mise en scene (Editions Raphaël). In the book, Huber argues that the event was staged. An English summary of the book is available here . A review by Veronique Chemla, here; an interview with the author here.

March 5, 2003

David Kupelian of World Net Daily dramatically concludes , in the monthly Whistleblower, that the entire Mohammed al-Dura affair was a hoax. This article is reprinted in World Net Daily on April 26, 2003.

April 4, 2003

Amnon Lord publishes an article in Makor Rishon detailing General Samia’s misgivings about the culpability of Israeli soldiers in al-Durah’s death. It is available only in French .

June 2003

James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly becomes the first ‘mainstream’ journalist to shed light on the controversial issue. His conclusion is the minimal one: the Israelis could not have shot the boy.

Adam Rose, founder of SupportSanity.org , publishes a response to James Fallows on his website. He claims that the symbolic truth of the killing is more important than the factual truth, though he does not deny the factual truth.

June 13, 2003

Shehryar Fazli, writing for the Daily Times of Pakistan, attacks the ‘revisionists’ for trying to sully the symbolic significance of the al-Durah image.

July 1, 2003

Saudi designer Yahya al-Bishri designs a dress depicting the murder of Mohammed al-Durah.

July 10, 2003

Stéphane Juffa, of MENA, gives an interview , in French, on Primo-Europe, a French media watch site devoted to analyzing European coverage of the Middle East. He discusses Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, as well as the al-Durah case.

September 2003

Charles Enderlin responds to James Fallows’ article with a letter to the Atlantic Monthly: “We do not transform reality. But since some parts of the scene are unbearable, France 2 cut a few seconds from the scene, in accordance with our ethical charter.”
Esther Schapira also clarifies her position: “I’ve always said that I see more significant hints (but no proof) that he [Al Dura] was shot by Palestinians.”

December 25, 2003

Jean-Paul Ney, editor of the online magazine Le Confidentiel , publishes an article in the Metula News Agency (MENA), entitled “ Affaire Al-Dura : l’autopsie d’un mensonge .” It is reprinted in Le Confidentiel in its January/February 2004 issue.

2004

February 16, 2004

SNPCA, the union of which France 2 is a part, questions the director of France 2 regarding, among other things, the Mohammed al-Durah affair.

June 17, 2004

The Israel Hasbara Committee publishes an article by Nidra Poller and Gérard Huber titled ‘Blood Libel International,’ to, in which they outline the case thus far. It appeared originally at Makor Rishon, in Hebrew, and subsequently at Atlas Shrugs .

July 14, 2004

French filmmaker Pierre Rehov , in an article published in World Net Daily , reveals his beliefs that the al-Durah events were staged. Rehov has since committed himself in part to documenting this development.

August 27, 2004

The Jerusalem Post, in the last of a four-part series on Palestinian life four years
into the Intifada, publishes a feature article about the al-Durahs, and their continued manipulation at the hands of Hamas and Tanzim.

September 2004

Reader’s Digest examines past and present manipulations of news photography. Media Backspin excerpts the portion of the article discussing Mohammed al-Durah.

September 7, 2004

Lee Kaplan favorably reviews and analyzes Esther Schapira’s movie about the al-Durah affair on FrontPageMagazine.com.

October 22, 2004

France 2 relents under constant pressure and allows three journalists, Luc Rosenzweig, Denis Jeambar, and Daniel Leconte, to view the complete rushes of Talal from that day.

November 3, 2004

Stéphane Juffa relates, in page-turning prose, the deterioration of France 2’s circular arguments and insipid excuses when faced with the persistent skepticism of Rosenzweig, Leconte, and Jeambar. However, he mistakenly titles the piece “The al-Dura case: a dramatic conclusion.”

November 11, 2004

Juffa updates the public on the status of the al-Durah case in the online magazine FrontPageMagazine.com (English).

November 16, 2004

France 2 News Director, in an interview with French radio station Radio J, admits that it is impossible to know with 100% certainty whether the Israelis or the Palestinians killed the boy. The interview (in French and in mp3 format) is available here .

November 18, 2004

At a press conference, France 2 news director Arlette Chabot declares the station’s intention to file suit against defendants ‘X’ for defamation, in response to allegations that the al-Durah footage was staged. Available here (in French).

November 19, 2004

French magazine Télérama examines the possibility that the event was staged, presenting evidence from both sides.

November 22, 2004

Philippe Karsenty publishes an article on his website, Media Ratings, calling for the resignation of Charles Enderlin and Arlette Chabot. It is over this article that France 2 will sue Karsenty for defamation.

November 25, 2004

French MP Roland Blum writes to the Minister of Communication demanding
evidence that Mohammed al-Durah was in fact killed by Israeli soldiers.

November 26, 2004

Stéphane Juffa, of MENA, authors an article in the Wall Street Journal Europe titled “The Mythical Martyr.” It is reprinted here .

Nidra Poller publishes an article in the New York Sun lambasting the French media for its role in the scandal.

December 7, 2004

The French administrative body presiding over audio-visual media (CSA) meets to discuss France 2’s handling of the footage, following a complaint written by MENA writer Serge Farnel. Its recommendations are reprinted here , on Farnel’s website devoted to the al-Durah affair.

December 28, 2004

Alyssa Lappen writes an article in Front Page Magazine titled “The Israeli Crime That Wasn’t,” in which she discusses al-Durah and other media manipulations.

2005

January 13, 2005

Cybercast News Service publishes an article about France 2’s tactics in combating accusations made by Karsenty, Juffa, and others, about the authenticity of Mohammed al-Durah’s death.

World Editor’s Forum briefly expresses it concern that mainstream French has ignored “this polemical story”, though they take no stance on the authenticity of the al-Durah images.

January 20, 2005

Israel National News publishes an article about France 2’s campaign of intimidation against its critics.

January 25, 2005

Jeambar and Leconte publish an op-ed in French daily Le Figaro in which they deny any concrete proof that al-Durah was even killed.

January 27, 2005

Charles Enderlin responds to Jeambar and Leconte with an article in Le Figaro. He claims that “the image [of al-Dura] symbolized what was happening at the time not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank.”

February 1, 2005

Jeambar and Leconte are interviewed on Radio J, a Franco-Jewish radio station. They describe staged scenes for 24 out of the 27 minutes of the footage and speculate about the material evidence used to condemn the Israelis of al-Durah’s death.

February 3, 2005

Luc Rosenzweig, a French journalist, and writer for MENA, publishes an
article in French accusing Enderlin of lying about the nature of the footage.

February 6, 2005

An article in the International Herald Tribune summarizes the controversy thus far. Though the reporter was allowed to view the rushes, she did not conclude that the event was staged. The article is available here .

Pierre Lurçat, a French-born Israeli lawyer, and former member of the Ligue de Defense Juive, is summoned to appear in court on the charges of defamation against France 2 for his role in organizing the demonstrations of October 2, 2002.

February 10, 2005

In an Internet forum discussion on Nouvel Observateur, a French website, Charles Enderlin insists that the only difference he would make if he were presenting the al-Durah case again, would involve including the child’s death-throes [agonie] in the video footage.

February 15, 2005

Cybercast News Service writer Eva Cahen publishes an article detailing the ongoing controversy and interviewing some of the major players.

February 22, 2005

CAMERA reprints a piece Andrea Levin wrote for the Jerusalem Post a day earlier in which she accuses the French media of overt mendacity.

