Monthly Archives: September 2007

Risk-Free Dissent: The Psychology of Dhimmi Aggression

Mark Steyn has an excellent piece on the issue of “free speech/academic freedom” and the Ahmadinejad visit to Columbia. In it he raises the issue of “risk-free dissent” which points out the critical inconsistencies of leftist indignation: on the one hand there is no limit to the verbal violence, and far too few limits to the physical violence that “progressives” will indulge in when the target won’t strike back. On the other hand, when we look at the targets that these same progressives take great pains not to offend and refuse to attack, we find that often enough they represent groups who might well make any criticism a costly endeavor.

Risk-free dissent the default mode of our culture

By Mark Steyn

“I’m proud of my university today,” Stina Reksten, a 28-year-old Columbia graduate student from Norway, told the New York Times. “I don’t want to confuse the very dire human rights situation in Iran with the issue here, which is freedom of speech. This is about academic freedom.”

Isn’t it always? But enough about Iran, let’s talk about me! The same university that shouted down an American anti-illegal-immigration activist and the same university culture that just deemed former Harvard honcho Larry Summers too misogynist to be permitted on campus is now congratulating itself over its commitment to “academic freedom.” True, renowned Stanford psychology professor Philip Zimbardo is not happy. “They can have any fascist they want there,” said professor Zimbardo, “but this seems egregious.” But, hey, don’t worry: He was protesting not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presence at Columbia but Donald Rumsfeld’s presence at the Hoover Institution.

The use of “fascist” as an epithet here is a key sign of the terminological disorder of the left. When Bush used the expression Islamofascism, progressives — the very people who called anyone fascist in the 60s who so much as looked at them cross-eyed — all of a sudden discovered the historically specific meaning of fascism. One must not call Islamists fascists.

Enderlin’s Modus Operandi: When in Trouble Lie, then Cover your Behind

There is considerable speculation about Charles Enderlin in the Al Durah affair: When did he know what. Given his commitments to impressionistic journalism — he believed Talal’s account because it corresponded to the situation in Gaza (which he got from Talal) — and his fast and loose relationship to anything resembling real honesty, it’s hard to pick one’s way through his murky testimony.

A particular incident revealed to me by a colleague in France illustrates his modus operandi. According to France2, on September 30, 2002, Talal abu Rahmah sent a fax to their offices rescinding the sworn testimony he had made claiming that the Israelis shot the boy “in cold blood.” This was only revealed to the critics of France2 as a “Oh, by the way…” remark in response to their preparations for a major public protest in October 2002.

Incensed by this shell game — one minute Talal’s testimony is key in supporting Enderlin’s broadcast’s claim that the boy was the “target of fire coming from the Israeli position,” and the next, poof, it’s gone — critics at MENA hammered away at this outrage. Enderlin clearly took a great deal of heat for this, and in an interview with the popular magazine Télérama (a combo of TV Guide and Reader’s Digest), he made the following remark:

[Talal Abou Rahma] a donné des dizaines d’interviews, à beaucoup de médias, y compris des chaînes israéliennes, et la seule dont parle la Ména, c’est celle donnée à une ONG non reconnue par l’ONU, qui lui fait tenir des propos qu’il n’a pas tenus”.

Talal has given dozens of interviews to many media, including Israeli stations, and the only one that MENA speaks about is that given to an NGO that is not recognized by the UN and that has him making claims [i.e., “in cold blood”] that he never made.

The interviewer notes that Enderlin became irritated at this point in the interview. And so he should have. Not only is this a difficult subject in which his dishonesty and bad faith are on full display, but he’s lying to the reporter: the Palestinian Center for Human Rights a UN-recognized institution, and Talal made a statement to them under oath three days after the event. This testimony made it around the world, and many of Talal’s other interviews are merely repetitions of what he said here. So Enderlin’s claim to his interviewer is nothing short of completely dishonest and misleading.

France 2 Tapes: al-Durah Material

Notes by Richard Landes after three viewings

The main material from the France2 tapes has already been discussed at length in terms of its insights into Pallywood and al Durah . In this essay, I will address what the tapes tell us further about the al Durah affair aside from the direct evidence.

The final scene on Talal’s tapes from September 30, just after the al-Durah sequence, shows a man being loaded in an ambulance at the intersection. This footage, which looks like much of the Pallywood footage from earlier in the day (no stretcher, no signs of blood, clumsy evacuation), is clearly neither the boy nor the father (since they would have been very bloody and evacuated from the barrel). If Talal still had enough battery power to take this shot after the al Durah scene, why did he not take more pictures of the allegedly far more lurid al Durah scene – the boy “bleeding for twenty minutes,” the hail of gunfire, their evacuation?

Perhaps the most important information about al Durah on the France2 tapes comes from the day after. This day-after footage has a terrible photo from the previous day of the boy in the hospital (not necessarily Muhamed al Durah) with his stomach torn (or cut) open and his guts spilling out. (I have not been able to get a copy of this photo and would welcome a copy from anyone who has it.) It is difficult to imagine this gaping hole as an entry wound, suggesting that he was either shot from behind or further opened up by doctors in the hospital. In any case, such a wound certainly would have left massive quantities of blood on the ground behind the barrel.

The footage taken apparently early in the morning by Talal (it may be later), however, shows several scenes of the barrel that show no sign of blood where the father and son sat. The ground is slightly darker behind the barrel, which prompted Enderlin to remark to me that perhaps they had either cleaned up the pool of blood, or poured sand over it. Given that the wall should have been splattered with blood, and that the bleeding would have covered far more than the area that is slightly darker, including the wall, this seems like an unlikely explanation.

In any case, the Palestinians involved clearly understood that the lack of blood posed serious problems for their “narrative,” supplied fresh blood for the visit of the journalists who arrived later in the day. The picture below shows the scene around noon (to judge from the lack of shadows).

thumbnail aldura\'s blood

Note the bright red color of the blood, something that no journalist remarked in their reports. (Goldenberg actually refers to the “darkening blood…” — a day later?) Additionally there is no blood on the wall where presumably a total of nine wounds from high-speed bullets would have left quite a display. Finally, all the blood is where Jamal, the father, sat, and none where Muhammad allegedly bled to death for over 20 minutes.

Reflections on the French: Kline Responds to my fisking

In response to my fisking, Brett Kline has written an interesting comment which he kindly has permitted me to turn into a post.

Dear Mr. Landes:
Thank you for taking the time to criticize my paper for JTA. First, you should have posted the updated paper, which includes the Paris judge’s order (request or order?) that France 2 furnish the raw footage for screening.

I still can’t find this.

Then, several points, not necessarily in order of importance. This whole affair has left the arena of Israel-Palestine politics, and has a life of its own as a French media scandal, that probably should be taught in journalism school as an example of manipulation. However, it will never be taught in French school, because the French sincerely do not give a damn about this.
Displaying any emotion in an intellectual debate is a sign of weakness in France. The facts or possible facts do not matter here for the French; what matters is the personalities involved.

