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The Durable al-Dura Case

The Durable al-Dura Case

Mideast Media Sampler 06/27/2013 – The Durable al Dura Case

Karsenty, Accountability lose

A few weeks ago Israel’s government released a critique of the Al Dura case. During the so-called “Aqsa intifada,” Mohammed al-Dura was allegedly killed by the IDF during a shootout at the Netzarim Junction in Gaza. Or so it was reported by France’s Channel 2 and its reporter Charles Enderlin. Al-Dura became a cause in the Arab world. His image was put on postage stamps to inflame the “Arab street” against Israel. The Palestinian Authority released a video starring “Al-Dura” encouraging other children to become martyrs.

When the report was released, the Jerusalem Post’s diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon wondered:

But still. Israel, by releasing this report 13 years on, has put this picture back into people’s minds, and it is not entirely clear whose interests are served by resurrecting this potent image.

Richard Landes responded:

What I’m afraid Keinon and the many others like him might be saying here is, in addition to our enemies, who will never drop that bone as long as there’s the most remote trace of the taste of blood on it – al Durah as symbol of Israeli evil – they also fear that the should-be rational people in the West, the liberals who should care about the truth, the journalists whose job it is to care about the truth – who won’t listen either.

But it’s these folks who are our target audience. They are the people – especially the journalists – who need to learn, when they see that image, that it is a symbol not of Israeli desire to kill children as Osama bin Laden and other blood libelers interpreted it, but a symbol of the incompetence of the media and the devastating impact of that incompetence, fortified with a stubborn, honor-shame reflex to deny any fault. Because we – and here I speak on behalf of democracies around the world, indeed all peoples who wish to live in peace and tolerance of the “other,” – we cannot afford the destructive impact of lethal journalism. We cannot afford to have our public sphere become the sewage dump of toxic, hate- and war-mongering lies, especially those of our enemies.

I agree. It wasn’t simply about setting the record straight, but about holding the media accountable. Israel’s decision to take a look at the case was a sign that Israel wasn’t going to let the media get away with broadcasting straight propaganda anymore.

Yesterday, however, a French court disagreed. In 2008 media critic, Philippe Karsenty was vindicated of the charge that he had libeled Enderlin and France 2. Apparently a major factor in that verdict, was that Enderlin was ordered to release the all the footage of the incident, but refused. But the case was appealed and, yesterday, Karsenty was found guilty of defamation. The AP reports:

In a report issued in 2004, Philippe Karsenty said the footage was orchestrated and there was no proof that the boy had been killed.

France-2 sued for defamation, and after a long legal battle, a Paris court fined Karsenty 7,000 euros Wednesday. He called the verdict “outrageous.”

Over the past decade Karsenty has amassed hours of video about the day of the shooting. At the heart of his claim is the fact that, according to the reporting by France-2, father and son received a total of 15 high-velocity bullets but in the video, neither appears to be bleeding. He says the firefight is real, but the shooting of the man and boy was staged for the camera.

At the end of the article, the AP gets reactions. Here’s one:

Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers said the ruling confirmed that Israel and their supporters lied about the military’s practices in the coastal territory.

“They deceive and cover their crimes in front of the media and the world,” said spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

A spokesman for Hamas?!?!!?

Hamas is a terrorist group committed to Israel’s destruction and that’s who the AP gets a reaction from! Jonathan Tobin addressed statements like this that is encouraged all too often in the media:

The al-Dura myth is significant not so much because it annoys Israelis and their friends but because it reinforces the way Palestinians think of themselves and gives them carte blanche to commit any outrage. Debunking it is not pointless. It is the starting point for any effort to answer the lies about Israel that have become the foundation for efforts to isolate and boycott the Jewish state. Friends of Israel ignore it at their peril.

There is no libel against Israel that is too outrageous not to be published uncritically.

Perhaps the best debunking of the report comes from James Fallows who wrote Who Shot Mohammed al-Dura? in the Atlantic ten years ago.

The footage of the shooting is unforgettable, and it illustrates the way in which television transforms reality. I have seen it replayed at least a hundred times now, and on each repetition I can’t help hoping that this time the boy will get himself down low enough, this time the shots will miss. Through the compression involved in editing the footage for a news report, the scene acquired a clear story line by the time European, American, and Middle Eastern audiences saw it on television: Palestinians throw rocks. Israeli soldiers, from the slits in their outpost, shoot back. A little boy is murdered.