February 23, 2005

MENA head Stéphane Juffa attacks the ‘third way’ of Jeambar, Leconte, and Rosenzweig for not espousing the theory that the al-Durah murder was staged.

February 26, 2005

Elisabeth Lévy, of radio station France Culture, interviews Daniel Leconte about the power and influence of the Mohammed al-Durah images. A partial transcript here in French.

March 3, 2005

Clifford D. May, founder of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), calls on French president Jacques Chirac to exercise his authority and reveal the truth of the al-Durah matter .

March 13, 2005

A long entry on Big Bang Blog, by Daniel Schneidermann, analyzes the case and concludes that Charles Enderlin has been the unjust target of criticism ( in French )

April 20, 2005

IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon says, of al-Durah “One hundred percent he was not hit by IDF gunfire. He was apparently shot by a Palestinian police officer.”

September 2005

Commentary Magazine publishes a lengthy and in-depth article by Nidra Poller detailing the entire case and offering insightful commentary on the state of European—particularly French—press.

September 7, 2005

The International Herald Tribune publishes a feature piece on the al-Durah family titled, ‘One martyr from this family is enough.’ The article shows the manipulation of the al-Durah tragedy by Palestinian elites, and the continued suffering of the al-Durahs.

September 9, 2005

Yale professor David Gelernter authors a column in the Los Angeles Times in which he affirms that the Mohammed al-Durah shooting was staged, basing his conclusion in large part on Nidra Poller’s essay in Commentary magazine. The article is reprinted here .

September 13, 2005

World Net Daily comments on David Gelernter’s column in the Los Angeles Times, specifically regarding the latter’s delayed ‘discovery’ of the Mohammed al-Durah hoax. WND, of course, had been on the case for five years at that point. Managing editor David Kupelian even released a book, The Marketing of Evil, in which he deals with the al-Durah case at length.

September 15, 2005

Richard Landes, history professor at Boston University, launches his 20-minute documentary , Pallywood, on the Second Draft website. He argues that al-Durah is merely the most famous instance of a larger practice of staging news events among Palestinians.

September 28, 2005

Fawaz Turki, a senior columnist for Arab News, urges his readers to remember, on the five-year anniversary of the Intifada’s outbreak, the image of Mohammed al-Durah and its symbolic power.

December 2005

Richard Landes’ blog, the Augean Stables , is launched. It provides coverage of the al-Durah affair, as well as a running commentary on breaking news in Middle Eastern cinematography, politics, and current events .

December 12, 2005

Ma’ariv, an Israeli daily with no English translation, publishes an article speculating on the current well being of Mohammed al-Durah. Translated into English by Richard Landes.

December 20, 2005

The al-Durah dossier and movie is made available on the Second Draft.

2006

March 14, 2006

Media watch group ACMEDIAS posts a petition on their site, complete with 4000 signatures, in an attempt to force France 2 to release the al-Durah footage to the public.

May 14, 2006

Yosef Duriel, the engineer who wrote a report about the original IDF investigation in October 2000, sued Aharon Hauptman regarding a letter Hauptman wrote to Ha’aretz in November 2000 criticizing Duriel’s investigation. Judge Shoshana Almagor ruled in favor of the defendant, further attacking the plaintiff’s report.

May 16, 2006

Front Page Magazine’s Jamie Glazov interviews Karsenty on subjects ranging from al-Dura to French anti-Semitism to France’s economic situation. Among other things, Karsenty says the following: “the Al Dura controversy is the biggest media scandal in the world.”

May 24, 2006

World Net Daily writer Cinnamon Shenker writes an article about Karsenty , and the upcoming trial against him.

June 17, 2006

Charles Enderlin participates in a panel discussion on the radio program “L’Hebdo du médiateur,” (The Weekly Moderator), in which he reasserts the authenticity of the original footage, citing the ruling against Duriel as proof. A transcript of the show in French appears at Debriefing.org.

September 10, 2006

In anticipation of the trial, Honest Reporting interviews Philippe Karsenty about the case, the al-Durah video, and the implications of the lawsuits.

September 14, 2006

The first trial in France 2’s defamation suit commences. Philippe Karsenty, founder and editor of Media Ratings , is the defendant. The Augean Stables Pajamas Media , and Le Figaro , a Paris daily, all cover the proceedings extensively.

September 16, 2006

French daily Le Figaro covers the al Durah trial.

September 17, 2006

The International Herald Tribune covers the first round of the France 2 trials.

October 17, 2006

Richard Landes publishes an article in The New Republic, called Camera Obscura: How French TV fudged the death of Mohammed Al Durah.

October 19, 2006

The French judicial system rules in favor of France 2 in its suit accusing Philippe Karsenty of defamation. An English version of the court’s decision is available at the Augean Stables .

French weekly L’Express runs an article on the court’s decision. The English translation, as well as a sound and thorough Fisking is available at the Augean Stables.

Israeli news network Arutz 7 also covers the trial.

Ellen Horowitz publishes Part I of her three-part series, ‘Between Art and News’ at Israel Insider and Israel Hasbara Committee.

October 20, 2006

Part 2 of ‘Between Art and News’, by Ellen Horowitz, appears at Israel Insider.

October 23, 2006

Caroline Glick, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post calls the al Durah affair a Prime-time Blood LIbel after a French court ruled Phillippe Karsenty guilty of defamation.

The Scotsman, a Scottish paper, runs an article on the outcome of the trial.

Part 3 of ‘Between Art and News’, by Ellen Horowitz, appears at Israel Insider.

November 3, 2006

The World Politics Review publishes an article by John Rosenthal on the results of the trial.

November 28, 2006

France 2 loses its lawsuit against Pierre Lurcat, also sued by the channel for defamation. Pajamas Media carries the story.

2007

June 13, 2007

Richard Landes releases his latest movie, Icon of Hatred. It is available at The Second Draft and YouTube: Part 1 and Part 2.

August 29, 2007

Front Page Magazine previews the upcoming Karsenty appeal, and painstakingly reviews the history of the case.

September 3, 2007

Richard Landes posts a petition demanding France 2 release the “Secret Muhammad al Durah Tapes.” The petition is available to sign here.

September 12, 2007

Philippe Karsenty’s appeal of the decision in France 2’s lawsuit against him for defamation in 2006 is heard before a French court.

September 16, 2007

Marty Peretz discusses al Durah at his blog, The Spine.

September 17, 2007

The IDF formally requests, from France 2, the complete rushes pertaining to the al Durah incident. The text of the request is availabe in French at the Augean Stables . The AP Ha’aretz Ma’ariv , and the Jerusalem Post cover the story.

September 19, 2007

The French appeals court judge orders the release of France2 video footage for review in court.

October 1, 2007

GPO Director Danny Seaman releases formal written acknowledgement that he considers the Al-Durah footage staged, but will not seek to revoke France2’s press credentials.

October 1, 2007

Jamal Al-Durah, Muhammed’s father, calls allegations that the footage was staged ridiculous in interview with Israel News.

October 2, 2007

James Fallows publishes a follow-up article entitled, “News on the al-Dura Front: Israeli Finding that it was Staged”, in which he declares that he is not ready to declare the affair a hoax, but he is intrigued by the efforts of Landes, et al.

October 3, 2007

The French court of Appeals issues an order to France2 to deliver the rushes to them by October 31 for viewing in court on November 14.

Arad Nir writes “All the Children are Like Yours” in Yediot Achronot, positing that it is a waste of time arguing over who killed Al-Durah. He was merely a symbol in a conflict that has claimed thousands of children.

