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Scenario 2: Israelis by Accident

* Those who adhere to this scenario: Many people in the West and in Israel.

For those unwilling to accuse the Israelis of outright murder, this narrative presents a more benign version, that accepts the main lines of the story as presented by France2, but sees the death as the tragic result of the al Durahs getting caught in a crossfire. The original France 2 footage aired across the world, gives the impression of a crossfire, with the father waving at the Israelis to stop. In the crossfire, Israel becomes the prime culprit: As Robert Fisk of the Independent put it: “When I read the word “crossfire”, I reach for my pen. In the Middle East, it almost always means that the Israelis have killed an innocent person.”

Although he gives the Israelis a very thin benefit of the doubt (“True, the Israeli soldiers who killed the boy may not have known whom they hit”), Fisk is typical of a public that used the clip shown around the world to presume that since the Israelis, on one side, were in a shootout with the Palestinians, on the other, Mohammed and his father would naturally be caught in the crossfire and struck by stray Israeli bullets. This public includes many Israelis. For the editorial board at Ha’aretz, this event typified the conflict. Before investigating the matter, even the army spokesman initially admitted that the Israeli soldiers might have shot him accidentally.

A Boston Globe article on October 13, 2000 which compared reactions to the al Durah incident with the lynchings of Israeli reservists in Ramallah a few days later, shows how many Israelis thought of the al Durah affair in the weeks after the footage aired: ‘”OK, we accidentally killed the boy in Gaza and that was a terrible thing. But nobody took pleasure in the killing. Nobody turned it into a celebration. They’re dancing on Jewish blood,” said an Israeli woman at the Jerusalem eatery, who gave only her first name, Sarit.’

Ironically, this is the scenario with the least evidence in favor of it, and perhaps the most widely held, certainly in the USA and Israel, where the media generally ‘passed’ on the opportunity to investigate the matter further.

Scenario 3: Palestinians by Accident

* Those who adhere to this scenario: This seems to be the favorite position of many who have examined the evidence enough to register how unlikely scenarios 1 and 2 are (e.g., James Fallows) and of most who have read or seen their analyses. It appeals especially to those who do not want to raise deeply troubling and politically incorrect scenarios (Scenario 4) or be accused of conspiracy theories (scenario 5). It includes some mainstream journalists who have investigated, as well as Jewish and Israeli leaders. It constitutes the minimalist position of those who have looked at the material: the Israelis almost surely did not do the shooting.

Scenario 4: Palestinians on Purpose

Those who adhere to this scenario: Very few people openly espouse this one, although those who do tend to know the material well, are familiar with the willingness of the Palestinian elites to sacrifice their children “for the cause”, and don’t care about political correctness. Those few who have publicly argued this have suffered considerable damage.

Scenario 5: Staged

This scenario was virtually “unthinkable” initially, and it is still often misunderstood by people who have difficulty imagining it. It represents a radically different approach to the case, calling into question the fundamental assumption of all four previous scenarios, i.e. that the boy was indeed shot. The power of suggestion, and the almost instinctive suspension of disbelief with which most of us look at “news footage” has made this so unbelievable a scenario that many people (including prominent government officials, Israeli and American), are unaware that this is even an option. Over the last two years or so, however, it has become increasingly adopted by those who study the dossier carefully.

“Staging” refers to an incident that may contain real action (hurling stones and Molotov cocktails) designed to provoke a real response – all of which is intended chiefly for the benefit of cameras. “Faking” is pure theatre. Set up exclusively for the benefit of the camera, a faked event is designed to simulate the response that does not actually materialize and feign the injury that never occurs.