For those who read my ramblings about honor-shame culture, this is a signature description of an honor-shame culture. As Henry Higgins put it: “The French don’t really care what they say, actually, just so long as they pronounce it correctly.” Makes the Dreyfus affair, where people passionately cared about what they and others said, even more of a mystery. And of course, it raises the question, can the French rise to occasion this time? If they don’t the consequences are a lot worse than merely condemning an innocent man to Devil’s Island. Their society is at stake.

As for the comment on how it should be in the curriculum of Journalism schools… I not only agree, I’ll go further and say that if it is not, then the future of journalism and a free society will be in jeopardy.

Enderlin is respected as a journalist, so whatever he says is true. Karsenty is seen, for the few who bother to look, as a fringe case, so whatever he says cannot be taken seriously. That is French [honor-shame – rl] logic.

Karsenty did tell me that he believes Enderlin was a part of the staging with the cameraman. That is where I disagree with him, because I respect Enderlin’s work in Israel and Palestine. I think Enderlin was taken for a ride, along with France 2, but the public TV powerhouse will never ever admit that.

How can you think Enderlin ran staged footage of such explosive nature, and still respect his work? Doesn’t this give you pause about the rest of his work? My impression is that he’s “gone over,” not so much to the Palestinian side, but to the Palestinian style. (Upcoming post on that shortly.)

As for Karsenty’s opinion of Enderlin, he tells me he never said anything of the sort, and he has never taken that position in my conversations with him. He’s also smart enough not to say it publicly even if he believes it (many do: Enderlin is not known as “scoop Enderlin” for nothing). And certainly, in the article that got him in trouble, Philippe’s quite explicit that he thinks Enderlin “se trompe.”

Conversations avec Charles Enderlin

Charles Enderlin is a French-born Israeli citizen who has served as France2’s Middle Eastern correspondent for several decades. He was the one to whom Talal abu Rahmah, the Palestinian cameraman who photographed the al Durahs under fire on September 30, 2000 at Netzarim Junction, sent his footage. He edited and presented the footage with a commentary based on Talal’s testimony, and he gave out for free about 3 minutes of raw footage from Talal to any station that wanted it. The full set of Talal’s rushes from that day and the next, however, neither he, nor France2 have been willing to release to the Israeli investigation team or other independent investigators. On October 31, 2003, I had the privilege of viewing the tapes and talking about them with Charles Enderlin and an Israeli cameraman who works for France2. On two subsequent occasions I got to view the tapes and have further conversations with Enderlin.

Charles Enderlin plays a critical role in the Al Durah affair. Without his active effort both to present Talal’s version of events as “news” and to distribute the footage freely to everyone, the tale would never have carried the weight it did. Indeed, had he fired Talal on the spot for trying to put over such a grotesque fake, the story, even the Intifada, might have taken a distinctly different turn. And were Enderlin to have reconsidered and admitted his error, the correction could have come much earlier.

Among those of us who think the footage is staged (Shahaf, Poller, Juffa, Huber, etc.), the question about Enderlin comes down to this: when did he realize it was a fake? Hard-liners argue that he knew it from the start and is a co-conspirator with Talal in duping the global public. Others grant that, in his eagerness to break such a powerful scoop, he overlooked the evidence, and only realized his error later. But how much later?

I honestly do not know. I have a great deal of respect for the power of cognitive dissonance, for the ability of someone as smart as Charles Enderlin to convince himself that this footage is real – as he continues to insist – because the cost of realizing his error would be too crushing. He certainly made enough comments to me that bespoke his spectacular credulity of both Talal and other Palestinian sources to permit an interpretation that has Enderlin “genuinely” unaware of his mistake. On the other hand, Enderlin has enough of a reputation for dissembling that it could all be show. Ultimately, only Charles Enderlin knows.

On Seeing the France2 Tapes from September 30, 2000

In an ongoing series of posts about the France2 tapes, I include this (and two more) about my own experiences:

I had the rare privilege to visit Charles Enderlin at France2 studios in Jerusalem in October 2003, and view about 20 minutes of tape from Talal abu Rachmeh’s work of September 30, 2000. Although I had already become acquainted with a tendency to stage scenes of fighting and ambulance evacuations, I was in for quite a surprise. Talal’s work was considerably more obvious in its filming of fakes, many of them quite badly staged for the cameras. In fact, if the cameraman who filmed the footage at Second Draft, to some extent, a photographer of Pallywood, standing back often and filming both the scene and the set, Talal was a Pallywood photographer, filming up close only the key “sight bytes” (as in the Molotov Cocktail scene ).

At one point, some youth are evacuating a “wounded” comrade, when one of them sees another ambulance with more cameramen. He puts the wounded boy in a headlock and yanks him over to the other ambulance, dragging the other “evacuators” with him. The experience of watching Talal’s work was literally surreal, Alice in Wonderland. I was astonished. It gave me information vertigo. What was going on?

At another point, a boy faked a leg injury, but instead of drawing big kids who could pick him up and rush him past the cameramen to an ambulance, he only attracted little kids. He shooed them away, looked around, and, seeing that no one was coming to evacuate him, straightened up and walked away without a limp. An Israeli cameraman working for France2 who was watching the film with me and Enderlin at the time, laughed at this point.
When I asked him why, he said, “because it looks so fake.”
“That’s my impression as well,” I responded.
Enderlin commented, “Oh, they do that all the time. It’s their cultural style. They exaggerate.”

When I walked out of the office, I was in shock. They do this all the time?! It’s their cultural style? Enderlin’s condescending “orientalism” really disguised an information catastrophe. The joke was on us all – the responsible media, the trusting public, the “scoop”-hungry journalists who rummaged through these cheap scenes, looking for something they could use in the evening’s broadcast. That’s when the term Pallywood first occurred to me.

Other journalists who saw Abu Rahmeh’s rushes in Paris at France2 in the Fall of 2004 had the same impression and got the same answer from France2 executives. In a radio interview , translated here, Daniel Leconte recalls:

the staging which obviously they were obliged to acknowledge as we sat around the table with the representatives of France 2, that is was staged – which is pretty outrageous (quand même extravagant) – and when we said to them, “You can see it’s staged,” one of them said, smiling, “Yes, but you know well that it’s always like that.” [To which Leconte responded:] “You may know that, but your viewers still don’t know.”

At least Leconte and Jeambar still adhere to principles of modern journalism. The PA has no scruples about doctoring film with shots from other days in order to “tell a higher truth.” Charles Enderlin responded to the scandal caused by these revelations with a defense that suggests he has “gone native.” He used Talal’s footage to run his story “because it corresponded with the situation on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” Leconte “even-handedness” – “if we did something on this, we could not do it on this alone.”