October 4, 2007

Palestinian “Human Rights Group” calls for “impartial” investigation into the Al-Durah affair.

October 7, 2007

Gideon Levy writes “Mohammed al-Dura Lives On” in Haaretz, arguing that it does not matter if the IDF killed Al-Durah, since they have killed many Palestinian children.

November 12, 2007

BBC News publishes “Dispute Rages over al-Durrah Footage”, by Martin Patience, an uninformed piece that does not attest to serious coverage by the BBC.

November 14, 2007

Charles Enderlin presents an edited version of the rushes, only eighteen minutes (hence with about three minutes cut), in court.

November 18, 2007

Hamas security forces briefly detain Jamal al-Dura, and question him about allegedly shooting in the air during a wedding.

January 8, 2008

Israeli lawyers for France2 send letter of protest to organizers of conference at the IDC in Herzliya at which Richard Landes is speaking on “Icon of Hatred: The Muhammad al Dura Affair: From Media to Internet to Courtroom:

January 17, 2008

Charles Enderlin speaks at Harvard’s Center for European Studies about his new book, The Lost Years.

February 27, 2008

Trial hearing in France, with formal presentation of arguments. A hot, contentious, seven-hour long hearing pits an extremely prepared Philippe Karsenty and his lawyers against an nonchalant Charles Enderlin and his sarcastic lawyers until almost 10 PM. The judge allows Karsenty’s Powerpoint presentation to be shown in court.

Jean-Claude Schlinger, French ballistics expert who has been featured in French courts for two decades, presents his findings to the court that the IDF could not have killed Muhammad Al-Dura.

Charles Enderlin claims that if the Israelis had the slightest suspicion that Talal had cheated in his report on al Durah, they would have taken away his credentials.

April 23, 2008

France2 rushes up at Youtube.

May 21, 2008

The judge of the Karsenty appeals case dismisses all charges against Karsenty, overturning the lower court’s decision.

May 22, 2008

Enderlin declares on his blog that he will take the case to the highest French appeals court.

May 28, 2008

Writing in The Jerusalem Post, Larry Derfner calls Landes, Karsenty, et al, “conspiracy freaks”.

May 29, 2008

The Jerusalem Post runs an editorial on the lessons of the Al-Durah affair, entitled, “Myth & Muhammad al-Dura”.

June 4, 2008

Le Nouvel Obs publishes a petition of solidarity with Charles Enderlin, denouncing the attacks on the freedom and reputation of journalists in the case.

June 11, 2008

Richard Landes and Phillipe Karsenty publish their response to Larry Derfner’s charges in The Jerusalem Post.

June 12, 2008

The Jerusalem Post runs an article about the ongoing feud between Karsenty and the AJC.

June 13, 2008

Figaro columnist Ivan Rioufol denounces the Nouvel Obs petition supporting Charles Enderlin.

Israeli Ambassador to Franc Elie Barnavi comes out against Enderlin and France2 in the indepedent French publication Marianne.

June 18, 2008

Larry Derfner again makes his case against the “conspiracy freaks” Karsenty and Landes in his Jerusalem Post column.

June 20, 2008

Israeli newspaper Maariv runs feature in their weekend supplement on the al-Durah affair, “Just Don’t Touch their Symbol”.

June 21, 2008

The principle Palestinian Newspaper, Al-Quds, publishes a translation of an article on the Karsenty-Enderlin decision written by a reporter at The Media Line. This is the first time that Palestinian media have covered the unraveling of the Al Durah story.

June 27, 2008

Melanie Phillips’ article in Standpoint, ” Faking a Killing”, becomes the most-emailed and commented upon article in the issue.

June 28, 2008

Enderlin respond’s to Elie Barnavi’s article on his blog.

July 7, 2008

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet writes “L’Affaire Enderlin: Being a French Journalist Means Never having to Say You’re Sorry” in The Weekly Standard, after having spoken with two-thirds of the signers of the Nouvel Obs petition.

2009

March 4, 2009

The German public broadcaster ARD airs a 52-minute documentary, with reporting by Esther Schapira and Georg Hafner, indicating that the France 2 footage of al-Durah appeared to be staged. A short French summary of the film is available at DesInfos.com

July 14, 2009

Bernard Kouchner, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, awards the Legion of Honour to Charles Enderlin.

2010

May 2010

The prestigious PUF (Presses Universitaires de France) publishes “The New anti-Jewish Propaganda” by Pierre-André Taguieff, which devotes 100 pages to the al-Durah case.

June 10, 2010

Philippe Karsenty wins a defamation suit against Canal + for their broadcast “The Counterfeiters of Information.”  The text of the court decision, in French.

Meanwhile, Karsenty’s defamation lawsuit against L’Express is dismissed on the grounds that the journalist, Vincent Hugeux, had relied upon the reporting of Canal +.

September 2010

Robert Menard’s magazine “Medias” publishes a 5 page interview with Philippe Karsenty.

Robert Menard tells Jean Robin during a podcast interview on the website “Enquete et Debat” that he was pressured not to publish the article.

October 7, 2010

Charles Enderlin publishes a book about al-Durah entitled “A Child is Dead” (http://www.donquichotte-editions.com/documents/un-enfant-est-mort/) which defends his reporting.

October 21, 2010

The Israeli Prime Minister’s office issues an official statement declaring that “it was not right to impose on the IDF and the State of Israel responsibility for the Muhammad Al Dura episode.”  The statement cites the investigation of the German network ARD as well as the original IDF investigation.

November 11, 2010:

The Canadian television network CTS organizes the first adversarial debate (in English) on the Al-Dura.controversy.

2011

8 May 2011

Judea Pearl, the father of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, sends a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy requesting that he “denounce” what he refers to as the “anti-Semitic lie” of the al-Durah story.  In the video of Pearl’s assassination by jihadists which was broadcast on the internet, images of the France 2 footage of al-Durah were shown in the background.  Phillippe Karsenty hands the letter to the President.

2012

January 5, 2012

Canal + lose their appeal of their conviction for defamation of Phillippe Karsenty and are sentenced. The Appeal Court decision (in French).

14 February 2012

The French Supreme Court takes up the appeal of France 2 and Charles Enderlin of the Appeals Court dismissal of their defamation suit against Philippe Karsenty.  The Advocate General had filed an opinion recommending dismissal of the appeal.

15 February 2012

Dr. Yehuda David wins his appeal of defamation charges against him by Jamal al Dura, following the publication of the article published by Clément Weill-Raynal, Jewish News, entitled “The Wounds of Jamal al Dura already existed in 1993, without any Possible Ambiguity.”  A detailed article about the case, in French, by Véronique Chemla.

February 28, 2012

The French Supreme Court overturns the judgment of the Court of Appeals, rendered on May 21 2008, dismissing the defamation charges against Phillippe Karsenty.  The basis of the decision is that the Court of Appeals was wrong to have ordered France 2 to show the complete footage shot the day of the al-Durah incident, on the grounds that a court cannot help the accused prove his innocence.  Therefore, another hearing was ordered where the issues could be re-litigated, but without the screening of the France 2 footage. The Court of Cassation decision, in French.

2013

January 16, 2013

The new Karsenty defamation trial is currently set for January 16, 2013.

April 6, 2013

Date of Court Decision: Court announces a delay to May 22. No explanation given.

May 20, 2013

Kuperwasser Commission Report on Al Durah presented to Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu by Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz. Report receives extensive news coverage.

