The Al Durah Trials: Portrait of French Culture at the Beginning of the 21st Century

This fall three trials will take place in Paris at the Palais de Justice on the Ile de la Cité concerning the Al Durah affair.

palais de justice

Palais de Justice

I will be covering these trials in person on this blog and encourage others to follow the events closely because these trials — the issues, the mechanics of justice, the reaction of the public — tell us and will tell us a great deal about French society at the beginning of the 21st century. As a result, I will try to post something daily on the issues, stakes, and dynamics of what is happening. My first posting will be a memo on the overall issues.

1. Introduction

Starting on the 14 of September, 2006, there will be a series of three trials of individual French citizens who used internet sites to publish criticism of France2’s coverage of the Muhammad al Durah affair. Each of these trials invokes an 1881 law on press freedom that protects the individual, group, ethnicity, or religion from defamation that “strikes at the honor and consideration (reputation) of ”the individual or institution in question” (either France2 or Charles Enderlin).

The statements for which these individuals have been brought to trial are mild by American standards: “come protest France2’s gigantic manipulation…” “Charles Enderlin has committed grave professional errors…” “grave presumptions of disinformation exist around this affair…” “France2’s continuous refusals [to open an investigation] constitute so many brutal and unacceptable obstructions in the search for and demonstration of the truth.” Yet many of the people I have consulted on this matter think that France2 will win their cases. “French justice is not like American justice,” one Frenchman said to me. “C’est trucquée.” [It's fixed.]

These trials all come before the juges d’instructions in Room 17 of the Tribunal de grande instance de Paris, Palais de Justice. This is a magnificent courtroom, the high court of French Justice.

grande instance

The trials will take place fairly rapidly (two to three hours for each one), and the decisions will come within several weeks.

Two of these trials were initiated by France2 and Charles Enderlin in late 2002 when the first substantial evidence of either gross negligence or criminal manipulation first became available, and provoked public demonstrations concerning al Durah. The evidence was MENA’s short documentary and Esther Schapira’s longer Three Bullets and a Dead Child. The third trial (first to reach the court) dates from two year later and concerns an article written by Philippe Karsenty at his Media watchdog site, Media Ratings, in which he argues explicitly that the al Durah footage was staged and that heads should roll. The trials were inaugurated at a time when France2’s version enjoyed almost complete dominion in public opinion, even among Jews. At the time, France2 could count on widespread support for their position from other journalists. The plaintiffs aim at using the law of 1881, designed to keep journalists from abusing their freedoms and defaming members of the public, to stifle public criticism of a case of journalistic negligence that defamed an entire people.

Since then, however, a great deal has changed. Fallow’s piece in the Atlantic Monthly (June 2003), multiple articles on the internet, and Nidra Poller s piece in Commentary, have shifted opinion among those who are informed. Only people who have not seen the evidence still argue for scenario 1 (Israelis on purpose), even if most remain shy of scenario 5 (staged). In addition the material available at Second Draft has made it possible for anyone to view the evidence for him or herself, and Pallywood has become not only a widespread term, but a spur to rapid skepticism at Palestinian and now Lebanese efforts to produce new icons of sympathy and hatred.

But the shift goes still further: even among French media elites the word is out. In November of 2005 the scandal almost broke when two independent journalists – Daniel LeConte of Arte and Denis Jeanbar of L’Express — saw the Palestinian cameraman Talal abu Rahma’s rushes (what he recorded during the previous half hour). The embarrassment was palpable. Apparently, Jeanbar and Leconte were as astonished as was I, and also commented on the pervasive staging. They got the same answer from Enderlin’s boss that I got from Enderlin: “Oh, they do that all the time.” “You may know that,” responded Jeanbar, “ but your viewers don’t.”

And they still don’t know. The measures protecting media from having to admit error in this matter mobilized. Some heavy efforts from people of influence got both independent journalists to stop discussing the matter. If the public sees the rushes, this private embarrassment could become a terminal catastrophe for France2.

In the final analysis, these are not arcane French legal matters at stake, but tests of the French ability to meet 21st century challenges. This is a Dreyfus affair played out in an international theatre in which the country’s success or failure has global implications.

2. Scope of the Issue:

The reported death of the young Al Durah operated in the Arab and Muslim world, and to a lesser extent in the media and academic world of the West, as a powerfully iconic instance of blood libel. A father had stood by impotently as the Israelis – in cold blood – shot down his pathetically terrified son. The Israelis deliberately kill innocent and defenseless children. In the West it appeared as a “real” proof of Israeli malevolence and a justifiable source of outrage to a beleaguered people fighting for their independence.

Almost immediately, in demonstrations all over Europe, a combination of radical “left” and Muslim “immigrants” denounced Israel’s barbarity. The vehemence of these repeated demonstrations often spilled over into violence, especially against Jews. Europe got it’s “Arab/Muslim Street” as a result: both its vulnerability to public violence, and a major injection of anti-Semitic discourse.

manif place de la republique
[Demonstration at Place de la Republique, Paris, date unknown, possibly October 7, 2000.]

But the evidence cannot support charges of Israeli evil intent or culpability and the icon operated as a call not to Palestinian liberation but to global Jihad. Europeans, who thought they had a “get out of Holocaust-guilt free card” were actually waving the flag of global Jihad, in which they, as infidels, were as much the targets of the hostility as the Israelis, in front of their Muslim populations, and approving (or looking the other way) as the violence against Jews increased alarmingly.