It is partly out of the refusal of the MSM to police itself (even rival networks!), and partly out of the brazen refusal of France2 and Charles Enderlin to release their incriminating tapes, that I launched the Second Draft website. Visitors to that site can view the evidence themselves, rapidly become more knowledgeable about the case than the journalists who pretend to inform them, and so, not only pass their own judgments on what happened at Netzarim Junction on September 30, 2000, but also on the quality of the journalism they read in the MSM.

One Arab-American’s Searing Honesty

Remarkable piece by an Arab American who manages to transcend the “my people right or wrong” mentality of honor-shame, tribal culture.

‘I am with Israel’: One Arab-American’s salute

Despite all the spit, kicks & insults, the Jews would rather build than destroy
Wednesday, September 19th 2007, 4:00 AM

One of the greatest Arab poets of the 20th century was a Syrian named Nizar Qabbani. He was, in his own way, the Pablo Neruda of the Middle East. His love poems in particular are on a par with anything Don Pablo wrote.

So, it was with great disappointment that I came across one of Qabbani’s poems written in the late 1990s, entitled, “I Am With Terrorism.” I hoped the title would prove ironic. It didn’t. Not even close.

Just how I felt reading Scott Adam’s piece on Ahmadenijad at Columbia.

In fact, it is one of themost naked, awful pieces of anti-Israel, anti-U.S. drivel I’ve ever read.

Witness this rhetorical device in which he is able to insult two peoples with one poetic stone:
“I am with terrorism as long as this new world order is shared between America and Israel half-half.”

And that is actually one of the more moderate sections of the poem. As an Arab-American, I came away from reading it with a real sense of despair. If one of the great voices of Middle East poetry can do nothing more than recycle the Arabs-as-victims stance, justified in horrendous acts of violence against their “oppressors,” then what hope is there ever that Arabs and Israelis will ever know true peace?

I’d actually take that in a different direction. Forget about the Israelis. What hope is there ever that Arabs will ever know a semblance of peace among themselves?

Having just passed the sixth anniversary of 9/11 – and in the midst of a new conversation about the so-called “Israel Lobby” that allegedly dominates U.S. foreign policy – I want to offer an antidote to that toxic verse and the other vitriol that has poisoned too much Arab thought.

Israel, with all its imperfections, remains the beacon of light for the Middle East. For that reason, I wish to salute her, not only as one of America’s greatest allies in the war on terror, but as one of the true miracle countries of this time or any other.

With no apologies to Qabbani, I give you my twist on his verse:

    “I am with Israel
    because a people so long denied bread and freedom,
    crushed under the wheels of pharaohs, emperors, czars and Führers,
    has done more than any other people to free the world from itself.
    What single people in history have contributed more to faith, science, philosophy and the arts?
    And done so against the greatest odds, with a sword at their throats…
    I am with Israel
    because my people, so long in the desert,
    have not had the courage to acknowledge the great teachers among them,
    but instead have turned on them,
    blamed them for all evil and shed their blood…
    What other people could crawl away from the wreckage of the Holocaust
    and, instead of seeking revenge, build the miracle called Israel?
    Why, as Wufa Sultan has asked, have there been no Jewish homicide bombers?
    Perhaps it is because despite all the spit, kicks and insults they’ve faced,
    along with the constant threat of extinction,
    the Jews would rather build than destroy.
    I am with Israel
    because I am with life,
    and because beyond its verdant desert,
    Israel offers the knowledge that those most desirous of peace and freedom
    are a people who have so long been denied it,
    and who with all they know of the world,
    look still toward Jerusalem and reach for their enemy’s hand.”

Dabul, an editor with the American Congress for Truth, is author of “Deadline,” a novel about terrorism.

If Westerners want to see an example of genuine magnanimity and great heartedness, it’s hard to find anything to compare with this. From your mouth to your fellow Arab-Americans’ ears.

Ahmadenijad at Columbia

I am a member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. They just posted a petition of protest to President Bollinger which I urge you to sign:

We, the undersigned members of the Columbia University community, condemn in the strongest possible terms those responsible for bringing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia University.

This event does not promote academic integrity and honest debate in the true spirit of academic freedom. It gives a podium to an individual who has no intention of speaking or debating in good faith, and who is well known for incitement to genocide; support for world-wide terrorism; imprisoning, mutilating, and murdering academics, trade unionists, journalists, students, and others; and engaging in historical denial and revisionism to justify his despotic agenda.

We disassociate ourselves from the invitation and the event.

Here is a more substantial statement

Segev’s Troubling Segue: Why “Progressives” can’t cope with the al Durah affair

Tom Segev tackles the latest developments in the Al Durah affair. His efforts do not speak well either for his knowledge or his moral compass. Looks more like Enderlin called in a favor: “cover my naked behind.” The result is a fascinating exploration of how confused people like Segev have become in trying to deal with the “clash of myths” that mark Israeli and Palestinian “narratives.”

Paying for the sins of the sons

By Tom Segev

Who killed Mohammed al-Dura?

Mohammed al-Dura died on October 1, 2000 [sic], and his death gave the Palestinian people a national symbol. He was a boy who was killed in his father’s arms, near the Gaza Strip settlement of Netzarim, apparently by Israeli army fire. A television cameraman from France 2 filmed the event, and in the history of the struggle between the Zionist myth and the Palestinian myth there are few images as shocking as these. Naturally, many have tried to prove that the images were fabricated, an effort that persists to this day.

An interesting and telling summary, an only slightly altered version of what Segev might have written six years ago. He has apparently not looked at this material since then since his description of what happened bears little relationship to what’s on the tapes. And yet, as a friend of Enderlin’s, and a reporter for the newspaper most in tune with Enderlin’s political outlook, he could have access to the tapes just by calling up and asking for a viewing.

My favorite is, “the boy who was killed in his father’s arms.” One could fill a scrap book with the articles headlined with “Boy dies in father’s arms.” And yet, nothing of the sort. Not only didn’t he die in his father’s arms, but one of the most disturbing aspects of that brief 55 second sequence when he’s allegedly gunned down, is that from the time he’s allegedly hit — scene 4 — to the end, the father never even reaches for the boy, much less tries to draw him out of the line of fire.

take 4
Take 4: Al Durah declared dead by Enderlin in his report. Father, allegedly hit by 7-8 bullets and reeling from their impact, sits with his spotless Miami Dolphins t-shirt, his torso turned towards the camera.

Take 6: (cut by Enderlin in his report) Despite his multiple wounds, the father has turned away from the son and faces the barrel, leaving the son alone. The son lifts up his arm and looks out.

Then of course there’s the interesting lack of detail about who took the pictures: not a cameraman from France2, but a Palestinian cameraman from France2. Of course, for the politically correct Tom Segev and his Ha-aretz audience, saying he was Palestinian is unnecessary. Why should that detail make any difference. And of course, in a world where liberal cognitive egocentrism has something to do with reality (i.e., a cameraman is a professional and impartial journalist regardless of his national or ethnic origin), it would be perfectly reasonable not to mention the national identity just as it would be reasonable not to mention the color of his hair or his weight — irrelevant. But that’s not the case here, much as Segev wants to pretend. Talal is a member of a highly politicized journalist organization, and has made public avowals of “fighting with his camera.”