What is known about the rest of the day is fragmentary and additionally confusing. A report from a nearby hospital says that a dead boy was admitted on September 30, with two gun wounds to the left side of his torso. But according to the photocopy I saw, the report also says that the boy was admitted at 1:00 P.M.; the tape shows that Mohammed was shot later in the afternoon. The doctor’s report also notes, without further explanation, that the dead boy had a cut down his belly about eight inches long. A boy’s body, wrapped in a Palestinian flag but with his face exposed, was later carried through the streets to a burial site (the exact timing is in dispute). The face looks very much like Mohammed’s in the video footage. Thousands of mourners lined the route. A BBC TV report on the funeral began, “A Palestinian boy has been martyred.” Many of the major U.S. news organizations reported that the funeral was held on the evening of September 30, a few hours after the shooting. Oddly, on film the procession appears to take place in full sunlight, with shadows indicative of midday.

Fallows critique is important. He is not, in any way pro-Israel. He also refuses to believe that Mohammed al-Dura is alive. Still he carefully reviewed all the available evidence and concluded that Enderlin didn’t tell the correct story.

That is what any reasonable critic should have concluded. Unfortunately many in the media simply don’t care. They would rather see their preconceived narratives confirmed rather than examining their prejudices, premises or procedsses. Yeterday’s verdict was a victory for continued media malpractice.

The Algemeiner carried a brief interview with Karsenty yesterday.

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Comments

Juba Doobai! | June 27, 2013 at 11:17 am

Israel should back it up with lawfare. Make the media and the lying Arabs face the courts. Israel may not always win, just as Kersenty didn’t, but the enemy will pay a price they don’t want to: scrutiny of their lies.

    Vascaino in reply to Juba Doobai!. | June 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Where would Israel find the application of lawfare possible for positive results?
    Going to trial in Israel itself would have no effect in the outside world given the attitude of the West.
    The result would be similar to what Arik Sharon received when he went to court against the reporting which vilified him tendentiously. A cent in damages, or was it a dollar?

      Juba Doobai! in reply to Vascaino. | June 28, 2013 at 12:06 am

      But Sharon won, didn’t he? It is the principle, not the reward.

      The dollar doesn’t matter. The victory does.Make them spend the money to defend. Show up the collusion between the media and the Arabs. Show up their lies.

        Vascaino in reply to Juba Doobai!. | June 28, 2013 at 10:57 am

        Maybe Sharon won, but that win was floored by the mocking he was subjected to; a measly penny.
        That only made the very journalists laugh at the finger shaking they received for their “naughty” behaviour.
        They learned nothing about the M.E. and it only became even more clear as the people who murdered that rabbi in NY, were set free, and went on to WWT1 (World Trade Centre’s first taste of terrorism).
        Maybe if journalists were actually held responsible they might have been less inclined to incite to hatred and killing, letting jurists know the facts and context of the situation.

Uncle Samuel | June 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm

So disgusted with leftist propaganda of every sort: Islamic, Marxist, Pansexualist, Globalist, and Climate Change.

All of it is a quest for power by hiding the truth.

From its core texts to its actions today, Islam is a violent, aggressive, racist, misogynist, hate group….one that makes the KKK look like the Rotary Club or Aunt Sophie’s Knitting, Charity and Prayer Group.

Failure to accept and acknowledge that, is delusion, willful deception.

21,100+ violent, murderous jihad attacks after 9/11/01 are proof enough. That’s just published news accounts and not counting rapes, honor killings, genocides and wars.

Islam is as Islam does. Islam blasphemes itself. Islam has made itself a $%^&*#! plague of evil and injustice.

Holding the media accountable won’t be accomplished by publishing a report.
Unfortunately hindsight seems to paint a portrait of malicious intent on the part of the media as one counts distortions , omissions and outright lies.
An example, but of a book, “Fortress Israel…” By Patrick Tyler, on which Benny Morris wrote a article “Athens or Sparta” in Mosaic Magazine criticizing the errors and lies about Israel, displays the readiness to incite hatred.
Holding writers accountable for incitement to hatred and violence will only have positive results when said people feel it in the pocket if not the flesh, and that will only come about when they cannot find any state willing to grant them refuge.
The French are a case in point.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Vascaino. | June 28, 2013 at 12:08 am

    That’s why you need the lawfare to bring these miscreants to the attention of refugee states to encourage such states to reconsider granting refugee status.

BannedbytheGuardian | June 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Al dura – I thought it was going to be about condoms.

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