The Al Durah case is a mutli-faceted tale that can tell us a great deal about the disturbing direction of events in Europe (and the West) since 2000. It brings into play:

1. The radical misreading of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a Palestinian struggle for national independence rather than a part of global Jihad, which has the Europeans siding with the forces of global jihad against themselves.

2. The ways in which this pro-Palestinian rhetoric has introduced an Arab street in Europe and strengthened the forces of Islamism and Jihad around the globe.

3. The roles played by the French and European media in this process, and the exceptional denial that permeates French public life on the issues of Eurabia and global Jihad.

4. The fundamental significance of anti-Zionism in European perceptions of the Al Durah icon, and how Al Durah as a 21st century blood libel has opened the gates to both Islamic anti-Semitism and more overt European anti-Zionism.

5. The ways that French (and European) politicians have ignored the rise of anti-Semitism in their midst through repeated denial.

6. The relationship between anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism and the dimensions of France’s “politics of resentment.”

7. The close connections between the French media (especially AFP) and the French foreign policy elite (Quai d’Orsay)

8. The ways the French legal system has functioned both in encouraging anti-Jewish violence with its lenient sentencing of anti-Jewish comments and deeds, and is now being used to silence any criticism.

9. Overall, the way the al Durah affair has played out in France over the last 6 years shows in painful detail the dysfunctions of French culture and politics, and illustrates the ways in which Eurabia operates. We can see clearly that Europe has become vulnerable to aggressive Islamism and Jihadism in the cause and effect of Pallywood’s success among European media gatekeepers. The European media are astonishingly credulous when considering video footage that is transparently dishonest.

If the public could view the complete Al Durah video (Talal’s “rushes”), I think the reaction would be astonishment — and indignation at the media. It would be obvious that there is a direct correlation between media manipulation of information and the broad public support for anti-Zionism. But, absent the complete video, the eagerness with which Europeans “learned” about Muhammad al Durah’s “death” at the hands of the Israelis, made the fake so much more acceptable. In like fashion, the shocking news from Kafr Kana has triggered a horrified call to cease fire immediately. The West is being victimized by its enemies’ manipulation of images, for those deceitful icons and faked reports are received uncritically, even when not enthusiastically, by the West’s own media. Given that synergy between Islamist malice and easily-duped news outlets, how can the Western public make intelligent decisions?

Al Durah represents a major error of the French media that have severe problems living up to their ethical standards (déontologie). The consequences of this particular error have had a catastrophic impact on both Israelis (their reputation) and the Palestinians (led into a losing war with this picture as incitement). They have also done serious damage globally to the fabric of civil society. If free and responsible (hence reasonably accurate) media are the eyes and ears of civil society, then we are flying blinded by this kind of information over very dangerous terrain. The ability of French courts to defend the rights of citizens to criticize the media’s work and make their criticisms known, to assess the evidence before them fairly, and to understand what is at stake in their decision – all of these matters will be played out this fall in the Parisian court.

Much in our troubled world hangs in the balance. The more people know, the more the judges become self-conscious about making their decision, and the more we can hope that France will make a sane decision from the perspective of both the law and the media. And if the French courts decide against these defendants, then at least those of us paying attention will have a sense of just how reliable French society is, and how resilient it will be in these coming years.

47 Responses to The Al Durah Trials: Portrait of French Culture at the Beginning of the 21st Century

  1. Harry Forbes says:

    A great post, Richard, but it leaves me with a question;
    What will happen to the video as a result of the trial? Under the French law and rules of evidence in this case, will the judges or the public likely see the complete Al Durah video (or more of it)? Will the video become a piece of evidence in this trial, or is France2 allowed by law to keep it out of sight?

    I honestly don’t know. I have been told since I first started working on this in 2003 that France2 will never release the tapes. I think that public opinion, sufficiently aroused, could do it. But in France, apparently, public opinion is considered impotent. (Which is why, I think, they’re in so much trouble.)

  2. Colin Meade says:

    So maybe the defence should concentrate on trying to create a climate where the “rushes” have to be released.

  3. RL says:

    response to HF and CM:
    i am trying my best to make France2 release the rushes to the public. when i saw them i was amazed. when i told people in france that we had to get france2 to release them, they laughed at me. “Jamais tu feras ca!” [you'll never do that].
    by the normal rules of the game, they’re right. i’m counting on the power of public opinion (very american of me). but maybe people in europe are beginning to wake up to the dangers of remaining passive before a radically irresponsible media and a looming threat.
    stay tuned….

  4. Andrew Gow says:

    Wonderful expose, Richard–this could well be another Dreyfus Affair. The rushes are the key here; without them, all depends on the French legal system adopting a standard of transparency that French bureaucracy has never embraced–a crucial standard that is met, if only fitfully and imperfectly, in other western democracies, and which remains one of the fundamental building blocks of civil society and thus something worth fighting for.

    Ain’t that the truth. As I put it: the media are the eyes and the ears of civil society: if the free citizenry, empowered to make decisions, does so on the basis of radically faulty information, that experiment in civil society is not long for this world. Helas.

    While an individual sense of responsibility and accountability (rather than merely ‘individualism’) invoked by Ken Lydell (above) is a necessary precondition for such transparency, its origins and development seem to me much more obscure than Lydell suggests. A generation of specialized scholarship on the Reformation OUTSIDE of Harvard (where the champion of Protestantism Steven Ozment still defends an older paradigm) has demonstrated that the old Weberian and broader Protestant triumphalist narrative about the role of the Reformation on the road to modernity has been grossly exaggerated. A culture of individual responsibility and accountability (to others and to society) was already growing in the later Middle Ages, esp. in the cities; the invention of the confessional in counter-Reformation Milan by the Borromeos arguably did as much for this process as the Reformation did–after 1555, Protestantism lost its way, changing from a bold voice of conscience to the obligatory observance of a rigid theology enforced by princes and synods–hardly a religion of individualism. This remained the ground tenor of most Protestant confessions until the eighteenth century.