Respecting Muslim Sensitivities: Magnanimity or Cowardice?

The New Criterion has an excellent editorial that raises many of the issues of honor-shame culture and our systematic mishandling of our relationship with the Arab/Muslim world as a result of our misunderstanding of the dynamics involved.

Sensitivity’s slippery slope

If you are like us, you probably often find yourself too busy when the luncheon gong sounds to manage a proper meal. You wind up ordering in a sandwich to eat at your desk. Even doctors in Glasgow, Scotland, used to avail themselves of this expedient. No more, apparently. You remember Glasgow: that’s where Kafeel Ahmed, part of a terrorist cell dominated by foreign-born Muslim medical personnel, rammed a Jeep Cherokee filled with explosives into the airport’s main terminal in June. In response to this, ah, incident, Britain raised the terrorist threat level to “critical.” What, you might ask, does that entail? Here’s one thing: according to some press reports, local hospitals ordered staff not to eat at their desks during Ramadan lest they offend the sensibilities of their Muslim colleagues and patients. Food trolleys, too, were to be rerouted out of sensitivity.

According to a hospital press release, these “suggestions—not orders— … have been greatly exaggerated in the media.” Perhaps. But a suggestion broadcast to “senior managers” can seem an awful lot like, well, a very strong suggestion, indistinguishable in practice from what the hospital refers to as “a policy directive,” i.e., an order. People will, in any event, take the hint. Meanwhile, the BBC has dropped plans to include an episode about a terror attack by Muslim extremists in its hospital drama show Casualty.

This seems to be standard operating procedure. After the subway bombings in London in July 2005, the BBC suddenly announced that it was scrapping plans for a dramatization of John Buchan’s novel Greenmantle. Why? Well, the book, whose plot revolves around Germany’s effort to enflame Muslim extremists in the First World War, contained “unsuitable and insensitive material.” Very considerate of the BBC, of course, but where were those scruples when they aired Jerry Springer: The Opera? That scurrilous, anti-Christian expostulation occasioned widespread protest among Christians, but in that case, as the London Telegraph tartly noted, “the BBC said that it would not be dictated to. Faced with potential Muslim anger, its courage is less visible.”

Do we discern a pattern here? Last month, Cambridge University Press announced that it would pulp all unsold copies of its 2006 book Alms for Jihad: Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World by Robert O. Collins, a professor emeritus of history at the University of California, and J. Millard Burr, a retired employee of the State Department. Why? Becuase Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi banker, filed a libel claim to quash the book. According to a story in The Chronicle for Higher Education, Cambridge instantly capitulated, paid “substantial damages” to Mr. Mahfouz, and even went so far as to contact university libraries worldwide to ask them to remove the book from their shelves.

Have we got this right? Muslim medical personnel conspire to construct and detonate car bombs. Result: local hospitals “suggest” greater sensitivity to Muslim eating habits and the BBC cancels a television program depicting more or less what just happened in the street because it might anger the wrong people. Meanwhile writers from France, Britain, and the United States have their work suppressed by a Saudi businessman who doesn’t like unpleasant things said about Muslim charities. Where does it end?

This article originally appeared in
The New Criterion, Volume 26, September 2007, on page 3
Copyright © 2007 The New Criterion | Back to top |


The dynamics at work here reflect two different cultures operating at such vastly disparate levels, that what one culture thinks it is doing actually registers as the opposite on the other’s perceptual screens. The British think they are being magnanimous by trying not to offend Muslims’ notoriously delicate sensibilities. Muslims who favor Western tolerance may well be impressed with such concerns — like the Muslim students who was amazed that their university put in footbaths for students preparing to pray. But the people who are the most problematic, the Jihadis and their sympathizers, see these concessions as signs of weakness of will. For them, the willingness of the Western media not to inform their public about the dangers of Jihad is an Allah-send — the perfect cover for their activities, while the extensive efforts not to offend Muslims by, say, eating on Ramadan, is just another sign of how Muslims are extending Sharia on unbelievers. In other words, they view this kind of behavior as evidence that the West has already begun — willingly — to adopt their designated role as Dhimmi.

In a sense, this might work if those “moderates” who appreciate our concern for their sensibilities were then to turn around and contest publicly their fellow Muslims’ reading of the West’s concesssions — magnanimity vs. weakness. But they don’t. In the Muslim world, at least so far, the dominant reading is that of the zero-sum honor-shame approach: Western concessions represent a lack of will to resist Islamification and an invitation to further aggression. If failed attempts to blow up British civilians — including targeting women — lead to these kinds of concessions, then not only do they not lose ground — heightened suspicions and crackdown — but they gain ground — concessions and self-censorship that covers their behinds.

And at a fundamental level, the Jihadis are right in their assessment. As often in the case of honor-shame dynamics, people can’t publicly address what motivates them because to admit it would be shameful, so they fill their discourse with rationalizations. When Western intellectuals respond to the violent reactions of Muslims to perceived insults — like Danoongate or the Pope’s remarks — by attacking the cartoonists or the Pope for “provoking” the violence, they essentially side the with aggressors and show not magnanimity but cowardice.

The clincher in deciding which motivation drives this behavior comes from the behavior of groups like the BBC and the British Editorial Cartoonists Society when it comes to the sensibilities of others — their lack of any compumction in running pieces that deeply offend Christians and Jews puts the lie to their compassionate concerns. Quite the contrary, as the BBC’s response to complaints about material offensive to Christians — we will not be dictated to — indicates, they are proud of their independence.

The contrast here is between an independent media which defies the powers that be, no matter whose feelings are hurt — the basic nature of modern free media in a civil society — and a subservient media which self-censors in order to avoid offending people who will retaliate for being offended — the basic nature of a pre-modern, fettered media. What the British media — really the Western media — display is a particularly dysfunctional combination: defiant to their own modern culture, submissive to Muslim honor-shame culture.

Attack your side, protect your enemy: that’s a recipe for self-destruction.

How long before their public — viewers and readers — start to hold their own media responsible? The French case of Karsenty’s appeal could be a great place to begin: nothing better illustrates the dhimmi nature of the Western media than their fear of challenging the Arab world in this affair. As a fellow at ABC said to me after I showed him — and convinced him of — the staging: “I’m not sure how much appetite there is for this kind of thing here.”

Intellectual Probity vs. Cynicism: Where’s the Indignation?

The following article by Brett Kline covers the renewed al Durah affair. The piece at least brings in new voices, in particular those who wish, mightily, to dismiss the whole affair. In particular, he has a fascinating and disturbing quote from Clément Weill Raynal that epitomizes a characteristic and troubling aspect of French intellectual life — intellectual probity vs. cynicism — which in turn raises a fundamental issue in the constitution and survival of a civil society.

