Second Draft recently received the following comments on our video essays: According to Palestinian Sources I and II: Pallywood and Al Durah. I intersperse responses throughout.
I have watched the “Pallywood” and “Birth of an Icon” videos. The former
clearly shows Palestinian propaganda in the making. The latter is not quite
as convincing because, as you point out, the cameraman’s unused footage has
The unused footage has not been erased. It is not available to the public because France2 refuses to let the public see it. I have seen some of it (about 20 minutes before the sequence with al Durah — pure Pallywood) and some from the next day. I comment on its relevance to Pallywood here, and to al Durah here. One of the major accomplishments of any campaign to reform the press would be to get France2 to release those tapes for public viewing. Not only would it, a) confirm scenario 5, the staged hypothesis, and b) embarrass France2 enormously, but also c) be a salutary warning to other stations to be more careful about using Pallywood footage.
The implication of your film, with Mohammed al Durrah apparently alive and
well after he is supposed to have been fatally wounded, is that the boy is
This is a matter of considerable discussion. One of the first things people assume upon hearing that it may have been staged, is that the boy is alive. Nahum Shahaf is convinced that this is so, and often uses this claim to attract attention to his dossier. We, however, take a different position. We cannot know what happened after the public filming of the incident. What we do think is that in the last take of the infamous sequence, the boy is not yet dead, and does not move like someone with a stomach wound. So the last time we see him he is alive. What happened subsequently is not clear at all.
It would not be too difficult for an honest journalist with
access to the PA territories to find him and his father, perhaps on the
pretext of interviewing the latter about Israeli atrocities. Finding the boy
alive would be a journalistic scoop that even France 2 could not ignore.
The problem is, how many honest journalists have access to the PA Territories? Pierre Rehov reports that before leaving the PA controlled area, he had to submit all his film to the PA for inspection. As anyone who paid attention knows, the Italian crew and the English journalist who filmed the lynching in Ramallah on October 12, 2000, barely escaped with their lives. Now that the Israelis have left Gaza completely, it would take more than just an honest journalist, it would take a courageous one to go looking for evidence of fraud around the al Durah case.
Clearly there are ethical and practical problems. I expect that the boy’s
family have long realised that he is at risk of disappearance or murder by
those who wish his story to remain a simple propaganda victory for the PA.
However, finding the boy alive would be the clearest possible demonstration,
to the Palestinian people as well as to the wider world, that the “news”
emanating from the Middle East is not to be trusted.
True. Of course, this issue of the danger to the PA of a live Muhammed al Durah is not new. It has to have been there from the start. It’s not clear what the situation is concerning the boy’s fate. I like to think that he’s tucked away in an oasis somewhere in Lybia and talks with his family by cell phone. But that’s not probable.