    Interesting point. This is what I call the shift from honor-shame to integrity-guilt. Not easy, constantly shifting process.

    If I were looking for the heyday of individualism, the ‘Enlightenment’ would seem to me (a historian of the later Middle Ages and Reformation trained by the same person who trained Steven Ozment, as above) a better candidate. And the development of individual responsibility and accountability owes a lot to Victorian culture–classicism, Ciceronian public virtues taught in public schools in the Latin curriculum, the expansion of the franchise and the introduction of the civil service exams in Britain all speak more clearly of civil society than the _deeds_ (as opposed to the treatises) of the Reformers and their successors ever have. And the Peace of Westphalia was in 1648, by the way.

    Thanks for the thoughts. The work of David Zaret on the emergence of the public sphere and democratic tendencies during the English civil war (1640-60), and the contemporaneous emergence of a scientific community based on trust outlined by Shapin strike me as critical dimensions of the story before the “enlightenment.” Are you sure you’re not changing one “triumphalist narrative” for another?

  5. The Al Durah Trials:

    Richard Landes examines the big picture surrounding the trials of three French citizens who used internet sites to criticize France 2′s coverage of the Mohammed al-Durah affair. “This is a Dreyfus affair played out in an international theatre in whic…

  6. igout says:

    Fascinating. I’ve read that before WW1 the French press was notorious for taking bribe money, notably from the Russian and German governments. Is there the stink of Arab money to this affair, do you think? Plus ca change…
    Also, do you know whether there were any whistle-blowers back then who fell afoul of this 1881 law? Also, was Zola prosecuted under it?

  7. Adina Kutnicki says:

    Shalom Richard,

    Let me offer my best wishes (with lots of finger crossing) for your trip to Paris.

    It is not an understatement to suggest that your efforts, and its attending results, could change the face of how the world views the accuracy of reporting (or the lack thereof) on Arab/Israel issues. It is also not for nothing that many are currently jumping on the bandwagon, finally realizing the role the media plays in manipulating the news. As I am sure you know, LGF has a running commentary of this topic at the top of their site.

    People with a conscience from all walks of life owe you a debt of gratitude for bringing this issue to the global forefront.

    I will check your site periodically to garner the latest news (hopefully good) from your trip. I am forwarding your email regarding your trip to my vast ‘army’ of Israel supporters.

    Best regards,
    Adina Kutnicki

  8. Paul Scham,
    I think your comment belongs to Richard’s prior post (his fisking of your article) and I think your comment here deserves a much longer response but if I may inject the point of view of a Psychoanalyst into the mix, I would suggest that you over-estimate the possibility of reason in the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim v Israel conundrum. In fact, when one side of a conflict derives its existential purpose in the destruction of the other, even if there are many well-meaning, reasonable members of the society, the emotions and processes thus mobilized, murderous (genocidal) rage, paranoid projection and hatred, are incompatible with reason and rationality. Even the most rational and well-meaning interlocutor has no chance of being heard. Until both sides agree on certain basics, that they each have a claim, perhaps imperfect, but inviolable, to life itself, there can be no further discussion. The Arab states and the Arab peoples declared war on Israel in 1948 and they remain, psychologically and too often in reality, at war.
    As Richard pointed out, the Israelis have accepted the Palestinian narrative, in large measure, despite their sense that it often departs drastically from reality and is noxious in its effects; Israel has publicly accepted the Palestinian’s right to a state of their own; until the Palestinians agree that Israel has a right to exist, there is really nothing to talk about.

  9. Michael Devereaux says:

    I have only three questions:

    1) First, will these three trials be covered in the media, especially video media, to include France TV?

    I think these trials were supposed to happen without anyone noticing, with the machinery of justice crushing the little guy, and done. I’m hoping that, by alerting the blogosphere, we can crash the party. If you have any means to push the matter in various MSM venues, please do. This is much bigger than just the fate of three media critics.

    2) Second, will that half hour of rushes that shows the deliberate staging of the event, followed by the deliberate deception by the video journalist; will that be shown?

    Hopefully. I would say that for judges to pass judgment without seeing them would be a travesty. But what do I know, I’m just a medievalist who stuck his nose in someone else’s business.

    3. Will the defense be allowed to show any of the analysis that I have seen that proves how ludicrous the whole anti-Israeli propaganda effort really was?

    You expose your bias. :-) I must say I have no idea how any of this occurs. All I’ve learned so far about French justice is “it’s not like American or English.”

  10. Stephanie Gutmann says:

    Mr. Scham, I don’t understand your point in the BitterLemons piece Richard references here.

    What is important NOW in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is behavior–not all this intangible stuff about appreciating narratives.

    The Israelis withdrew from Gaza. Maybe they did not do that completely enough for you, but they did it–at a lot of social cost–and that withdrawal was part of a program of unilateral withdrawal that might very well have led to withdrawal from the West Bank as well. Certainly the Israeli public supported that program at the time.

    So what was the behavior of Fatah and its militias and of Hamas? A step up of rocketing into Israel, with new, stronger Kassam rockets, that reached deeper into Israeli territory than ever before.