Al-Dura controversy lives on

Brett Kline

Published: 09/17/2007
PARIS (JTA) — Ever since Mohammed al-Dura was shot and killed at Gaza’s Netzarim Junction on Sept. 30, 2000, some have claimed the boy’s death was staged for prime-time television.

One of them, the director of a small French media watchdog group called Media Ratings, is going to court Wednesday to defend his version of the controversial story.

Philippe Karsenty will be appealing a 2006 decision that he slandered state-run France 2 television, whose camerman caught the 12-year-old’s death on tape during the fateful exchange of gunfire between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

Karsenty was slapped with two $1,380 fines — one to be paid to France 2 and one to the station’s reporter — and ordered to pay another $4,000 in court costs when he wrote that the shooting was a hoax, saying it constituted a “masquerade that dishonors France and its public television.”

He says the original trial was a travesty. Some partisan Jewish groups like the Zionist Organization of America and Camera-The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America have lined up behind him, but French Jewish groups have withheld their support.

Note that this is phrased in the terminology of what the French would call “communautarisme” — the conflict between “partisan” Jewish groups, and, generally, the French Jewish community, which has “withheld its support.” It’s important to realize that as much as Americans on the right and the left dismiss each other’s arguments as dishonestly partisan, the situation in France/Europe — especially in what concerns Israel — is far worse. Gentiles who defend Israel or discuss the serious rise of antisemitism in Europe, readily find their interlocutors responding, “Oh, I didn’t know you were Jewish.” Much of this debate has been handled at this level, rather than the substantive one.

That would not be so bad, in and of itself, if it were not that the accusations of bad-faith communautarisme are directed overwhelmingly and vehemently against Israel. Where the French are systematically méfiant (suspicious) of anything a Jew says in support of Israel, they are terminally credulous of anything a Palestinian says in support of his cause. As a result, the avowedly militant and devastatingly effective partisanship of Talal abu Rahmah’s “journalism” — amply on display in his as-yet unseen rushes — cannot be called into question. To do so, according to opponents of such a thesis, would be to get involved in a conspiracy theory.

YNET weighs in

Ynet reporter Yaakov Lappin has a piece on the Al Durah Affair’s latest turn. Comments and corrections added.

Al-Dura footage to air

French judge orders television network to screen withheld footage of killing of young Palestinian boy in Gaza in 2000

Yaakov Lappin
Published: 09.20.07, 18:18 / Israel News

A French judge has ordered the France 2 television network to screen in court previously withheld footage of the shooting of Muhammad al-Dura, the Palestinian boy shot dead in his father’s arms in Netzarim in 2000 during a battle between Palestinian gunmen and IDF soldiers.

The army was blamed around the world for the boy’s fatal shooting although an IDF investigation in January 2001 into the incident failed to find conclusive evidence as to whether it was an IDF or Palestinian bullet that killed the child.

The screening has been tentatively set for November 14, Ynetnews has learned, though it is not yet clear whether members of the public will be allowed to view the film.

Wednesday’s landmark ruling is set to reignite the explosive debate surrounding the footage. After the images of the young boy’s death were first aired seven years ago, the video ignited widespread rage across the Muslim world, and several failed suicide bombers cited the incident as their motivation to carry out a terrorist attack.

Since then, sources in Israel and a number of independent analysts have maintained that Palestinian forces were likely responsible for the killing, and a German documentary aired in 2002 suggested that a Palestinian bullet was the cause of al-Dura’s death. Recently, the IDF submitted a formal request to have the footage made available for analysis.

Phillipe Karsenty, head of the French media watchdog Media Ratings, is behind the legal petition calling on France 2 to release the raw footage from that day.

Blow-by-blow of the Court’s Decision-Making (French)

Voici une version française des procédés à la cours d’appel hier de la part de Véronique Chemla de Guysen International News, qui a suivit tous les procès au sujet d’al Dura dès le début. Les détails sont fascinants. J’ajoute des notes en anglais.

Below is a French version of the proceedings in the Appeal Court yesterday by Veronique Chemla of Guysen International News, who has followed the al Durah trials since the beginning. Text in French, notes by me in English.

For an English account of the court proceedings, see Nidra Poller at Pajamas Media: “Dam Bursts at Al Durah Trial.”

La Cour d’appel de Paris demande à France 2 les rushes sur l’incident al-Dura
Par Véronique Chemla pour Guysen International News
Mercredi 19 septembre 2007 à 23:07

La Cour d’appel de Paris a examiné le 19 septembre 2007 l’appel formé par Philippe Karsenty, directeur de l’agence de notation des médias Media-Ratings (M-R), condamné pour diffamation dans l’affaire al-Dura qui l’oppose à France 2 et à son correspondant à Jérusalem, Charles Enderlin. Devant les incohérences du reportage de France 2 diffusé le 30 septembre 2000 et soulevées par l’appelant, la Cour a demandé aux intimés – la chaîne publique et son journaliste – de lui fournir les 27 minutes de rushes afin de savoir si cette chaîne a alors diffusé des images mises en scène et ne correspondant pas à la situation réelle au carrefour de Netzarim, dans la bande de Gaza, à l’automne 2000.

Les faits sont têtus. Les juges persévérants, et les rushes incontournables.

The facts are stubborn. The judges persevering, and the rushes unavoidable. And yet… the previous judges, in a disgraceful opinion, were able to ignore the rushes, my testimony about them, and treat the “facts” with post-modern derision. These new judges — especially Laurence Trébucq, the presiding (female) judge — are clearly different, and I have to wonder how much a) the letter from the IDF requesting the rushes, and b) the absence of Chirac and the presence of Sarkozy have made the atmosphere significantly more amenable to a serious search for the truth in this affair.

How Media Error Poisons the World: Al Durah and Terror

For those who think that George Bush is the major incitor of Jihadi violence in the West, think again. In my book, the Western media, with their addiction to the Israeli-Goliath/ Palestinian-David paradigm, do far more damage, by providing Muslims with images of Israelis killing Palestinians. In some cases, they are staged, in others, they are real tragedies but unfairly blamed on the Israelis, in others they are accidents, and yet the medias eagerness to present them as deliberate, intentional or wantonly violent acts, the media turn these false accusations into
often staged or real tragedies caused by Palestinians presented as false accusations as incidents (or false accusations) into “objective fact” and wrap it in wads of moral outrage (disproportionate response). Given what they see on Western TV, how could any self-respecting Muslim hate the Israelis?

The following article explores the role of the internet, the new means of mass communications in the 21st century, on inciting Jihadi violence. Note the reference to Muhammad al Durah. (Hat tip: NB).

Wave of Violence Hits North Africa as Terrorists Take to Surfing the Web

Marc Perelman | Wed. Sep 19, 2007

Rabat, Morocco – Last month Hicham Doukkali packed a gas canister with explosives and blew himself up next to a bus full of tourists in the imperial city of Meknes. No one was hurt besides Doukkali, who lost an arm, but the attack was particularly troubling nonetheless.