Reception in the Arab and Muslim World

IN THE ARAB WORLD

Beyond the Palestinian authority, the image had a powerful galvanizing affect on public opinion in the Arab and Muslim world. This picture was not alone in changing matters, but one notes that the Intifada marks the beginning of a whole new phase of anti-Semitic discourse in the Arab (and Muslim) world. It was as if the floodgates opened and the media was inundated with material that had always been there, but now reached new levels of intensity: Newspapers, movies, TV serials, tapes, books, all served up lurid depictions of the blood libels with new twists, and conspiracy theories, especially the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and Mossad behind 9-11. Omnipresent cartoons, editorials, sermons in mosques replayed on TV spoke with an intensity of hatred and a will to violence, even genocide, that rivaled the Nazi propaganda machine of the 1930s. Finally, and most ominously, the picture made a deep impact on Jihadi circles both in the Arab world and beyond.

The Role of Al-Jazeera

• In Al-Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel That is Challenging The West,” (2005) Hugh Miles describes the role of Al-Jazeera in making Muhammad al-Dura the poster boy of the intifada:

Al-Jazeera ran repeatedly the clip of the boy being shot, and for several days the picture of his dying became the network’s emblem of the intifada. This had a deeply galvanizing effect on the wider Arab public. Arabs everywhere became desperate for bulletins from the Occupied Territories, but state-run Arab news providers were slow to give good coverage … from the very start Al-Jazeera’s live coverage from the front line far outstripped any other network’s coverage.” (pp. 73/74)

Fouad Ajami, director of the program in Middle East Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, piece on Al-Jazeera television (“What the Muslim World is Watching,“) New York Times Magazine, November 18, 2001 described the “incendiary” manner in which the network covered the al-Dura episode:

The station played and replayed the heart-rending footage of 12-year-old Muhammed al-Durra, who was shot in Gaza and died in his father’s arms. The images’ ceaseless repetition signaled the arrival of a new, sensational breed of Arab journalism. Even some Palestinians questioned the opportunistic way Al-Jazeera handled the tragic incident. But the channel savored the publicity and the controversy all the same.

Al Durah in the Arab Press

• The image of al-Dura constitutes a symbol of all the oppression suffered by the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis. It is a permanent symbol of Palestinian suffering.

• The “martyrdom” of al-Dura serves as a justification for suicide operations against Israeli civilians. As the Egyptian Journalist Fahmi Huweidi put it after the Sbarro Pizza attack:

Likewise, I know that Israel has no mercy on any Palestinian and does not distinguish between a fighter and a woman, a child or an elderly [person]. The child Muhammad Al-Dura was not known as a member of the “Islamic Jihad” or the “Al-Qassam Brigades,” he was killed simply for being Palestinian. Why is this so? Why do we not regret Palestinian blood but are shocked by blood when it is Israeli? Why do we shed a tear over the innocent victims who sat in the pizza restaurant on Thursday? It should be known that these citizens, like every Israeli man and woman, are accomplices in the crime of the robbery of Palestine [have we forgotten?] not to mention that they are reservists who turn into fighters and killers at the drop of a dime. (August 2001)

Note the importance of both Muhammad’s innocence and deliberate Israeli killing — the mercilessness — in Huweidi’s defense of suicide terrorism. Because they killed an innocent boy on purpose — as Talal says, “in cold blood,” so can we.

• Palestinian Authority and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat sees the “martyrdom” of al-Dura as an example to be followed:

No one can rule that nation of giants [i.e., the Palestinian people]. One-hundred and four years passed since the first [Zionist] convention in Basle [Switzerland, 1897] where it was claimed that our land is ‘a land without a people for a people without a homeland [i.e., the Jews].’ When Golda Meir was asked about the Palestinian people she said ‘there are no Palestinians.’ Today, the martyr Muhammad al-Dura and all our martyrs in paradise tell them: ‘We are a nation of giants, we shall defend the frontline land.’ (December 2001)

• Al- Qaddafi (Libya) associates the helpless image of the death of al-Dura with a general Arab malaise of cowardice. Expressing his anger at the current Arab condition he said that the Arabs have nothing “but to cry the same they did for Muhammad al-Durah.”