May 22, 2013

Court again delays decision, this time until June 26. No explanation given.

 

Lethal Narratives: Weapon of Mass Destruction in the War Against the West

Lethal Narratives: Weapon of Mass Destruction in the War Against the West

by Nidra Poller (June 2009)

Delivered to the New English Review Symposium May 30th, 2009.

On September 30, 2000, state-owned France 2 television channel broadcast a video showing the alleged killing of a 12 year-old Palestinian youth, Mohamed al Dura, and the wounding of his father, Jamal. The ordeal was supposedly filmed as it happened at Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip by a France 2 cameraman, later identified as a Palestinian–Talal Abu Rahma. France 2 Jerusalem Bureau chief Charles Enderlin announced, in a dramatic voice-over, that the man and boy were “targets of gunfire from the Israeli position.” Seconds later: “Another round of gunfire. The boy is dead, his father is critically wounded.” The inflammatory al Dura image triggered an outburst of murderous violence against Jews in Israel and set off the worst wave of anti-Jewish attacks in Europe since the Shoah.

Doubts raised about the authenticity of the news report were pushed aside. In fact, its impact was based on the force of the accusation of child murder, not on the credibility of the images or alleged circumstances. Analysts and investigators have exposed inconsistencies, anomalies, and outright lies but the French network has consistently refused to participate in an honest search for the truth. On the contrary, lawsuits were brought against webmasters of three sites that had taken a stand on the controversy or simply posted articles about it. The avowed intent of the suits was to silence critics once and for all but the case against media watchdog Philippe Karsenty backfired when he appealed his defamation conviction. In May 2008 the appeals court ruled in his favor.

But the al Dura hoax clings stubbornly to the public mind. My extensive experience with this thorny issue, which began with a letter to the editors published by the International Herald Tribune in October 2000,[1] led me to the broader question of “lethal narratives,” a term I coined to describe a formidable weapon that interferes with the rational thinking that is essential to Western civilization. In trying to understand why people could not reason about the al Dura news report I came to see how the same method of lethal narratives kept them from reasoning about the Arab-Israeli conflict, the war in Iraq…and global jihad.

Global jihad, like the Qur’an itself, is timeless and uncreated. Pressing forward or hanging back according to circumstances, it remains focused on the ultimate objective of bringing the entire world into a state of submission to Allah. The Khomeinist revolution that led to the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran marks the contemporary revival of jihad conquest. Khomeini lived like a head of state in exile at Neauphle-le-Château France for a year before his triumphant return to Iran in 1979. Three decades later Iran is developing nuclear weapons to fulfill its vow to destroy Israel and exterminate the Jews. The al Dura hoax, presented by France 2 as a legitimate news broadcast, prepared the way for worldwide acceptance of genocidal Jew hatred.

The fleeting video—less than one-minute–of the al Dura incident does not meet the minimum requirements for a news report. The visual contradicts the audio, the backup story is full of contradictions, the eyewitnesses are found to be liars, and Charles Enderlin, the France 2 journalist who lent credibility to the report filed by his Palestinian cameraman, has never provided a shred of corroborating evidence. On the contrary, voluminous evidence shows that the France 2 / Palestinian production was a crudely staged fake.

And yet the poster-style image of Mohamed al Dura crouching behind his father is indelibly engraved in the public mind. Among the innumerable uses of the al Dura image by jihadis, we will cite an Osama bin Laden recruiting video and the filmed beheading of WSJ journalist Daniel Pearl in which the al Dura scene is interspliced as justification. Weren’t we told that Guantanamo is a major recruiting tool? So, if bin Laden latched on to the al Dura incident to recruit for 9/11, he must have known Guantanamo was in the cards. This a posteori reasoning sounds ridiculous but, as I will explain, lethal narratives obliterate notions of chronology, cause and effect…the very logic that is essential to Western rationality. Charles Enderlin justified the hasty airing of the al Dura video by the fact that so many children were killed in the conflict. But the staged al Dura shooting preceded–and actually kicked off—the military onslaught launched by PA leader Yasser Arafat two months after the failed Camp David talks where he turned down the offer of that state without which, we are told, Palestinians cannot become peaceful. Shahid operations– misnamed suicide attacks—killed over a thousand Israeli civilians, maimed 5,000, and brought grief to tens of thousands of families.

Why was it so easy, 60 years after the Shoah, to commit atrocities against Jews and get away with it? The staged death of Mohamed al Dura, a twenty-first century international blood libel, justifies the real cold-blooded murder and planned annihilation of Jews. But, we are told, ten times more Palestinians than Israelis were killed. And we are asked to believe that tens of thousands of Muslims killed in Iraq are victims of America’s war, fomented by the despised George W. Bush. These lopsided body counts serve to justify Muslim attacks on our civilians.

The victims are not “collateral damage,” they are weapons used by cowards who do not fight soldier to soldier, who hide in bunkers and deliberately provoke civilian casualties to delegitimize our cause. Yes, the bloody bodies–preferably of children– ostentatiously displayed are weapons in the hands of cowards.
BEYOND PROPAGANDA

We hear that the Palestinians are good at PR and propaganda. That Israel is losing the war of words and images. We are told we must use our smarts, improve hasbara (information), counter dis- and misinformation. And meanwhile, global jihad advances inexorably, widens its scope, conquers territory. And we cannot even convince people in the free world that we are—whether we like it or not–at war. The very opposite is happening. The United States of America, a great military power with a tradition of defending freedom and fighting to victory, is now governed by a president who lulled them with a “pretend we’re not at war” campaign. This unmitigated disaster is tragically underestimated in most quarters, even as the consequences befall us. With a purveyor of lethal narratives at the helm, the ship of state is sailing full speed into the arms of global jihad.

We are told that our magnificent armed forces cannot win an asymmetrical war against “insurgents, militants, guerilla fighters, national liberation warriors…” This is ridiculous. Poorly-armed ill-trained jihadis who brutalize the civilians that fall under their sway and are incapable of fighting soldier to soldier can win only if we tie our own hands behind our back. If we fight to win, they will lose. Meanwhile they soften us up with lethal narratives…while advancing their nuclear weapons programs.

Our enemy is united in the umma, submissive to sharia law, waging jihad by every means possible on every level of our societies and we react piecemeal to each incident, separate every theater of war, imagining every Iranian proxy as a distinct entity with specific grievances that should be addressed compassionately.
The Palestinians strike Israel, get battered, and run crying to international opinion. It always works. In July 2000, world media placed the blame squarely on Yasser Arafat for refusing the 2-state solution offered by then Prime Minister Ehud Barak with the blessings of President Clinton. Within a week, the lethal narrative kicked in. “Palestinian children are being killed…in cold blood, like Mohamed al Dura.” Ten times more Palestinian casualties than Israeli casualties… the new definition of unjust war. That cockeyed narrative explained away the most atrocious, extensive, inexcusable violence against Israeli civilians. When the Israeli army finally moved forcefully to put an end to that killing spree, we were served the Jenin massacre hoax. In June 2006 the Gaza Beach massacre hoax was staged to justify the subsequent cross-border attack in which several Israeli soldiers were killed and Gilad Shalit was abducted. Three years later Shalit is still held hostage under inhumane conditions. Where are the champions of the Geneva Convention? The Israeli soldier was not captured in action, he was kidnapped within undisputed Israeli territory. Where are the two-state solutioners? On July 12th, Hizbullah attacked from Lebanon. Rockets were fired into Israel all along the border. Several Israeli soldiers were murdered, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were abducted and later killed or left to die. Two days after the unprovoked Hizbullah attack, then French President Jacques Chirac declared a humanitarian crisis in Lebanon and demanded an immediate ceasefire.