Doukkali was not a young discontent from the slums of Casablanca, like the suicide bombers who killed dozens in 2003 or those behind a series of attacks this spring. He was a civil engineer working for the tax authorities, and the day he set off to bomb the tourist bus in Meknes was his 30th birthday.

More troublesome still, Doukkali was not a hardened terrorist who had spent years training in Al Qaeda camps. His guide to Islamic extremism, from the ideology itself to the practical aspects of manufacturing an explosive device, was the Internet.

“You don’t need to go to Afghanistan or Iraq anymore,” said Abdallah Rami, a former Islamist militant who monitors radical Web sites closely. “What you now see is a spontaneous generation that is being mobilized online.”

Judge Orders France2 to Show the Rushes to the Court

Al-Dura controversy deepens
Published: 09/19/2007

A French judge ordered the release of video footage that could reopen the controversy surrounding the 2000 shooting of Mohammed al-Dura.

The appeals court judge in Paris ordered France 2 TV to show the court about 25 minutes of raw video footage shot on Sept. 30, 2000 at the Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip, when the 12-year-old Palestinian boy apparently was shot and killed in an exchange of gunfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants.

Al-Dura’s shooting death became an instant icon for Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israeli brutality, but the Israeli army, after initially apologizing for the death, concluded after an investigation that the boy could not possibly have been hit by Israeli bullets.

When Philippe Karsenty, director of the media watchdog group Media-Ratings, called France 2’s exclusive video of the incident “a hoax,” he was found guilty of slander. He appealed the decision, and on Wednesday the appeals judge ordered that the video be released. Karsenty called the court’s decision a victory. “This is only the first step in a victory,” his lawyer, Marc Levy, corrected him.
France 2, whose cameraman in Gaza, Talal Abu Rahma, shot the exclusive footage that was considered a major scoop at the time, was given until Nov. 14 to hand over the video to the court.
Several French and U.S. journalists who have seen the raw footage have indicated the shooting might have been staged by Palestinians.

A decision on Karsenty’s case is expected in February.

Guide to my posts on Al Durah

For those who want to brush up on the al Durah affair, here are links to al Durah posts here at the Augean Stables on or after 9/21/06 (continuation of the Guide to Al Durah). I will be putting up links to other items and updating the Chronology shortly.

Al Durah in the Arab/Muslim World: Reception and Consequences Part I
The raw material for Icon of Hatred.

Camera Obscura: How French TV fudged the death of Mohammed Al Durah
Linked and expanded version of the New Republic article.

Kafka in Wonderland: L’Express weighs in
L’Express’ account of the Karsenty trial. Note how Denis Jeambar, the editor, was one of the ones to see the rushes and stated shortly thereafter in a radio interview that he wanted this matter pursued. He apparently had no involvement in the selection or the education of his journalist.

Al Durah Update from Ellen Horowitz

Links to articles covering the trials.

Hizbollywood back in 2000: Al Durah Libel Makes the Rounds
Notes on a billboard put up in Hizbullah-land in Lebanon within days of the Al Durah affair emphasizing the blood libelous claim that the Israelis targeted the boy by using a picture of an Israeli shooting at the boy that came from another time and place.

Between Art and News: Ellen Horowitz on the “Higher Truth”
Profound meditation on the nature of journalism as a higher calling by Ellen Horowitz (in three parts)

Between Art and News: Duped by a Scoop
Part II.

Between Art and News, Part III: Ellen Horowitz on Enderlin as False Journalist

Part III (final).

La France… Vit-elle? Reflections on the Latest Judgment

My reflections on the Judgment against Karsenty.

Les procès Al-Durah, acte II : Portrait d’une culture de l’honneur en crise
French version of my introductory essay on the 2006 trials.

John Rosenthal on the Al Durah Trials
John Rosenthal’s text with my comments on the trials.

Third Al Durah Trial

Al Durah Affair: Interviews from Herzilya Conference
Discussion and link to Infolive’s interview with Karsenty, Seaman and Gissin on the al Durah affair that occurred after Philippe’s talk.

Signez la Petition: France2, Publiez les enregistrements secrets d’al Dura!

Sign the Petition: France2: Release the Secret Tapes!

Background on the Rushes: Interview with Jeambar and Leconte

Translation of the radio interview with Jeambar and Leconte after they saw the rushes.

Text of the Israeli Army’s Request to France2 for the Rushes

Official French version and English translation.

My Statement to the French Court: Maybe Writing will work better
Having been written out of the Judge’s evaluation of the evidence, I submit a written version to the Court of Appeal on Philippe’s behalf. Contains Enderlin’s shockingly inaccurate (dishonest?) drawing of the lines of fire.

My Statement to the French Court: Maybe Writing will work better

In the judges’ opinion on the first Karsenty trial, I did not appear, nor did the document I contributed (Enderlin’s drawing).

The appeal will have no live witnesses, but Philippe asked me for a statement which I had to provide in a handwritten copie. (I haven’t written so much by hand in over two decades.) Here is the text in English, suivi du texte définitive en français.

Statement for the Court of Appeal in Paris:

I, Richard Landes, have viewed the France2 tapes from September 30 and October 1, 2000 taken by Talal abu Rahmah and supplied to France2 Middle East correspondent, Charles Enderlin, on three different occasions, and for the first time on Friday, October 31, 2003. I had two major shocks on that day, and one several years later when the first decision in the Enderlin-Karsenty case was handed down by Court 17 Paris.

The first shock was to see the tapes themselves. Of the action scenes, almost all of them were patently staged. Young men faking injuries, others running up and roughly evacuating them in front of cameramen like Talal abu Rahmah, and putting them in one of the many ambulances, apparently available as props. It was a public secret: everyone knew the rules of the game. Some were so comical that the Israeli France2 cameraman, who was watching with Charles Enderlin and me, laughed.

The second shock came when I asked the cameraman why he laughed.

    “Because it seems so fake,” he replied.
    “Yes,” I commented, “it all seems fake.”
    Then Enderlin added, “Oh, they do that all the time. It’s a cultural style, they exaggerate.”
    “But if they do it all the time, why not in the case of Al Durah?” I asked.
    “Oh, they’re not good enough for that,” he replied.

That’s when I understood how deep the problem went. Not only did the Palestinians stage footage, something I already had suspicions about from having seen Reuters footage from the same day, but someone as prominent and professional as Charles Enderlin knew about it, and found nothing wrong with it. Enderlin’s attitude seemed to be, “sure they fake it, but I can tell the difference.” As for Talal abu Rahmah, he expressed complete confidence: “He would never lie to me, we’re friends. Our families have shared meals.”