• Five years later, an Arab News columnist calls the al-Dura death

a lasting image of the war against the Palestinian people and how Israel has conducted it … It recorded reality in a visual way that will be etched in our consciousness for generations to come. (September 2005)

Three thousand Palestinian children took part in a massive demonstration staged by the Islamic Jihad movement on the fifth anniversary of Al-Aqsa Intifada and the commemoration of Mohammad Al-Dura’s killing. (October 2005)

AL DURAH AND GLOBAL JIHAD

What Enderlin may not have understood when he claimed that the boy and the father were “the target of fire coming from the Israeli position,” is that according to the Sharia on Jihad, Muslims may not kill the women and children among their enemies, unless they kill Muslim civilians. When Osama bin Laden made a recruiting video in the immediate aftermath of the incident, published months before 9-11, he had a special section on Muhamed.


Bin Laden Recruiting Video. Note that the targets are not only the Jews (Yahud), but their allies, and all those cowardly Arab governments who fail to take vengeance.

After 9-11, Bin Laden made a statement entitled, “Nineteen Students,” that aired on al Jazeera TV, December 26, 2001. In it he refers repeatedly to al Durah as a justification for his deeds.

The deliberate killing of children in Palestine today is the ugliest, most oppressive, and hostile act, and something that threatens all of humanity. History knows that one who kills children, even if rarely, is a follower of Pharaoh… Slaughtering children was something for which the head of oppression and unbelief, and hostility, Pharaoh was famous; yet the sons of Israel have done the same thing to our sons in Palestine. The whole world has witnessed Israeli soldiers killing Muhammad al Durreh and many others like him…

So in fact it is as if Israel — and those backing it in America — have killed all the children in the world. What will stop Israel killing our sons tomorrow, in Tabuk, al Jauf and other areas? What would the rulers do if Israel hroadened its territory according to what they allege is written in their false, oppressive, unjust books, which say “our borders extend as far as Medina”? [NB: This even farther than the traditional paranoid fantasy from the Nile to the Euphrates.] What will rulers do except submit to this American Zionist lobby?

Rational people must wake up or what befell Muhammad al-Durreh and his brothers will happen tomorrow to their sons and women. The is no strength or power except in God… The events of the 22nd of Jamada al Thani or Aylul [9-11] are merely a response to the continuous injustice inflicted upon our sons in Palestine, Iraq,…
Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden, pp. 147-48.

Daniel Pearl was executed as a Jew in that grisly style to which we have become unfortunately familiar – throat slit before the cameras – with a picture of al Durah behind him and scenes of al Durah spliced into the slitting of his throat.

pearl_al-Dura

In the words of Stephanie Gutmann:

Within the montage, shots of Mohammed and Jamal are given a sort of starring role: After Pearl makes his final statement in the confession portion – ‘my father is a Jew; my mother is a Jew; I am a Jew” – there is a cut to Mohammed and father huddling together. Seconds before Pearl is laid on the ground and hands begin to saw at his throat with long knives, a still shot of Jamal al-Dura clasping his dying son flashes on the screen. After Pearl’s detached head is exhibited, hanging from something that allows it to twist slowly in the air, there is a long crawl over a black screen informing the viewer that ‘scenes like this will be repeated’ unless the United States stops supporting Israel and its ‘massacres of children.'” (p.42)

Note that this was the first of now many “execution videos” produced by global Jihadis.

• Columnist Mona Charen, in an article about Mohammed al-Dura titled “Contrived Image” makes also reference to the video of Daniel Pearl’s death.

AL DURAH, THE ICON

• Mohammed al-Dura became an icon for the Arab and Muslim world and he is celebrated in different ways.


Egyptian stamp


Tunisian stamp


Artists celebrate al-Durah
Oil on Canvas, Intifada Collection, By: Hicham Takache, 2001

• Festivals in honor of the Shaheed Mohammad al-Dura. For example, the Al Quds Festival.

• Several poems (read here and here) and songs dedicated to Mohammad al-Dura in the Arab and Muslim media. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai composed a poem in honor of al-Dura.