    It doesn’t matter how much “appreciating of narratives” either side was doing, the Israeli government has an obligation to protect its people and its economy, and thus it is obligated to unleash its military to react to behavior by the other side. There are concrete facts on the ground. One must attend to them.

    As far as “appreciating narratives” goes, however, it seems to me that there’s quite a bit of that in Israel–in its universities, in its art and culture, and in its vigorous free press. I am not trying to knock the Palestinian people. I have great affection for many Palestinians, but one simply cannot give their government, or culture, or press the same kind of credit.

    Who knows what kind of reflection the Palestinians would be capable of with a free press to stimulate discussion, but the simple fact–another concrete fact on the ground–is that their press is completely and utterly controlled by their government and largely used for propaganda of the crudest kind.

    So instead of writing melancholy, disingenuously accusatory articles in BitterLemons about “the catastrophe” and Israel’s failure to appreciate their narrative, Palestinian intellectuals should be using their clout to fight for a free press for their people! Why are they not doing this? Is it because it is easier to maunder in BitterLemons than to face down a dictatorship? I think so…But anything else is a cowardly and immoral abrogation of responsibility.

    And you, if you care about the Palestinian people at all you would goad your friends in the Palestinian intelligensia until they met this responsibility.

    (For the record, I have spent a good deal of time in the West Bank–in homes, in businesses, at checkpoints–and what I experienced was a people hungry for a free and open flow of information.)

    Sincerely,
    Stephanie Gutmann

  11. Gila Walker says:

    A recent article by Shmuel Trigano on the opinion pages of the French daily Libération has stirred up some controversy and a couple of lengthy responses that the newspaper has published, including one by Bruno Stevens, described as an independent photo journalist. You can consult the full text of Stevens article at http://www.liberation.fr/opinions/rebonds/202324.FR.php
    but I would like your reaction to the following paragraph.

    Je vous enjoins, M. Trigano, d’appeler France 2 et de leur demander de pouvoir visionner l’entièreté de la cassette filmée par leur cameraman Talal Jalouni, à Netzarim, lors de la mort de Mohammed al-Dura. Les quatorze minutes de cette vidéo sont absolument insoutenables ; je suis à votre disposition pour vous montrer les photos et des plans des lieux (détruits quelques jours plus tard par l’IDF…).

    Is the man lying effrontement?

  12. RL says:

    To Gila: I would love to see the rushes with him. I have no idea what he’s talking about. I just posted on my viewing of the rushes.

    As to whether he’s a bald-faced liar, I don’t know. Haven’t met him, can’t say. I know that Elisabeth Schemla saw the rushes and said, “they show us nothing.” I assume she wasn’t lying, but merely working on what they gave us about al Durah (nothing new). But she seems so fixated on new stuff on al Durah that she missed the real story — Pallywood.

    On the other hand, “insoutenable” is Enderlin’s language: unbearable. I found them ludicrous. Not a real scene of suffering. So I don’t know what he’s talking about.

  13. sisu says:

    “How does one create a riot on film?”

    This is John Miller, reporting live from Khartoum . . . Go behind the cops and do it again, says the reporter in the soundtrack of a behind-the-scenes clip at the website of ABCs controversial forthcoming miniseries, The Path to

  14. Covering Al Durah

    Solomonia

    Richard Landes has begun his series of posts that will take us up to the trials involving France2′s coverage of the Muhammed al Durah affair. He will be appearing at the trials in person and is now writing to bring everyone up to speed on …

  15. jc durbant says:

    Thanx for a great ansd important post, but we’d need something in French to get people to push for the release of that damn tape – here’s my little contribution :

    http://jcdurbant.blog.lemonde.fr/jcdurbant/2006/07/rendeznous_les_.html

    http://jcdurbant.blog.lemonde.fr/jcdurbant/2006/01/le_mythe_al_dur.html

    And then let’s not forget the Free world’s only Mohammed cartoon suit also coming soon in France :

    http://jcdurbant.blog.lemonde.fr/jcdurbant/2006/08/lurss_qui_na_pa.html

    Keep up the good work!

  16. [...] ks. For a general introduction to the upcoming trials and the larger stakes involved, see The Al Durah Trials: [...]

  17. Helene Keller-Lind says:

    Most of what Richard Landes is true: the rise of antisemitism in France, the use of the Al Dura case by the Arab world, etc.
    However, France 2 gave a press conference opened to journalists in which everything was open. Any question could be asked, photos were shown, rushes too.
    Together with the film maker Pierre Rehov I brought up the case of “who killed the kid ?” and Arlette Chabot, then head of France 2 clearly said that “no one can state that he was killed by Israeli soldiers”. Statement she made on Radio J, a French Jewish Radio, when interviewed by its director, Michel Zerbib.
    A case I had defended from the outset in an article in “Israel Magazine”.
    Which is also what Esther Shapira says in her film.And what France Israel and its then president said in a press release in which he included a telling diagram from drone pictures that showed where all the people involved were, i.e. the child and his father behind a barrel, the Israeli outpost and its narrow windows, the other six firing positions, all Palestinian, including a high buliding. And the doctor interviewed by Esther Shapira stated that the wounds of the child came from “above”….
    The problem with some people who have taken up the case later on is that some claim that the whole thing was staged. And there is absolutely no proof whatsoever of it. Including in the said rushes. The fact that some people “train” to fake being wounded, etc. in no way can prove that the Al Durah episode was staged. The so-called “proofs” given by the head of the MENA in a press conference at France-Israel in Paris only convinced the poeple who already were. Indeed giving as “proof” the fact a Palestinian doctor could not remember the time when the kid was brought to the hospital he works in some 2 or even 3 years, if not more, after the actual event is no proof at all. Especialy as many dead or dying people were taken to the hospital in 2 or 3 years.
    The problem being that if the courts don’t buy the “staged” scenario any more than I and other people who followed the whole thing from the word “go” don’t, then the hard core and essential lie, i.e. the fact that it is more than highly unlikely that the kid was killed by Israeli shots will then be swept under the carpet. Which would be a crying shame.