Later in the conversation, another disturbing event happened. Mr. Enderlin made me a map of Netzarim Junction in which he placed the Israeli position on the wrong side of the road.

enderlin's drawing

This indicated one of two equally distressing possibilities. First, that he understood so little of what had happened that day that he didn’t even know the most basic elements of the layout of the scene. Second that he was lying to me (and must have assumed that I was so little informed that he could get away with it).

Text of the Israeli Army’s Request to France2 for the Rushes

When the decision came down in the Karsenty trial, one of the more galling lines of reasoning of the judges was to dismiss the arguments of Karsenty because the Israeli army itself had not shown any interest in the affair.

    The proposed theory derives from only one source – an Israeli press agency – that first raised this accusation belatedly, (almost two years after the report’s broadcast); it is based largely on extrapolations and confusion and nourished by peremptory affirmations to which no official Israeli authority – neither the army (who, after all was the most interested party in the case), nor the courts – have ever granted the slightest credit.

In response to Karsenty’s request that they weigh in on this matter, the Israeli army has now officially requested the Rushes from France2. Here is the letter, first in French (English translation below):

Charles Enderlin, France 2 10 septembre 2007
Ulpanei Habira
Rue Jaffa 204, Jérusalem

Objet: Communication de prises de vues du 30 septembre et du 1er octobre 2000

Monsieur Enderlin,

1. Suite à la demande de mon prédécesseur le lieutenant colonel Yarden Vatikai, je m’adresse à vous pour vous demander à nouveau communication des 27 minutes de prises de vue de Talal Abou Rahma du 30 septembre 2000 (selon le témoignage des trois journalistes Jeambar, Leconte et Rosenzweig qui les ont visionnéea en octobre 2004 après avoir été autorisés à le faire par vos services), ainsi que les images tournées par le même caméraman le 1er octobre 2000.

2. Mon service ayant été appelé à présenter ses observations sur le jugement prononcé à ce sujet le 19 octobre 2006, et porté en appel devant un tribunal français le 19 septembre 2007, j’ai besoin sans tarder de ce matériel.

3. Le samedi 30 septembre 2000, un reportage de France 2 diffusé dans le monde entier rendait compte de la prétendue mort de l’enfant Mohamed Al Doura au carrefour de Netsarim dans la Bande de Gaza, filmé par un cameraman local employé par France 2, Talal Abou Rahma. Le reportage de France 2 attribuait la mort de Mohamed Al Doura aux soldats israéliens postés au carrefour de Netsarim et laissait entendre qu’ils avaient pris le père et le fils comme « cibles. »

4. Une enquête diligentée peu après par le chef du commandement sud, le général Yom-Tov Samia a établi qu’un certain nombre de faits ne cadraient pas avec ce qui avait été décrit dans le reportage de France 2. Dans la conversation que j’ai eu cette semaine avec le général Samia, ce dernier a à nouveau précisé qu’à partir de l’analyse de toutes les données sur le terrain, y compris l’emplacement de la position de Tsahal, les angles de tir et le timing de l’évènement, rendait hautement improbable que les tirs auant soi-disant atteint le père et le fils aient pu être tirés par les soldats de Tsahal se trouvant dans cette position.

5. Je sais que des points de vue divergents ont été présentées devant le tribunal français ayant jugé l’affaire Enderlin, France 2 contre Karsenty (dossier 0433823049). Dans son verdict, le juge Joël Boyer a laissé entendre à plusieurs reprises que l’Etat d’Israël n’avait jamais repris à son compte les allégations de mise en scène, n’avait jamais nié que Mohamed Al Doura ait été tué par des soldats de Tsahal et ne s’était jamais employé à réfuter les allégations du reportage de France 2 à ce sujet. On pouvait également comprendre de ce verdict que l’Etat d’Israël n’avait jamais cherché à obtenir les prises de vue ayant servi à la réalisation du dit reportage.

6. Je tiens à souligner que ces allégations ne cadrent nullement avec les tentatives réitérées de Tsahal d’obtenir ces prises de vue ni d’ailleurs avec les conclusions de la commission d’enquête de Tsahal pourtant largement citées dans la presse française. Le général Samia m’a également précisé que toutes ses tentatives d’obtenir les prises de vue pour compléter l’enquête ont été vouées à l’échec. Au surplus, le général de réserve Samia, a demandé à ses collègues palestiniens (principalement le général Majdaye, commandant de la police palestinienne et le brigadier général Omar Ashour, chef de l’unité de liaison avec Israël, de joindre des représentants palestiniens à la commission d’enquête. Ces demandes, ainsi que celles concernant la communication de photographies du corps de l’enfant et son analyse médico-légale, ont été rejetées par les chefs de la police palestinienne.

7. Etant donné que nous sommes bien conscients de tentatives de mises en scène médiatisées et comme un doute s’est insinué à cet égard envers le dit reportage nous demandons les prises de vue en question afin de découvrir la vérité et de mettre un terme à cette affaire.

8. Afin de clore cette affaire je vous prie de bien vouloir me communiquer avant le 15 septembre 2007 une copie complète non montée et d’une qualité de diffusion des 27 minutes de rushes du 30 septembre 2000 ainsi que les rushes du 1er octobre 2000, filmé par Talal Abou Rahma.

9. Merci d’avoir l’obligeance de nous confirmer la réception de cette lettre en vue de coordonner avec vous aussi rapidement que possible le transfert d’une copie de tous ces rushes afin que nous puissions répondre aux questions évoquées par le jugement avant l’audience du 19 septembre 2007.

Je vous prie d’agréer l’expression de mes salutations distinguées,

Col. Shlomi Am-Shalom
Adjoint du Porte Parole de Tsahal
Israel Defense Forces


Général de réserve Yom-Tov Samia
Général Dan Harel, Adjoint au Chef d’Etat-Major de Tsahal
Patrick de Carolis, Président de France Télévisions
Philippe Karsenty, Media Ratings

English Translation (by RL)

In the matter of: Provision of the Raw Footage from the 30 September of 1 October 2000

1) Following up a request from my predecessor, Lieutenant Colonel Yarden Vatikai, I contact you to ask again for the provision of the raw footage of Talal abu Rahmah of the 30th of September 2000 of approximately 27 minutes (according to the testimony of the three journalists Jeambar, Leconte, and Rosenzweig who viewed them in October of 2004 after receiving permission from your organization), as well as the footage taken by the same cameraman the following day, the 1st of October, 2000.

2) My organization, having been requested to present its observations on the judgment pronounced on this subject on the 19th of October 2006 and appealed before a French tribunal on the 19th of September 2007, I need to see this material without delay.

3) On Saturday, September 30, 2000, a news report of France2 broadcast the world over gave an account of the alleged death of the child Muhammad al Durah at Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip, filmed by a local cameraman employed by France2, Talal abu Rahmah. The news report of France2 attributed the death of Muhammad al Durah to Israeli soldiers posted at Netzarim Junction and claimed that they had taken the father and son as “targets.”