Despite conclusive evidence of staged news–the famous “fauxtography”– the narrative of Israel’s disproportionate response and wanton killing of Lebanese civilians prevailed. The dubious Qan’a massacre—provoked or fabricated—brought international opinion to a paroxysm of empathy with the Lebanese, Hizbullah included. French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy danced Condoleeza Rice into UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that handed Hizbullah virtual control of Lebanon.

Accusations of deliberate killing of civilians arise wherever we act to defend ourselves. Recent reports that 140 Afghan villagers were killed in a raid by US forces were followed by a series of unconfirmed unverifiable details and the inevitable photos of hastily covered bodies. Investigators risked their lives to go into enemy-held territory rife with snipers in an effort to find out if the dead were 100% civilians, Taliban-sympathizers or, perhaps, unfortunate victims led into the area by the Taliban precisely to be targets of the provoked air strike. How can we prove that US military personnel are not ruthless murderers who deliberately aim at helpless villagers for the pleasure of killing women and children? Meanwhile the Taliban enforce sharia with savage methods and no one investigates.

Jihad fighters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Gaza are transformed into hapless civilians when they die in battles that they provoked. When they are captured, as in the case of the Guantanamo prisoners, the lethal narrative strategy turns them into prisoners of war protected by the Geneva Convention, quasi-citizens deserving of due process, or oppressed minorities deprived of their civil rights. This is self-defeating: our moral integrity cannot be judged by the way we handle ruthless fighters who do not respect the laws of war.

They have their own laws. Fighters dress as civilians, attack civilians in their own and in the enemy camp, live among civilians, keep their women and children with them in the heat of battle, deliberately attack from residential areas to provoke counterattacks that will kill civilians, display bloodied mutilated corpses—civilian or military, who can tell—as weapons in the lethal narrative strategy. This month, Taliban in Pakistan shaved their beards, dressed in neutral clothes, and slipped in among the refugees fleeing their brutal rule and trying to escape the crossfire of hypothetical battles with regular Pakistani forces allegedly rooting them out.

Instead of comprehending the overall situation we are dealing case by case with endless examples and persistently attributing our own criteria to an enemy that is playing by utterly different rules. This not only jeopardizes our self-defense on the ground, it subverts the very rationality that defines our civilization and preserves our precious freedom. Logic is not an affectation for intellectuals. It is our light, our backbone, our invincible weapon.

FROM THE AL DURA BLOOD LIBEL TO THE SURRENDER OF AMERICAN POWER

The staged al Dura death scene has been analyzed, investigated, and exposed by, among others, Israeli physicist Nahum Shahaf, Israeli journalists Amnon Lord and Stephane Juffa, French author and psychoanalyst Gérard Huber, World Net Daily journalist Daniel Kupelian, German TV producer Esther Schapira, Boston University professor Richard Landes, and French media watchdog Philippe Karsenty. Shortly after the al Dura report was aired Tony and Alex Faigenbaum and Pierre Rehov tried to sue France 2 for false accusations but the French court refused to hear the case. Since winning his appeal in May 2008 Philippe Karsenty has been showing his convincing presentation of the al Dura hoax to influential people, small groups, and large audiences all over the world. I myself have written extensively about the al Dura affair in Commentary Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Jerusalem Post, Makor Rishon, National Post, and PJ Media.

My experience with irrational reactions to elucidation of the al Dura hoax led me to formulate the concept of lethal narratives. The al Dura “death scene” video has been dissected millimeter by millimeter. There is so much documentation that hardly anyone can absorb and assimilate it all. When an informed analyst presents an exposé of the al Dura myth—in person or in the media– objections are inevitably raised by people who know close to nothing about the affair. Their memories of the original news broadcast are faulty and they have never even heard of the background stories that were put out at the time and then withdrawn piece by piece as their blatant falsehood was exposed. People feel free to defend the al Dura myth by repeating baseless assertions and flimsy arguments thoroughly demolished by meticulous investigators.

Invited to present the affair to a Paris bar association workshop, I thought that lawyers would be interested to know that the testimony of the sole witnesses to the alleged shooting—the Palestinian cameraman and the surviving victim, Jamal al Dura—is demonstrably unreliable. Isn’t that how lawyers try to get at the truth? The witnesses and the journalist who produced the news broadcast endlessly repeat an obviously concocted story that doesn’t hold water. Nothing they say is corroborated by the video evidence. Every detail of their account clashes with other elements of their story. As I spoke to the lawyers, the iconic al Dura image appeared on a screen–Jamal al Dura and the boy crouched behind a concrete culvert, their features twisted in a melodramatic grimace. I said, “There is nothing shocking about this image…” Before I could go on to explain how the voice-off commentary transformed a patently staged and static image into a heart-rending story, a gentleman called out from the audience. “Yes it is shocking! The death of a child is always shocking!”

Well, you’d rather have this lawyer defending your opponent than yourself in court. But then again, in a French court he might win.

Debunkers of the al Dura myth are attacked with ignorant, snide objections and aggressive ad hominem arguments. The sheer weight of the evidence is thrown in his face as proof of dubious credibility, and the fact that this affair has dragged out for nine years—because of the refusal of France 2 to cooperate—is held as proof that the debunkers are cantankerous fools who don’t know when to stop. Current France 2 news director Arlette Chabot, who found the al Dura affair on her desk when she took over in 2004 and has had the decency to partially re-examine the evidence, complained: “These people’ ask questions, we reply, and they ask more questions.”

That used to be called investigation!

Why not just drop the issue…after all this time? Isn’t it over and done with, too late to correct even if the news report was falsified? Far from over and done with, the al Dura hoax is still active and virulent. The falsified cold-blooded murder of the Palestinian youth is still injecting its poison into the bloodstream of potential shahids eager to use their bodies as weapons to kill Jews. The al Dura blood libel provoked and justified the murder of Israeli civilians and attacks on Jews worldwide. This massive contemporary injection vivifies and intensifies the eternal systemic Islamic Jew hatred. Genocidal Palestinian violence is not inspired by suffering and despair. It is not a reaction to Israeli “violation of international law.” It is not a forceful way of requesting a two-state solution. It is sheer unmitigated boundless hatred.

Vibrantly alive in the Arab-Muslim world, half-forgotten elsewhere, the al Dura blood libel is a factor in the passive tolerance of Ahmadinejad’s genocidal determination backed up by Iran’s looming nuclear capacity. Global jihad meets feeble resistance in societies softened by lethal narratives. The forces of evil get traction by attacking Israel and the Jews. As the target widens to include the full range of “infidels” the faulty reasoning that justified atrocities against Jews remains in place…as planned. And the second-level victims – society at large – find themselves defenseless, because the Jews were in fact their shield and not the cause of Muslim anger.

In the current controversy over alleged torture of US prisoners, the Bush administration has been compared to the Inquisition. The comparison is misplaced. We the people of the free world are in fact subject to a jihadist variation on the Inquisition. We are attacked militarily and then accused of misdeeds, crimes, and sins. Hostages from our camp are tortured, burned alive or beheaded, their humiliation and pain are exhibited in unbearable videos…and we are accused of illegal uncivilized behavior. Ill-conceived apologies from our side are pocketed with no benefits for the apologetics; and we are pressured for new, deeper, wider, more radical apologies. The screws are tightened. Our crimes fall into a bottomless pit. We are in a dither, running to answer for each accusation, getting further and further from the simple truth that would save us:

We are at war. Our enemy wishes to destroy us. We must fight back.