GAZA STRIP

IRAN

Music video broadcasted since December 2000 in Palestinian Television, showing al-Dura calling children to follow him to paradise: “I am waving to you, not in parting, but to say, follow me…- Muhammad al-Dura”

Saudi Fashion Designer Al-Bishri designed a dress featuring bloodstains, an Israeli tank and a picture of Muhammad Al-Durra. Al-Bishri said that he had dedicated the dress to the children of the intifada.

[NB the presence in the “artwork” of the blood absent in reality.]

• Streets named after al-Dura in Iran, Morocco, Egypt re-named the street in front of the Israeli embassy “Muhammad al Durra Street” and Iraq named a main thoroughfare in Baghdad “Martyr Mohammed al-Dura Street.”

• The Iranian Ministry of Education developed a website commemorating al-Dura.

JEWS AS NAZIS COMPARISON

• The Saudi ambassador to England said that the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank was “far more severe than anything the Germans did when they occupied Europe in World War Two” (July 2002)

• Reporting of “atrocities” committed by Israelis is presented as “proof” that “Jews act like Nazis.

• Dr. ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al-Rantisi, a top Hamas activist in the Gaza Strip, writes that “Comparing Zionism and Nazism Insults the Nazis.” (August 2003)

In a sense, all this is standard fare in the Arab world, where such comparisons are a staple of anti-Zionist rhetoric. Part of the significance of al-Durah is that the story spread such comparisons to the West.

Demonstration in Place de la République, Paris, October 2000. The equation of Nazism and Zionism under the aegis of Al Durah.

NEXT: Al Durah in the European/Western World: Reception and Consequences II.

The Lineaments of Al Durah Journalism

Al Durah Journalism: We use the term DuraJournalists to designate those journalists who take a credulous stance towards Arab lethal narratives about Israel, passing them on to us, their readers and listeners, as “news,” or at least, as perfectly believable claims about the news. DuraJournalists instrumentalize the evidence, and when faced with anomalous details, ignore or dismiss them. Rather than look for clues, DuraJournalists clean up the mess. They live on rekaB Street.

Since all wars have their lethal narratives, and all war-makers want to enlist journalists in spreading theirs, examples of lethal journalism can be found throughout the history of the press in war. Indeed, democracies founded on peaceful relations, need a press that can accurately identify both false evidence and lethal narratives as part of their professional effort to provide us with the most accurate and relevant information they can.

DurahJournalism did not begin with the al Durah affair, but it derives its name from that incident because, after that icon shocked the world – as “true” – the DurahJournalists seized hegemonic control of the conflict’s depiction. Al Durah provided the till-then missing proof of the constant Palestinian refrain about Israelis heartlessly killing Palestinian children.

After that, for the next twelve years and counting, this school of journalism dominated the scene, either winning converts or silencing dissent. In the process, wittingly or unwittingly, journalists of this school, unimpeded by their colleagues, systematically pumped the information systems of the West with a steady diet of hate literature. Shorn by DuraJournalists of their dishonest, belligerent, genesis, these lethal narratives became all the more powerful on the global stage, because outsiders presumed this is an honest account of what actually happened. To Palestinians, Muhammad is the “martyr of the world,” because, thanks to France2 and everyone else who followed Enderlin’s lead, “the whole world saw it”.

Al Durah, offers a classic example of the working of a lethal narrative and the malevolent intent it attributes to the Israelis. As a picture of a boy caught in a cross-fire, it has the power to provoke empathy, indeed deep compassion, but not to mobilize hatred. There is no way that the picture of a boy tragically dead in an unnecessary war could compete with, much less replace, the image of the boy in the Warsaw ghetto, which symbolizes a million children murdered by the Nazis. Only a picture of a deliberate, cold-blooded child murder could do that. And Enderlin opened the door wide to that narrative with his carefully weighed “the target of fire coming from the Israeli position.” The rest of the pack followed suit immediately: The Israelis on purpose.