  18. RL says:

    Response to HK-L:

    Most of what Richard Landes is true: the rise of antisemitism in France, the use of the Al Dura case by the Arab world, etc.

    However, France 2 gave a press conference opened to journalists in which everything was open. Any question could be asked, photos were shown, rushes too.

    there was a press conference where France2 showed Talal’s rushes? I’ve never heard of it. when did it happen?

    Together with the film maker Pierre Rehov I brought up the case of “who killed the kid ?” and Arlette Chabot, then head of France 2 clearly said that “no one can state that he was killed by Israeli soldiers”.

    But that’s precisely what both Talal claimed in a statement under oath and Enderlin did in his broadcast: “le cible de tirs venus de la position israelienne.”

    Statement she made on Radio J, a French Jewish Radio, when interviewed by its director, Michel Zerbib.

    do we have the transcript of this?

    if she believes that why has she not fired Enderlin who is directly responsible for this image’s diffusion as an Israeli crime throughout the Arab and European world? If a poll were taken today and people shown the photograph and asked who killed him, how many people in France would a) recognize him, and b) say the Israelis killed him?

    A case I had defended from the outset in an article in “Israel Magazine”.

    is that online? can you give us a reference?

    Which is also what Esther Shapira says in her film. And what France Israel and its then president said in a press release in which he included a telling diagram from drone pictures that showed where all the people involved were, i.e. the child and his father behind a barrel, the Israeli outpost and its narrow windows, the other six firing positions, all Palestinian, including a high buliding.

    are you saying the Palestinians killed him? and if so, on purpose or by accident?

    And the doctor interviewed by Esther Shapira stated that the wounds of the child came from “above”….

    how can the doctor know anything? (palestinian doctors commonly claim that their victims were shot by the israelis even though they weren’t at the scene but in their hospital at the time of the shooting.) all the boy has to do is lean forward and any bullet entering his body will look like it’s “from above.”

    the doctor in Esther Schapira’s film clearly did not have a clue as to what he was talking about (he was accusing the Israelis of doing it from their “tower” which was empty at the time of the “shooting”).

    The problem with some people who have taken up the case later on is that some claim that the whole thing was staged. And there is absolutely no proof whatsoever of it.

    i’m confused by your totalistic language. there’s actually plenty of evidence for staging, including the absence of any blood and the lad moving. you seem to be taking the minimalist position taken also by Fallows and, as you say, Schapira. my question to you all is: what do you think is a more plausible explanation and how do you explain the exceptional amount of evidence against any other scenario?

    Including in the said rushes. The fact that some people “train” to fake being wounded, etc. in no way can prove that the Al Durah episode was staged.

    agreed. but it does show a) that faking is a public secret and widespread; b) that Enderlin and other MSM news outlets are regularly duped by the fakes; and c) that Talal has no problem with fakes.

    and altho granted that the rushes are not probative, once one trains one’s eye for the fakes, many details begin to indicate a fake in the al durah footage (including the behavior of the boy in scene 6, including his hand over his eyes rather than on his stomach “wound”) and the absence of blood, not to mention the paltry 59 seconds of footage of a supposed 40 minute drama, itself broken down into 6 takes. why don’t we have an probative evidence that the boy was even shot (like a sea of blood on the sidewalk)?

    The so-called “proofs” given by the head of the MENA in a press conference at France-Israel in Paris only convinced the poeple who already were. Indeed giving as “proof” the fact a Palestinian doctor could not remember the time when the kid was brought to the hospital he works in some 2 or even 3 years, if not more, after the actual event is no proof at all.
    Especialy as many dead or dying people were taken to the hospital in 2 or 3 years.

    the doctor’s remarks were made within less than a month since he spoke to Shahaf in October of 2000, and the point was not that he couldn’t remember, but that both answers from separate doctors — 11am and 1pm — could not indicate al Durah since the footage of his shooting is 3, and according to talal’s completely unsupported testimony, it would not have been before 4 that his body arrived.

    The problem being that if the courts don’t buy the “staged” scenario any more than I and other people who followed the whole thing from the word “go” don’t, then the hard core and essential lie, i.e. the fact that it is more than highly unlikely that the kid was killed by Israeli shots will then be swept under the carpet. Which would be a crying shame.

    agreed. of course the courts need not buy that it was staged. their decision has to be focused on whether it is slanderous to criticize Enderlin and France2 for their work, which, given things like Enderlin cutting scene 6 and then telling everyone it was the death throes and he had spared us pain, i think is a pretty straightforward “no.”

    but in any case, allow me to ask you when the last time you examined the evidence is? and whether you’ve had a chance to look quietly and carefully at the evidence or not, which is now available at the Second Draft.