This is not an over-simplification. It is not a frivolous personal opinion. It is the conclusion that is reached when one gathers all relevant evidence and organizes it logically. Rational thinking leads to this conclusion. We cannot defend our freedom if we do not maintain our capacity to think rationally. Our overwhelming military advantage is undermined when we succumb to stories of our own sinfulness. As we see in the current debate, self-defense is no longer accepted as justification for the harsh interrogation methods that the situation imposes. And when we treat our jihadi prisoners with kid gloves and tender loving care, the hypocritical moralizers immediately find something else to condemn. Self-defense is not even a category. It doesn’t enter into the equation because this controversy is not taking place on the plane of reality but in a mythological domain created by lethal narratives in which there is no distinction between war and peace, friends and enemies, options and necessities…

Let us look once more at the al Dura myth and see how it operates. It begins with an emotional sting—the death of the Palestinian youth “targeted by gunfire from the Israeli position” (dixit Charles Enderlin). The video of this scene, which lasts less than one minute, is so patently false that it cannot stand up to the barest objective examination. Remove the voice-off, take away the emotional sting, lift the incident out of the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the broadcast would be the laughing stock of 21st century television. The scene is so obviously fabricated that many who defend the al Dura story admit as much and then go on to justify it as a faithful illustration of the “situation.” The situation being the death of Palestinian children caught in the conflict? No! The situation illustrated by the al Dura video is the cold-blooded murder of Palestinian children by heartless Israelis.

Compare this to waterboarding. The emotional sting=Americans are meting out torture. Torture is wrong. This wrong must not only be discontinued and punished, it must be rubbed like salt into the wound of our evil hearts and souls. That accusation is not substantiated by rational argument but by repetition. Instead of a rational debate on the ethical dilemmas raised in the context of a new kind of warfare waged by jihadis who explicitly reject our laws, including the laws of war, we are battered with this damning accusation. And we are told, from the highest of places, that our inexcusable mistreatment of prisoners jeopardizes the safety of our own military personnel that will be—what can you expect?– mistreated in turn. How can such an outlandish statement be made in public? There is not a shred of evidence to substantiate it, there are tons of evidence that contradict it, but in the mythical world of lethal narratives, as we saw with the al Dura hoax, we do not look at the evidence. We do not verify statements. We do not make ethical clarifications. We dash from one emotional precipice to another. Look at how violently they attack us! Isn’t that proof of the wrong we have done?

Chronology is reversed, cause and effect are disconnected, details are tossed around like confetti instead of being rationally articulated. The broad picture is never outlined, we never get down to the essentials, there is no sense of priorities. The preposterous becomes accepted wisdom. Those who contradict it are slandered and marginalized. Take Jack Silverman’s snide, arrogant, ignorant, and baseless article in the Nashville Scene about this symposium. Set aside the fact that the people speaking here have investigated, analyzed, and studied more than Silverman could ever comprehend if he did knuckle down and make a serious effort. He doesn’t have to get serious. All he would have to do is wrest himself out of the grip of the lethal narratives he parrots. He doesn’t agree with us about Islam? Fine. But why can’t he debate the issues like an adult? Because the notion of blasphemy has crept into our society by every door and window. Normal critical faculties are stymied by sharia precepts that have been surreptitiously knitted into the fabric of our societies by a combination of seduction and intimidation.

Preposterous accusations are pumped into the information stream and purified as they move from the jihad source to the relays—academics, opinion-makers, politicians, community organizers—who deliver them in the trappings of normalcy. The raucous blood-curdling shouts of pro-Hamas foot soldiers storming through European cities – during the Cast Lead operation in January – were hidden from view of the general public by media that deliberately refrained from reporting on them. Later, the “Death to the Jews, Death to Israel” theme reappears in deceivingly civilized newspaper articles about the moderate Mahmoud Abbas who has, we are told, courageously, against great odds, prepared his society for peaceful coexistence. But, the story goes, as long as Israel pursues the expansion of settlements that eat away at territory that should be “returned” to the Palestinians, chances are slim of finding a peaceful solution to a conflict that has endured for sixty years.

The notion of a Mideast conflict caused by Israeli usurpation of Palestinian lands is a lethal narrative concocted to disguise Islamic determination to eliminate the Jewish State and kill the Jews. Our enemies state their real aims and purposes in no uncertain terms. And there is no valid evidence of the imaginary desire for a state that supposedly explains away every evil committed by Arab-Muslim forces for the past sixty years. The “illegal war in Iraq” that has caused such deep misunderstanding between the U.S., our European allies, and the Arab-Muslim world is another lethal narrative that serves to deprive the free world of its military might and leave us vulnerable to conquest.

Time is running out! We are falling behind. We have lost so much ground that if this were a conventional war with soldiers on battlefields it would be obvious that our backs are to the wall. We will either wake up and fight our way out, miraculously, or resign ourselves to defeat.

Time is running out. The once proud once free United States of America is baring its breast to a ruthless enemy and whispering “take me!”

But…

Democracies are not suicidal. Healthy forces of self-defense will mobilize and prevail. Thinking straight is a prelude to victory.

[1] Who Will Protect Palestine’s Children? by Jumana Odeh, dateline Ramallah, West Bank International Herald Tribune 27 October 2000 [1]
Under cover of a heartfelt plea for protection for Palestinian children, Dr. Jumana Odeh adds one more stone to the concerted campaign to convince the world that Israelis are child killers. Indeed, who will protect Palestine’s children if their own people send them into battle and, as if that weren’t enough, kill them a second time by using their deaths as an incitement to murderous hatred!

Mohammed Durra was not killed “in cold blood,” he was caught in a cross-fire. And Sarrah “not yet two years old” was not “killed by an Israeli settler,” she was shot accidentally in a tragic domestic accident. By her own people.

No, Israelis are not child-killers. Jews do not rejoice in the death of children, even when those children are throwing stones at them, even when those stone-throwing children are fronting for heavily armed men.

It will be a long long time before any plea arising from Ramallah can speak “to all those who still believe in humanity.” When the propaganda smoke screen has dissipated the truth will stand, indelible: a heinous crime was committed against two Israeli men in Ramallah and the savagery unleashed there will turn against its perpetrators a hundredfold.

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“So What if Al Durah was Staged?”: Meditations on the Colonization of the Israeli Mind

Originally posted at The Augean Stables, January 18, 2008

I recently gave a talk at a conference on Media and Ethics in Jerusalem, where I presented the case against Enderlin’s version of the Muhammad al Durah story. Apparently, the presentation was relatively convincing since one of the first criticisms I immediately received from a prominent Israeli professor of communications was: “So what? According to reliable statistics, the Israeli army has killed over 800 Palestinian children since the second Intifada. So what difference does it make if this case is staged or not?” His intervention was followed by a round of applause from about a third of the 200-some person audience.

The remark should not have surpised me. Gideon Levy and Tom Segev have already offered the same response. It did, however, seem unusual coming from a professor of Political Science and Communications, who specializes in media (including focus on their role in peace processes), who would, therefore, presumably know this “one” case was hardly “interchangeable” with the hundreds of others.