Major Characteristics of DurahJournalism:

Epistemological: 1) believe whatever the Palestinians claim until proven wrong; 2) doubt whatever the Israelis say in response until proven right; and 3) if that becomes the case, move on to the next as-yet-unproven lethal narrative. The pattern is consistent over time, from the accusation of the IDF poisoning schoolgirls in Jenin in 1983, to Jenin in 2002, to the Mavi Marmara in 2010, and shows few signs of abating in the second decade of the 21st century.

David-Goliath framing: the dogmatic frame of DuraJournalism is the Palestinian David vs. the Israeli Goliath. If necessary, DuraJournalists will re-label anomalous details to fit the procrustean morality tale. Thus Tuvia Grossman, nearly beaten to death by rioting Palestinians and saved by an Israeli border policeman becomes, at the hands of an AP caption writer, a Palestinian beaten by that same border guard. Since the Palestinians are by definition innocent, the story begins with Israel’s retaliation which must, by definition, be disproportionate. Pallywood footage is created to meet the demands of this framing narrative.

Subordinating the evidence to the narrative frame: edit stories and films in ways that exclude inconvenient, anomalous, or unhelpful evidence. Editors compile Pallywood footage for B-roll by cutting out the elements that reveal the staging, and stringing together the believable sight-bytes. Charles Enderlin cut the final 10 seconds of the minimal footage that Talal sent him (59 seconds), in order to eliminate the child’s deliberate movements coming after he, Charles, had declared him dead. Thus, a genocidal sermon broadcast on PATV appears in a NYT article on Palestinian incitement, without any reference to the genocidal content.  In such a fashion, DuraJournalists manage to deny real hate speech, even as they are the distribution point for that hate-speech.

Pack journalism: Enderlin started a landslide. Even CNN came over to the tale. Dozens of major journalists have access to the unedited footage of this spectacular story, and not one chose to present to the public the final scene that Charles cut. Pack journalism dominated the ‘00s when it came to coverage. Reports that Hamas was refusing to allow aid into Gaza from Egypt during Operation Cast Lead (2008), did not inspire journalists to go to the Egyptian border and get the story. They sat on a hillside in Israel, complaining that the Israelis were keeping them from the action, even as they ran a steady stream of lethal narratives about how supplies were running low and a humanitarian disaster imminent.

Denied Intimidation: One of the major advantages that the “weak” side of an anti-democratic asymmetric war has over the stronger, democratic enemies in dealing with journalists is their willingness to use violence. Killings and kidnappings of journalists in such cognitive wars occur, if not repeatedly, often enough to make the message clear. Daniel Pearl’s execution as a Jew and as a journalist, served notice on a whole generation of journalists. Denial is an essential part of the process of intimidation: Journalists can’t report that they’ve been intimidated without calling into question the reliability of their reporting.. And yet the evidence for such intimidation, although periodic (like the aftermath of the Ramallah lynching), is powerful in its implications, and should alert the attentive observer to the remarkable overlap between the actual coverage of the conflict by mainstream journalists and what one might expect from pervasive intimidation from the Palestinians. (This includes the journalists’ efforts, whenever asked abou the subject, to change the subject to Israeli intimidation). The response to Alan Johnston’s kidnapping – “why would they kidnap him, he was their best friend” – speaks eloquently to the point.

Access Journalism: The most fundamental leverage exercised over journalists is access, and in some senses, that’ s a universal phenomenon: the White House plays it, everyone does. But in cases where intimidation is pervasive (Saddam’s Iraq, Arafat’s West Bank, Haniyah’s Gaza), access means having a handler who accompanies and translates and directs you gently toward what you can and can’t photograph. Access, then, is never “free” and “unsupervised.” And, correspondingly, loss of access is not merely that people won’t speak to you, but that your presence was no longer permitted. After the previously very pro-Palestinian photographer, ***, wrote about his experience at Ramallah the day of the savage lynching – “I’ll have nightmares all my life” – he was told by his Palestinian friends that he had better leave.