  19. Soccer Dad says:

    Haveil Havalim #86

    Here is this week’s Haveil Havalim. Due to the demands of a newborn – frankly her soft breathing is a lot more wonderful than the klackety klack of keyboard – I haven’t been able to complete it yet. Please continue checking back over the course of th…

  20. Helene Keller-Lind says:

    Response to Richard Landes:
    1. I can’t recall the date but I went with Pierre Rehov. and we did ask a ? about Enderlin’s statement. Which was 100 % false ( i.e. Israeli soldiers had deliberately killed the kid.
    2. rushes. I did see them. Maybe shown by MENA during its press conference with France-Israel. Maybe during that press conference. Or both. But Arlette Chabot answered all questions asked and showed it all. Including pictures of the dead child in the hospital’s morgue. If it was fake the fakes were extremely good and convincing. Maybe Tussaud was asked to do a “corpse” that looked 100 % like the kid.
    The rushes showed, at one point, people pretending to have been shot and die. Recently such a staged rehearsal was filmed by an Israeli drone and I have written about it in Actualité Juive.
    BUT this proves absolutely NOTHING about the Al-Dura episode.
    3. Indeed both Talal and Enderlin stated as facts what they certainly neither saw nor could prove.
    I am sure that if you ask Michel Zerbib he will confirm what Arlette Chabot did say. Pierre Rehov and myself are witnesses to it to.
    Now as to why France 2 did nothing about Enderlin’s lies, don’t ask me, ask them or get a court to ask them.
    4. What the MENA said about the doctor confusiing times was stated by its head who said his team had questionned the said doctor. And he did not get hold of the story, nor did some of the people you quote after some years had gone by.
    I am not aware that Sharaf – who was invited in Paris by Pierre Rehov in Paris and gave a lecture with the B’nai B’rith and was clearly confused, including taking what was proved later on to be a shadow as a mark for a film crew. The then president of the French BB, who happens to be a doctor can testify to it -
    5. My and others’ approach is in no way “totalistic”. I went to the MENA mecture with an open mind. But no definite proof was given. I’ll chack your proofs and see what I think of them.
    You mention blood.The whole thing took anly a few seconds. There is an instant gush of blood in movies. But any doctor will tell you that that gushing blood depends on where the person was hit and the wounds do not necessarily produce gushes of blood at once. As for the kid moving, I clearly remmeber from science lessons at high school that the poor frogs that were killed did carry on moving for a while after their death.
    It is also said that chikens whose heads are severed carry on running for a while. The moving therefore does not prove anything either.
    5. As for a “trained eye,” Pierre Rehov is a film maker who has focused for the last 5 years on the Palestinian scene and whose latest film “Suicide Killers” opened in NY recently, does indeed have an expert eye for fakes. It was even thanks to his documentary “The Road to Jenin” that the maker of “Jenin, Jenin” had to admit in an Israeli court that some of his film did not tell the truth and the whole truth.In that film Pierre Rehov also shows “fakes” he filmed. Including the lies of teh Jenin hospital’s director.
    We saw again and again, together with some other film experts, the Al Dura short France 2 film and saw no “fake” of any kind. And had we seen them we would have been the first to expose them !
    Actually Pierre Rehov lodged a complaint against France 2 at a very early stage but the case was closed very quickly and the complaint was dismissed.
    So neither his good faith nor mine can be doubted in any way. As one of the pro “living-dead” theory onec spat at me in front a quite a few witnesses.
    6. I have followed the whole case very carefully from the start. And, again, went to the MENA public lecture with a very open mind. But completely failed to be convinced.
    7. I think it is a shame that things have been handled that way as the court will probably find that the “livig-dead” theory can’t be supported and will probably condemn people who support it, hence discreditiong the only thing that has been proved, i.e. that Enderlin and Talal did lie when stating the kid was killed by Israeli soldiers. Which Arlette Chabot did acknowlege twice to my knowledge. One of them being when both Pierre Rehov and I heard her clearly as we had asked the question.

  21. Rudi says:

    Hello Richard,
    A question I never saw raised: Enderlin has the Israeli nationality, so have the people of Mena. Why did Enderlin never sue them in front of an Israeli court? Maybe he would then be obliged to release “all” the non-existant rushes?

    Your opinion?

    regards

    I’m not sure. I actually think that Enderlin has convinced himself that he’s innocent, and that the tapes prove nothing. That may be why he drew me a false diagram of the intersection with the Israeli’s placed in the wrong side of the main highway, and let me walk out with it. But “cognitive dissonance” works at many levels, and he may instinctively know that Israel’s not a good venue for him. The French courts are clearly a more favorable venue… and being basically French, he doesn’t really think what happens in Israeli courts or media is important. He’s only really interested in France, as is his company, France2.

  22. RL says:

    Second round of responses to HK-L.

    Response to Richard Landes:
    1. I can’t recall the date but I went with Pierre Rehov. and we did ask a ? about Enderlin’s statement. Which was 100 % false ( i.e. Israeli soldiers had deliberately killed the kid.
    2. rushes. I did see them. Maybe shown by MENA during its press conference with France-Israel. Maybe during that press conference. Or both. But Arlette Chabot answered all questions asked and showed it all. Including pictures of the dead child in the hospital’s morgue. If it was fake the fakes were extremely good and convincing. Maybe Tussaud was asked to do a “corpse” that looked 100 % like the kid.

    The body is surely that of a dead child. Is it Muhammad al Durah? Or is it a kid around the same age who was brought in to the hospital somewhere between 11 AM and 1 PM? Or if it’s Muhammad al Durah, when and how did he get shot? No one that I know is claiming that this child in the hospital is not dead.

    The rushes showed, at one point, people pretending to have been shot and die. Recently such a staged rehearsal was filmed by an Israeli drone and I have written about it in Actualité Juive.
    BUT this proves absolutely NOTHING about the Al-Dura episode.