These remarks seemed even more misplaced given the conference’s keynote address delivered just before our panel by Daniel Dayan, the French sociologist of the media. In that talk Dayan discussed the ways in which the media frame the problem of terrorism, and among the issues he raised, one seemed particularly relevant to the issue of al Durah. The terrorist, in this frame, is a “victim fighting back” while the “hegemonic forces” against which he struggles – occupation, invasion, colonialism – are the true terrorists. This kind of media narrative erases both the identity of the terrorist (he is a freedom fighter who “has no choice”) and the victims of the terrorist (they deserve what they get).

This framing works particularly well, Dayan noted, in terms of a “Politics of pity.” Pity, he pointed out, is not a good mathematician. It can only count to one. But from that one it then manages an algebraic transformation where that one stands for all the victims of the (newly defined) terror emanating from the oppressor. As Osama bin Laden put it so eloquently: “In killing this boy, the Israelis killed every child in the world.” Thus the “freedom fighter,” or, as Michael Moore refers to the Jihadis in Iraq who blow up their fellow Muslims with alarming regularity, the “Minute-Men,” use the “weapons of the weak” to assault the atrocious foe. Or, to quote ISM activists: “Resistance is not terror,” and since all Israeli children will eventually become soldiers of the occupation, Israel has no civilians.

These conceptual remarks shed a fierce light on the significance of al Durah since this icon was a spectacular and unprecedented event in the history of TV: not only the first “live TV-recorded” death of a child in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but perhaps any conflict, and it was presented to the world as a murder. It thus carried an emotional impact equivalent to a nuclear blast, and became a symbolic matrix that defined the second Intifada and redefined Zionism. The “martyr” Muhammad al Durah became not only the “icon” for the Arab and Muslim world, he became the touchstone of Western perception about the nature of the conflict and the nature of Israel.

This defenseless 12-year old murdered by Israelis became the symbol of all Palestinian “children” killed in the Intifada, whether they were 18 years old and fighting Israel, or 10 years old carrying a bomb pack, whether, even when killed by Israelis, it was unintentional or not. Muhammad “explained” the terror against Israelis – “What do you expect when you kill their children in cold blood?” – and rendered every Israeli victim guilty. So symbolically speaking, this “one case” not only stands out from all others, but redefines the meaning of the others.

The media – purveyors of this pivotal tale – subsequently remained loyal to the framework they had helped shape, reporting virtually every and any Palestinian claim of Israeli brutality, piling up statistics of Palestinian civilians, children, and non-combatants casualties that made Israeli soldiers look like ruthless mass-murderers, despite the fact that there are no documented cases of the IDF deliberately murdering innocent children. When the real mass-murderers of children, the suicide bombers and struck Israeli domestic sites, the media found few problems empathizing both with the victim and the terrorist. Moral equivalence and the politics of pity had obliterated the difference between firemen and arsonists; indeed for many it had inverted the moral universe: the arsonists were rebel heroes and the firemen hegemonic oppressors.

But his symbolic potency went well beyond even the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Muslims around the world the al Durah story became a wake-up call: his image became perhaps this single most recognizable global Muslim icon until (and even after) 9-11. Within months, Osama bin Laden had given his tale a central place in his recruiting video for global Jihad. Mali in sub-Saharan Africa has a huge stone monument with a reproduction of the father and son behind the barrel in their capital’s main square. For Muslims he signaled the final revelation – the Apocalypse – of Israel’s true nature: malevolent, merciless, murderous, and he awakened an atavistic and toxic mix of genocidal anti-Semitism, paranoid conspiracy theory, and apocalyptic violence.

Nor did this icon of hatred lose much momentum as it entered the Western sphere. While some resisted instinctively the accusation that Israeli soldiers had killed an innocent boy in cold blood, the vast majority accepted Talal’s narrative, as affirmed by France2: the Israelis targeted and killed the boy. As a tale of “murder pure and simple” as one scholar in Budapest recently told me, the story resonated in Europe and the West with a completely different, but equally potent issue: the Holocaust. Al Durah, the blood libel, the icon of hatred, the symbol of the murder of children which “the Israelis do every day,” as my European interlocutor continued, freed Europe from Holocaust guilt. As one prominent French news analyst noted: the death of Muhammed “erased, replaced” the icon of the Holocaust, the boy from the Warsaw ghetto. Indeed, the comparison of Israel with the Nazis, long a marginal trope of the demented extreme-left moved rapidly to the center of public discourse under the aegis of this icon.

So my answer to that Prof. of Communications and his applauding audience is: I make a stink about this particular case because this is not “just one of many.” On the contrary, it is the framing narrative – indeed, to use Daniel Dayan’s term, a “sacred narrative.” It serves as the procrustean bed in which all subsequent data is crammed no matter how mutilated it becomes in the process. Your 800 dead minors – presumably an “objective” “fact”, but also a source of great moral indignation –is both a construct of that sacred narrative and it obtains its ability to solicit moral outrage within that framework. “We’ve killed 800 of their children!” as if they were all innocent, defenseless 12 year olds whom the IDF wantonly killed. And the applause that greeted your remark with all the force of a flagellant’s whip, comes from their approval of your defending that sacred narrative against my blasphemous assault.

So either you want to become a statistician – in which case examine how “cooked” your data – or you remain in your field of communications, which means you pay attention to semiotics. Do not confuse the semiotics of numbers (which give a false impression of “objective accuracy”) with the semiotics of blood libel (which give your “statistics” their moral reproach). Why would you dismiss in one swoop both the base and genuinely malevolent culture of genocidal hatred which produced and exploited this icon on the one hand, and the inexcusably shabby, advocacy-ridden, intimidated Western media’s role in its dissemination? Just so, as an Israeli ashamed of your army’s excesses, you can beat your breast in public? Are you aware that you do service to no one but the hate-mongers? Does it matter to you that, as a result of the al Durah Affair and its progeny – Jenin, Gaza Beach, Kfar Qana – the poisons of hatred that rouse primitive violence and paralyze civic resistance spread daily? Or is it more important to self-criticize?

There was something in the applause this professor’s remark elicited that struck me. To paraphrase Anthony Julius’ acerbic comment on the anti-Zionist Jews in the diaspora: “Proud to be ashamed to be an Israeli.” Indeed, if there were any one deed which made many Jews – Israeli and Diaspora – ashamed to be Jewish, it was Muhammad al Durah. And here we come to the core of the issue, the complementary roles of Israeli self-criticism and Palestinian demonization in radically distorting the moral issues involved.

Perhaps the single greatest asymmetry in the Arab-Israeli conflict – beyond the power differentials, beyond the contrast between suicide terrorism that targets civilians and IDF procedures that go out of their way to avoid civilian casualties – is the difference between Palestinian demonization of Israel on the one hand, and the Israeli tendency towards self-criticism on the other. And here we see the role of the media – so populated by (largely self-critical) Jews – in obscuring this crucial dimension of the problem.

Imagine a Palestinian saying, “we’ve deliberately targeted so many Israeli children – and here it’s true, not a staged libel – that we are not in a position to complain when, in trying to kill our terrorists, the Israelis kill some of our civilians as collateral damage. Hard to do? Of course. What’s amazing in all this, is the inability of so many Israelis to say something like that in their own defense. No culture on the planet is as critical as the Israelis, and in their readiness to admit to things they have not done – like murder Palestinian children in cold blood – they completely disorient an outside world which, based on their own experience, assumes that nations at war don’t admit to things they haven’t done. “If they admit to this, how much worse must the situation be in reality?”