Advocacy journalism: The pronounced ideological sympathy of many journalists for the “weak side” of many conflicts is widespread, and often, as in Darfur, for example, justified. In other situations where the morality tale is less clear (Syria), difficulties accumulate for any honest reporter. In the Arab-Israeli conflict, the support for the Palestinian “underdog” not only ignores progressive values, but clings to the “Palestinian David-Israeli Goliath” framework with dogmatic insistence. It is perfectly reasonable that some journalists might look at this conflict and sympathize more with the Palestinians. But the pack mentality, the reluctance to publicize negative material about the Palestinians (genocidal preachers), the epistemological priority given to the Palestinian victim narrative, all attest to positions that reflect more than the sober assessment of the evidence. One can even wonder if the advocacy were a way for the journalist to handle the cognitive dissonance of intimidation: “I’m not scared, I’m brave, and I stand up for the little guy.”

Honor-Shame Journalism: Cover up mistakes. As Anne -Elisabeth Moutet put it,

In France, you can’t own up to a mistake. This is a country where the law of the Circus Maximus still applies: Vae victis, Woe to the vanquished. Slip, and it’s thumbs-down. Not for nothing was Brennus a Gaul. His modern French heirs don’t do apologies well, or at all if they can possibly help it. Why should they? That would be an admission of weakness. Blink, and you become the fall guy.

Thus, in case of an error, the honor-shame dynamic kicks in: do everything possible to avoid admitting so, thus preserving the journalist’s and the media outlet’s reputation. Every news provider wants to be known as the most trusted name in news. France2, in the case of the Karsenty affair, where they have spent huge sums of money attacking a civilian who has criticized them, rather than answer his challenge, takes this instinct for cover-up to some of the most absurd lengths.

 

Examples of Lethal Journalism

NB: We welcome all essays on this topic, including those not directly related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

News analysis that examines alDurah Journalism:

Perhaps the first major wave of DurahJournalism came with the coverage of Operation Defensive Shield’s siege of the Jenin Refugee camp, ground zero for the suicide bombers that had plagued Israel for two years before they responded in force.

A particularly revealing episode of the corporatism and self-protectiveness of the media in refusing to reconsider coverage that, no matter how damaging, might damage the framing of the conflict between Israel and her neighbors came in response to Philippe Karsenty’s victory in the Appeals court in 2008.

2013 May: NYTimes/Kershner – Israeli Report Casting New Doubts on Shooting in Gaza

May 19, 2013, 8:30 pm
By ISABEL KERSHNER

JERUSALEM — The images seen around the world were shocking: a young boy being shot dead as he crouched behind his father at a dusty junction in Gaza in September 2000. But the facts behind the images have been disputed almost from the start, and on Sunday, the Israeli government asserted that there was no evidence for the original account of the event, which was that the boy was hit by Israeli bullets — and that it was even possible that neither the boy nor his father had been struck by any bullets at all.

The original television report — filmed by France 2, a public television channel, at the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada — had a powerful impact, galvanizing the uprising and fueling international criticism of Israel.

The boy, who was identified as Muhammad al-Dura, 12, became a symbol of the struggle against Israel; his name was invoked by Osama bin Laden, and images of him cowering behind his father have appeared on postage stamps across the region.

Although an Israeli general initially told reporters at a news conference that the boy had apparently been hit by Israeli gunfire, as the television report stated, an investigation by the Israeli military found a few weeks later that it was more likely that the boy had been hit by bullets fired by Palestinians during the exchanges of fire in the area. In 2007, an official Israeli document described the assertions that the boy had been killed by Israeli fire as “myth.”

The new findings published on Sunday were the work of an Israeli government review committee, which said its task was to re-examine the event “in light of the continued damage it has caused to Israel.” They come after years of debate over the veracity of the France 2 report, which was filmed by a Gaza correspondent, Talal Abu Rahma, and narrated by the station’s Jerusalem bureau chief, Charles Enderlin, who was not at the present at the scene.

The Israeli government review suggested, as other critics have, that the France 2 footage might have been staged. It noted anomalies like the apparent lack of blood in appropriate places at the scene, and said that raw footage from the seconds after the boy’s apparent death seem to show him raising his arm.

