Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Unravelling of the al Durah Killing

Remember that boy in 2000 who was allegedly killed in the crossfire between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers, as he and his father hid next to a wall? This killing enraged many Palestinians at the start of the second intifada, and brought worldwide condemnation of Israel.

Trial proceedings have commenced in France: Charles Enderling (who covered the story) and France 2 are pitted against Phillipe Karsenty. Karsenty called Enderlin a liar for the coverage of this alleged non-event, and called for Enderlin and his boss, Arlette Chabot, to resign.

Richard Landes, an expert witness, has written about this here. Most damning is this section, when he describes viewing unedited footage never shown on TV:

And second, when I saw the raw footage in the summer of 2003--especially when I saw the scene Enderlin had cut, wherein the boy(allegedly shot in the stomach, but holding his hand over his eyes) picks up his elbow and looks around--I realized that this was not a film of a boy dying, but a clumsily staged scene.

On October 31, 2003, at the studios of France2 in Jerusalem in the company of Charles Enderlin and his Israeli cameraman, I saw the raw footage of Al Durah from the only Palestinian cameraman who actually captured the scene on film--footage France2 still refuses to release for public examination. I was floored. The tapes feature a long succession of obviously faked injuries; brutal, hasty evacuation scenes; and people ducking for cover while others stand around. One fellow grabbed his leg in agony, then, upon seeing that no one would come to carry him away, walked away without a limp. It was stunning. That was no cameraman's conspiracy: It was everyone--a public secret about which news consumers had no clue.

But the real shock came when I mentioned this to Enderlin, who said he trusted this cameraman. "They always do that," he said. "It's a cultural style." So why wouldn't they have faked Al Durah? "They're not good enough," he said. A year later, the higher-ups at France2 made the same remark to three French journalists who also noted the pervasive staging: "You know well that it's always like that," they said.

Nothing like excusing media manipulation and deception by acknowledging it's prevalent elsewhere.

(Hat tip: Little Green Footballs)

UPDATE: LGF reports that Enderlin and France 2 have won the libel case, although Karsenty has said he will appeal. The victory can mean one of two things: either Karsenty had insufficient evidence to persuade the court, or the court is indifferent to the evidence. Enderlin and France 2 were clever to seek only 1 Euro in damages, to promote their victimhood status.

UPDATE 2: Jersualem Post's Caroline Glick covers the story here.

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