The result, amplified by an Augean media riddled with inveterate malpractice, is an inversion of reality. By any impartial standards, the army with the highest ethical standards and practice in the world has become a symbol of brutality, and the resistance with the ugliest record in the world, a symbol of brave resistance. And a good deal of the blame goes to Israelis for whom it is not enough to have a standard at least three times higher than the US or the British in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to sacrifice far more of their men in avoiding civilian casualties on the other side than any army in the world.

No, for them, the sins of their own army are so painful to behold, that they willingly and publicly participate in the defamation of their army before the world in the hopes that enough criticism might get them to behave better. It does not seem to occur to them that in so doing they spur the vicious forces that confront them daily with impossible violence. Having ingested the sacred narrative of which Al Durah is the patron saint, any further violence must be their own fault.

Meditating on this response, I realize how much the Palestinian framing of the conflict has colonized even the Zionist imagination, inscribing therein the images of their own imperialism and the innocent victimhood of their foes. No wonder Israelis – and any Jews who care about Israel – experience such intense cognitive dissonance since 2000! On the one hand we feel guilty, on the other when we dare to look, we see a monstrous enemy to whom apology and concession only invites further violence.

One of key conceptual failures in the case of al Durah is the way it has become politicized. The line-up is clear:

Left wing “progressives” sympathize with the Palestinian underdog, are quick to criticize Israeli militarism, and therefore seized upon this image exonerate the Palestinian leadership for the failure of Camp David earlier that year. Al Durah – the victim of Israeli malevolence – offers the perfect icon for the “left-wing” framing of the conflict: The Israeli Goliath and the Palestinian David. The tale offers the perfect club with which to beat the Israelis for their intransigence. In order for peace negotiations to succeed, the Israelis must make more concessions; only then will the Palestinians accept and be willing to renounce their vendettas. It strengthens the hand of people like David Landau, whose “wet dream” is that the USA “rape” Israel by forcing them to make the necessary concessions for peace.

On the right, people with a dim view of the Palestinians do not hesitate to use the al Durah fake as a way to demonize them, even claim that they killed the boy intentionally for the sake of a PR coup. Al Durah – the fake, or even worse, the sacrificial victim – offers the perfect example of the “right-wing” framing of the conflict: The Israeli David fighting off the Arab-Muslim Goliath who readily sacrifices his own children on the altar of his relentless hatreds. It offers the perfect illustration of why concessions will not work. No matter what Israel concedes, when it’s time for the Palestinians to live up to obligations, they’ll start another vicious war, with a major assist from the easily manipulated western MSM.

Neither reality-testing nor concluding about the dynamics of the conflict should flow from these pre-determined political positions. We need to start with empirical reality – as best as we can assess it – and think about how to achieve our political goals from that basis, not fantasize solutions and look for evidence that will enable us to push for them no matter how divorced from actual forces at play.

So if al Durah was staged – and the evidence is deeply troubling for France2 – then it represents one of the most damaging errors of judgment in the history of the news media, unleashing an icon of hatred with few parallels in the history of demonization. The big losers in this process were the forces of moderation on all sides: many Palestinians eagerly threw themselves into as total a war with Israel as they could muster; moderates could not brake their momentum; they could not even talk with their Israeli partners in dialogue without appearing to betray their people.

In one sense, one could argue that in this particular case, the “right” is right. Al Durah is not a symbol of Israeli brutality and Palestinian victimhood, but of duplicitous Palestinian war-mongering and Israeli victimhood. If any side of the Israeli political spectrum has behaved badly in this, it’s the left, who preferred a narrative they deemed “useful” over a truth they found problematic. “A hundred percent the Israelis killed him” said left-wing journalist B. Michael to me in 2003, who then proceeded to heap contempt on Shahaf and his conspiracy theories. So eager were they to get this club with which to hit the right wing, they enabled this terrible blood libel. What’s an outsider to think if even informed Israelis so definitively admit guilt?

Does this mean that the “right” is also right about the impossibility of negotiating with the Palestinians? Ironically, by failing to resist this vicious blood libel, specifically designed to create irreparable hatreds and hostilities, the left actually contributed to creating the conditions in which negotiations could not work. No Palestinian moderate could urge calm and negotiations after al Durah’s image hit the screens. The media’s and the “left’s” imagined “pro-peace and negotiations” behavior in the al Durah affair – adopting and protecting this icon of Palestinian suffering – offers one of the best illustrations of how the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

And the news media played an analogous role. In asymmetrical warfare, the media of the strong side can – wittingly or unwittingly become a weapon of the belligerent weak. When Bob Simon did his piece for 60 minutes on al Durah, he began by commenting that “In the Middle East, a picture can be worth a thousand weapons.” How many reporters think along the lines of “Israel has all the weapons, so why not ‘level the playing field’ by giving the PR victory to the Palestinians”? European reporters formalize the point: when presented the evidence for Pallywood – deliberately staging events like al Durah – they accept it as “a weapon of the weak.” And yet, how many journalists who think this way go on to consider how, in leveling the playing field, they contribute to war? When a reporter asked one of Arafat’s aide’s why he didn’t try and rein in the violence of the second Intifada, the man responded, “Why should he? The whole world is on his side.”

Our judgment of Enderlin’s performance, therefore, deserves to come not from the demands of a political agenda – or those of professional courtesy or friendship – but from the validity of the evidence. This is what “reality testing” is about – with all it demands for impartial, even self-critical, judgment. The very bases of our ability to assess the world around us, and the key to a free media’s ability to help us in that process, depend on accuracy and self-correction. Such matters cannot be held hostage to ideology.

Elias Bickerman, one of the great ancient historians of the 20th century, remarked: Communities “cannot survive the present without knowledge of the past… Thus, a historian can serve his group either by falsifying the past, or by telling the truth about it. Dishonest history can ruin the group, and ruins the historian himself.” To paraphrase: civil societies “cannot survive the present without knowledge of the world around them… Thus, a journalist can serve his readers either by delivering false information, or by telling the truth. Dishonest journalism can ruin the society, and ruins the journalist himself.” Put differently, the media’s job is not to tell us what to think by manipulating “news” to accord with their political agenda, but inform the members of the public so it can make their own judgments.

In the history of information warfare, al Durah – the blood libel – was a nuclear blast, strengthening the war-mongering demonizers and paralyzing those working for a consensual peace. And if, as it looks, the MSM, starting with Enderlin, played a key role in detonating the blast rather than playing their proper role of filtering out false news and war-mongering propaganda, then we may have an important insight into the systemic weaknesses of societies committed to freedom in this era of growing authoritarianism and violence. One of the news media’s main tasks is to keep poisons out of the information system like a dialysis machine; with al Durah it pumped – and continues to pump – toxic poisons.

If we want to know why this story is still alive, it is not only because it continues to shape opinions around the world, but because it is emblematic of repeated errors that the media has made and continues to make in its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is, like the Dreyfus affair, a test of the maturity of our culture: like the French church and army, our media is faced with the need to admit error, or at least to let the public judge. Do they have the maturity, the commitment to “the truth and nothing but the truth” to allow that to happen? Or will they, like this well-informed professor, seek at all costs, to hold on to his sacred narrative and trivialize the media’s problem.

As for the Israeli government, which is only now beginning to respond to the Al Durah affair, Ehad Ha-am once had some good advice: during a time of ferocious blood libels at the turn of the 20th century, “it is very dangerous for individuals, or nations, to confess to sins which they have not committed.”