“Contrary to the report’s claim that the boy is killed, the committee’s review of the raw footage showed that in the final scenes, which were not broadcast by France 2, the boy is seen to be alive,” the review said. “Based on the available evidence, it appears significantly more likely that Palestinian gunmen were the source of the shots which appear to have impacted in the vicinity” of the boy and his father.

France 2 and Mr. Enderlin have pursued a libel case in the French courts against Philippe Karsenty, who runs a French media watchdog group and who accused the network of broadcasting a staged scene as news. A trial court reached a verdict against Mr. Karsenty in the matter in 2006, but the verdict was overturned on appeal in 2008; France 2 appealed that decision to a higher court, which is expected to rule on Wednesday.

France 2, Mr. Enderlin and Mr. Abu Rahma have consistently defended their report. Mr. Enderlin told the Agence France-Presse news service on Sunday, “We are ready for an independent public inquiry.”

Mr. Enderlin described the Israeli government report as a “secret commission,” writing on his Twitter account on Sunday that the committee had contacted neither France 2, the boy’s father, Jamal, nor others who were at the scene.

Source: http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/israeli-report-casting-new-doubts-on-shooting-in-gaza/
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2013 May 19: Report of the Government Review Committee Regarding France2 Al Durah

Prime Minister’s Office – Publication of the Report of the Government Review Committee Regarding the France 2 Al-Durrah Report, its Consequences
and Implications
19/05/2013

The Government Review Committee: “The France 2 report’s central claims and accusations had no basis in the material which the station had in its possession at the time…There is no evidence that the IDF was in any way responsible for causing any of the alleged injuries to Jamal or the boy”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received today the report of the Government Review Committee on “The France 2 Al-Durrah Report, its Consequences and Implications.” The report was presented by the Minister of International Affairs, Strategy and Intelligence Yuval Steinitz, in the presence of Director General of the Ministry of International Affairs and Strategy, Yossi Kuperwasser.

Prime Minister Netanyahu directed then Minister of Strategic Affairs Yaalon to set up the governmental review committee in September 2012. The purpose of the committee was to examine the Al-Durrah affair in light of the continued damage it has caused to Israel, and to formulate the Government of Israel’s position with regards to it.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “It is important to focus on this incident – which has slandered Israel’s reputation. This is a manifestation of the ongoing, mendacious campaign to delegitimize Israel. There is only one way to counter lies, and that is through the truth. Only the truth can prevail over lies.”

Minister of International Affairs, Strategy and Intelligence Yuval Steinitz: ” The Al-Durrah affair is a modern-day blood libel against the State of Israel, alongside other blood libels like the claims of an alleged massacre in Jenin. The France 2 report was utterly baseless.”

The Al-Durrah affair has its origins in a media report first aired by the French public television channel France 2 on September 30, 2000. The report claimed to show the killing of a Palestinian boy, targeted along with his father, according to the report, by fire from an Israeli position. The story was quickly relayed worldwide by the international media, which repeated the report’s claim. The report had the immediate effect of harming Israel’s international standing and fanning the flames of terror and hate.

Since that day, the narrative spawned by the France 2 report has served as an inspiration and justification for terrorism, anti-Semitism, and the delegitimization of Israel. The echoes of the Al-Durrah report, both in terms of accusations against Israel and in terms of media reports adopted uncritically by the international media which are later revealed to be false or misleading, have continued to resonate in the media coverage of Israel’s operations against terrorist organizations.

In light of the Al-Durrah narrative’s continued deleterious consequences, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed then Minister of Strategic Affairs Yaalon with setting up the governmental review committee. The committee was comprised of representatives of relevant government ministries and official bodies, and consulted with outside experts.