    First, the rushes don’t show this pretence “at one point,” but at every point. Second, I don’t understand why you are so adamant “BUT… absolutely NOTHING…” It does not prove anything, but it demonstrates a mind-boggling disdain for the basic canons of journalistic integrity. It shows that a) the Palestinian crowd is part of a large project to fake footage; b) that cameramen with Western equipment like Talal, have no hesitation filming the fakes and passing them on as “news”, and c) that Western media experts like Enderlin regularly run such fakes as news. So while it may “prove” nothing, it surely raises the odds immensely of something that is close to unthinkable to us — the systematic faking of news footage, including the scene with al Durah.

    3. Indeed both Talal and Enderlin stated as facts what they certainly neither saw nor could prove.
    I am sure that if you ask Michel Zerbib he will confirm what Arlette Chabot did say. Pierre Rehov and myself are witnesses to it to. Now as to why France 2 did nothing about Enderlin’s lies, don’t ask me, ask them or get a court to ask them.

    I’m still unclear as to what Chabot said. Did she say that Talal and Enderlin stated as facts, things they neither saw nor could prove? And if so, why hasn’t she fired them?

    4. What the MENA said about the doctor confusing times was stated by its head who said his team had questioned the said doctor. And he did not get hold of the story, nor did some of the people you quote after some years had gone by.
    I am not aware that Shahaf – who was invited in Paris by Pierre Rehov in Paris and gave a lecture with the B’nai B’rith and was clearly confused, including taking what was proved later on to be a shadow as a mark for a film crew. The then president of the French BB, who happens to be a doctor can testify to it -

    I’m not sure what you’re refering to. Is the shadow is the two fingers across the lens at the end of take 3? Shahaf thinks it’s a sign that it’s the end of a “take.” Again, it’s not probative, but it is suspicious.

    5. My and others’ approach is in no way “totalistic”. I went to the MENA mecture with an open mind. But no definite proof was given. I’ll chack your proofs and see what I think of them.

    It’s not your approach that is totalistic, but your language: “absolutely no proof…”

    You mention blood. The whole thing took only a few seconds.

    According to Talal, the whole thing took over 40 minutes including 20 minutes of bleeding to death while the Israelis shot dead an ambulance driver who had come to evacuate the boy and the father. The fact that we have so little of any of it on film — and no footage of the ambulance — despite Talal being right nearby is incomprehensible. (Talal claims his batteries were dying but a) there were lots of other cameramen in the area to pick up a 40-minute long agony, and b) he took a shot of a later ambulance evacuation near the intersection, so his camera was not “dead”.)

    There is an instant gush of blood in movies. But any doctor will tell you that that gushing blood depends on where the person was hit and the wounds do not necessarily produce gushes of blood at once.

    You’re right. But any doctor will tell you that a wound to the stomach — and you saw the pictures of the boy in the hospital, his stomach literally ripped open — causes huge bleeding. Indeed a stomach wound is deadly primarily because of loss of blood. And again, all at once is not the issue. Listen to Talal tell you: “…the boy was bleeding more than fifteen to twenty minutes…

    As for the kid moving, I clearly remember from science lessons at high school that the poor frogs that were killed did carry on moving for a while after their death. It is also said that chikens whose heads are severed carry on running for a while. The moving therefore does not prove anything either.

    Unquestionably there are things such as death throes. Just let me know if that’s what this looks like.

    5. As for a “trained eye,” Pierre Rehov is a film maker who has focused for the last 5 years on the Palestinian scene and whose latest film “Suicide Killers” opened in NY recently, does indeed have an expert eye for fakes. It was even thanks to his documentary “The Road to Jenin” that the maker of “Jenin, Jenin” had to admit in an Israeli court that some of his film did not tell the truth and the whole truth.In that film Pierre Rehov also shows “fakes” he filmed. Including the lies of the Jenin hospital’s director.
    We saw again and again, together with some other film experts, the Al Dura short France 2 film and saw no “fake” of any kind. And had we seen them we would have been the first to expose them !
    Actually Pierre Rehov lodged a complaint against France 2 at a very early stage but the case was closed very quickly and the complaint was dismissed.
    So neither his good faith nor mine can be doubted in any way. As one of the pro “living-dead” theory once spat at me in front a quite a few witnesses.

    I’m unaware that Pierre Rehov does not think it’s a fake. I’ve spoken with him and am under the impression that he does think it’s staged. I’ll ask him to comment. As for good faith, I’m not questioning it. I don’t think Elisabeth Schemla is in bad faith, but she could walk away from a viewing of the rushes and say, “they tell us nothing,” when I walked away saying, “Oh my God! they fake it all the time! And Enderlin knows it. And he doesn’t care!” As for your experience with the pro-staged theorists, I’m sorry. I’m in fact very interested in learning more abou the early history of this story, since I only joined the fray in 2003.

    6. I have followed the whole case very carefully from the start. And, again, went to the MENA public lecture with a very open mind. But completely failed to be convinced.

    That’s interesting, because as soon as I saw their film, I was convinced. Only later did I get to see Shahaf’s work in his studio and even later Talal’s rushes at the France2 studios in Jerusalem with Enderlin which literally blew me away with how pervasive the faking in Palestinian camera work. I’d be interested in your response to my essay on resistance to the “staged” hypothesis.