Following an extensive review of materials related to the affair, the committee determines that:

  •  The France 2 report’s central claims and accusations had no basis in the material which the station had in its possession at the time of the report:
  • Contrary to the report’s claim that the boy is killed, the committee’s review of the raw footage showed that in the final scenes, which were not broadcast by France 2, the boy is seen to be alive.
  • The review revealed that there is no evidence that Jamal or the boy were wounded in the manner claimed in the report, and that the footage does not depict Jamal as having been badly injured. In contrast, there are numerous indications that the two were not struck by bullets at all.
  • The review showed that it is highly-doubtful that bullet holes in the vicinity of the two could have had their source in fire from the Israeli position, as implied in the France 2 report.
  • The report was edited and narrated in such a way as to create the misleading impression that it substantiated the claims made therein.
  • Over time numerous additional inconsistencies and contradictions have come to light, and question marks have been raised regarding nearly every aspect of the report.
  • The report relied entirely on the station’s local stringer, without additional evidence for his claims, and this despite the fact that there were numerous other media crews on the scene. The stringer’s various claims regarding the affair in the years since the incident have been characterized by repeated contradictions and falsehoods.

The Al-Durrah affair demonstrates the need for media outlets to implement the highest professional and ethical standards when covering asymmetric conflicts. There is a particular need for international media outlets to critically evaluate information provided by local stringers, especially in arenas in which repeated attempts to stage or fabricate media items have been documented.

An additional lesson of the Al-Durrah affair is that countries which scrupulously adhere to the international laws of armed conflict must not remain complacent in the face of misleading or mendacious media coverage. Rather they must investigate the claims in a thorough and timely manner and present their findings to the public.

Source: http://www.pmo.gov.il/English/MediaCenter/Events/Documents/adora.doc
http://www.pmo.gov.il/English/MediaCenter/Spokesman/Pages/spokeadora190513.aspx

 

 

2013 Sellem/Times of Israel: Official Israeli government report concludes the « death » of Mohamed al Dura was staged

Official Israeli government report concludes the « death » of Mohamed al Dura was staged
MAY 13, 2013, 12:13 AM

Jonathan-Simon Sellem is a former newscaster in France who made aliya in 2006 as war reporter during the 2nd Lebanon War… [More]

On Friday May 10th, the Israeli weekly Sof Shavoua revealed the imminent release of an Israeli government report on the al Dura affair that will clearly assert that the “death” of the Palestinian youth, Mohamed al Dura, was staged. This concords with the conclusions reached years ago by the scientist Nahum Shahaf, followed by the late Gérard Huber, Stéphane Juffa and, of course, Philippe Karsenty, who led the combat to bring out the truth in the French courts (the verdict in the last trial will be pronounced by the Appeals Court on May 22, 2013).

This is a complete turnabout and an important development because initially the Israeli government had admitted that the army might have killed the boy, unintentionally, of course. Then, after investigation, the army concluded that it had not shot the boy, but the damage was done and Israeli officials did not want to bring up the affair again.

However, according to our sources, it would seem that the crimes of Mohamed Merah in Toulouse in March 2012 changed the situation. In fact, for many years, Israelis hoped that the affair would die down and be forgotten with time.

At the same time, foreign intellectuals, on the first line of which Philippe Karsenty, had pressed the State of Israel to review its position in view of the massive exploitation of the image of Mohamed al Dura in Arab-Muslim and Western medias.

Before he was killed by French police, Merah declared that he had killed Jewish children in revenge for the death of Palestinian children in Gaza; others referred clearly to the “death” of Mohamed al Dura.

Revelation of the report and the tone of its conclusions is attributed to the deputy Nachman Shaï who recently questioned Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon. The latter revealed that the investigating commission had worked discreetly and scrupulously under the direction of General Yossi Kuperwasser. The commission was composed of a large number of specialists and scientific experts.

This official report stands as a serious indictment of France 2, Charles Enderlin and of France itself; the diplomatic services awarded the Legion of Honor to Charles Enderlin in 2009, and the French establishment has always protected the falsified France 2 reportage. It should be recalled that France 2 is a public television network wholly owned by the State and the director is appointed directly by the French President.

According to our sources, French authorities were informed in advance of the preparation of this report but did not wish to cooperate.