    7. I think it is a shame that things have been handled that way as the court will probably find that the “living-dead” theory can’t be supported and will probably condemn people who support it, hence discrediting the only thing that has been proved, i.e. that Enderlin and Talal did lie when stating the kid was killed by Israeli soldiers. Which Arlette Chabot did acknowlege twice to my knowledge. One of them being when both Pierre Rehov and I heard her clearly as we had asked the question.

    Again, this trial is not about whether it’s staged or not, but whether criticizing Talal and Enderlin was a matter of defamation or legitimate criticism. Given what you say Chabot has admitted, that doesn’t seem like so difficult a case to make. Further, if Chabot actually admitted that, why did she not fire both of them for such outrageously irresponsible and terrifyingly damaging claims?

    And, if I could ask you again, what do you think did happen?

  23. [...] French blogging scandal A new Dreyfus affair? One commentor at this [...]

  24. Upcoming French Court Cases

    There are some interesting cases due to come up before various courts in Paris. … The other court case though is about part of the original Pallywood – the faked killing of Mohammed al-Durah. The Augean Stables has three adjacent posts that set the…

  25. [...] ès Al-Durah : état d’esprit de la France du début du XXIe siècle Article original : The Al Durah Trials: [...]

  26. Lynne T says:

    Fascinating. I’ve read that before WW1 the French press was notorious for taking bribe money, notably from the Russian and German governments. Is there the stink of Arab money to this affair, do you think? Plus ca change…

    [...]

    Comment by igout — September 6, 2006 @ 11:36 am

    igout:

    C’mon. You don’t have to go back to WW I to find stories about French duplicity, and not just its media. Senior French government officials were beneficiaries of Saddam’s Oil-for-Food scam at the same time as French reps on the UN Security Council were arguing against invading Iraq. According to numerous sources, the French were one of sanctions-era Iraq’s top three sources of banned weapons (the other two being Russia and China, who also opposed invading).

  27. The Moral Bankruptcy of Europe

    Old Europe has spent quite a bit of time lecturing Americans on our responsibilities to the International Community and the need for multilateralism in managing world affairs. It has been easy to dismiss much of their concern as motivated by

  28. Father of All Fauxtography 2

    A roundup of sites covering the Al Doura Trial Ace of Spades HQ, Atlas Shrugs, Blogofascists, F…France.com, Backspin, Israel Hasbara Committee, Israel Insider, Israel Matzav, Israel National News.com, L’Estrange MySpace Blog, Michelle Malkin, Miss K…

  29. Chris says:

    Decryptage, or “Decoding” in English, caused a sensation when it debuted in France … Decryptage presents the findings of an investigation into the al-Dura …
    http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=46&x_review=7

    Décryptage – Cast, Crew, Reviews, Plot Summary, Comments, Discussion, Taglines, Trailers, Posters, Photos, Showtimes, Link to Official Site, Fan Sites.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0348596/

  30. [...] ost no non-Jews I know have any knowledge of or interest in the al Durah affair, much less the upcoming trials [...]

  31. [...] owingly aired false footage that sparked the Second Intifadah. The trial is going forward under [...]

  32. [...] the forces empowered by diffusing such poisons into the global information stream. These court trials, the [...]

  33. [...] ell with Islamic activists and progressive Europeans. Meanwhile, a mere train ride away, three French Jews are [...]

  34. [...] nd of “gag-order” rulings that characterize the French courts in the matter of Charles Enderlin vs. [...]

  35. [...] ions and individuals. (This is, by the way, what should have happened to Charles Enderlin who tried the same th [...]

  36. [...] es, your institution has responded to criticism of your correspondent’s broadcast by suing French citizens [...]

  37. Kesher Talk says:

    Release the Mohammed al-Dura tapes!

    Would you like to find out what really happened here? Richard Landes, who has been doggedly pursuing the truth of this incident for years, writes: Please sign the petition and send it to everyone. Philippe Karsenty’s appeal trial is coming…

  38. [...] votre société a répondu aux critiques adressées au reportage de votre correspondant en attaquant des citoyen [...]

  39. [...] tapes, your institution has responded to criticism of your correspondent’s broadcast by suing French citizens [...]

  40. [...] ht that, once Jeambar and Leconte saw that France2 not only refused to show the tapes, but pursued individuals i [...]

  41. blogdei says:

    I’m also french and also on trial in this Al-Dura case. My crime was to present to the french speaking visitors of my evangelical-protestant blog another point of view on the death of that child. I did so because i felt, and still feel, the way Mr Enderlin covers the conflicts directly imports the conflict into our country of France, in which antisemite events have exploded since the release of this report.

    My trial is supposed to take place on jan 8th 2008, in the same court.

    Nicolas >

  42. [...] hypothesis” as conspiracy theorists on the order of 9-11 truthers or holocaust deniers, France2 sued independent French citizens who had the nerve to criticize them for their journalistic [...]

  43. [...] those fits of arrogance that often befall those who fool too many people too often, got France2 to sue Philippe Karsenty for saying France2 had presented the staged Al Durah Hoax as real news. In the appeals case, the [...]

  44. [...] (still ongoing) in which the journalist (Enderlin) and his corporation (State-owned France2) tried to silence criticism in the name of the “honor,” both the (communautriste) guild of journalists and the politicized courts, chose the “honor” of [...]

  45. [...] (still ongoing) in which the journalist (Enderlin) and his corporation (State-owned France2) tried to silence criticism in the name of the “honor,” both the (communautriste) guild of journalists and thepoliticized courts, chose the “honor” [...]

  46. […] the tapes, your institution has responded to criticism of your correspondent’ s broadcast by suing French citizens for defamation and keeping the tapes secret for nearly seven years […]

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