4) An inquiry pursued shortly thereafter by the Chief of the Southern Command, General Yom-Tov Samia established that a certain number of facts did not accord with with what the France2 report presented. In a conversation with General (res.) Samia, he again made explicit that the analysis of all the data about the terrain, the placement of the IDF position, the angles of fire, the position of the father and son behind a barrel that served as shelter, the frequency of the fire, the angles of penetration of the bullets in the wall behind them, as well as the timing of the event, made it highly improbable that the fire which allegedly struck the father and son could have been shot by IDF soldiers from their position.

5) I know that varying opinions have been presented to the French tribunal judging the case of Enderlin, France2 vs. Karsenty (Dossier 0433823049). In his verdict, Judge Joël Boyer implied on several occasions that the state of Israel had never taken up the matter of the allegation of “staging”, never denied that Muhammad al Durah was killed by Israeli soldiers and that they never tried to refute the allegations of the France2 report on this matter. One could also infer from this verdict that the State of Israel had never tried to get the rushes used to make this report.

6) I want to underline that these allegations do not correspond in any way with the repeated attempts of the IDF to obtain these rushes, nor, for that matter, with the conclusions of the IDF’s commission of inquiry, despite their being widely cited in the international and French press. General Samia also noted that all efforts to obtain the rushes to complete the inquiry were in vain. Moreover, General Samia asked his Palestinian colleagues (above all, General Majdaye, commander of the Palestinian police and the brigadier General Omar Ashour, chief of Liaison with Israel), to join Palestinian representatives to the committee of inquiry. These requests, as well as those concerning the provision of photographs of the body of the child and the medico-legal analysis, were rejected by the heads of Palestinian police.

7) Given that we are aware of the tendency of staging news and that un doubt has appeared in this regard in the matter of the above-mentioned report, we ask for the rushes in question so that we can discover the truth and put an end to this affair.

8) In order to reach closure in this matter I ask you to please provide, before the 15 of September 2007, a complete copy of high quality definition, of the 27 minutes of rushes of the 30th of September 2000 as well as the rushes of the 1st of October 2000, filmed by Talal abu Rahmah.

9) Thank you for confirming the reception of this letter so that we may coordinate with you as quickly as possible the transfer of a copie of all these rushes in order that we may respond to the questions raised by the Judgment before the hearing of 19th of September 2007.
Please accept the expression of my distinguished greetings,
Colonel Shlomi Am-Shalom
Adjunct of the IDF Spokesman

For those of us who have been trying hard for years to get the Israelis to take a public stand on this, and know how powerful the resistance, this letter represents a major step.

Do not count on the civility of France2 to bring them to the point where they reveal the rushes. Despite Enderlin’s assurances to one and all (and me repeatedly), that he would release the rushes as soon as he gets an official request, expect long delays.

And in the meantime, sign the petition, so that both the judges and France2 know that “the whole world is watching.”

Background on the Rushes: Interview with Jeambar and Leconte

The petition that I’ve posted for signing concerns the “rushes” — the raw, unedited, footage — that Talal abu Rahmah took the day he claimed Israelis shot Muhammad al Durah “in cold blood.” Few people have seen them. I’ll be posting testimony from people who have seen them here over the next couple of days, to give people an idea of what they contain and how France2 officials respond to outside viewers pointing out the less than professional aspects of the work. I begin with a radio interview with a French radio station with two (non-Jewish, non-Zionist) French journalists who saw the rushes with Luc Rosenzweig and members of the top brass at the studios of France2 in Paris.

Unlike earlier viewers, who walked away saying that the rushes contained nothing significant, these men saw evidence of extensive fakes. I’ll take a small bit of credit for that, since I prepped Luc Rosenzweig on what to look for before he and the other two journalists went in. And I want to give the major part of the credit to Nahum Shahaf, who prepped me on the Reuters rushes, before I went in and saw the footage.

Below is an English translation of the radio interview with Jeambar and LeConte. I will subsequently post my own impressions as well as the article by Stefane Juffa on the same event that this interview details.

Verbatim interview RCJ 1er février 2005

Shlomo Malka (SM): With us is Denis Jeambar, head of L’Express, and Daniel Leconte, producer and television director, welcome.

Daniel Leconte (DL) and Denis Jeambar (DJ): Hello.

SM: It’s an image that is more than four years old. It went around the world and has had an important role in spreading the passions of the Intifada at the time. We had, in his time, Olivier Mazerolle with whom we debated on this for a long time. Today the affair has bounced back with an investigation done initially for your support and that did not result in a publication [by Luc Rosenzweig for L’Express]. You explain the genesis and the development of this affair in an article that was published in the Figaro last week under the title “Trap in the war of images” and this sub-title “Who killed the young Palestinian of Netzarim the 30th of September 2000?” You went from the principle that you could conduct an honest investigation outside of the realm of passions. What have you arrived at Denis Jeambar?

Denis Jeambar : First we tried doing the work of a basic journalist, that is to say look at the material that exists because we saw a couple minutes in the televised news programs, but we did not see the totality of the sequence that is to say 27 or 28 minutes that were filmed by the cameraman. So the first task of the investigation, after having gathered information that posed a certain number of questions, gathered the totality of declarations of the different actors of this story and notably Charles Enderlin and his cameraman, was to try to see the reality of the initial material in regards to what was shown. And therefore we had access to the rushes we watched them and we asked a certain number of questions because we were extremely troubled by what we saw at that moment during the projection of the rushes in the office of Arlette Chabot, director of France 2, who, it has to be said, played perfectly the role. And that provoked a certain number of reactions. This meeting particularly was leaked. We were doing a basic journalistic work that is, to go to the end of the investigation before publication. One does not publish the stages of an investigation.

An investigation you take it from point A and you try to lead it until its end there was no reason for us to explain ourselves and communicate during the investigation unless we had found things that were indubitable and definitive in the middle of the investigation but we wanted to go until the end of the investigation and in then in the middle of the investigation the La Mena agency brought out a certain amount of information concerning these meetings and that perturbed our work a lot. Nevertheless France 2 after the questions we asked had the verifications made with its correspondent and we were ready to draw conclusions. All that was explained in the press without us neither Daniel Leconte nor I expressing ourselves. And there was a debate about the implications and we preferred to take the time that things fall back down and calm themselves to become audible again and give our conclusions at the moment when we stopped investigating.

SM: Daniel Leconte

DL: Yes, I think that Denis summarized the point of view very well. Just to explain why effectively we did not wish, although we were solicited at the moment, to answer the questions of journalists: as Denis said we wanted to continue until the end of our investigation. It wasn’t finished, and we had the feeling in any case that it was impossible to make ourselves heard, to make our truths heard, on this affair, that there was the usual face-off of the past three years from positions that weren’t ours. Therefore, we wanted to wait and express ourselves at the moment when we would be heard which seems to be the case today.

DJ: We wanted to be prisoners of nobody.

SM: So you explain in your article in Le Figaro, reusing the thesis of the MENA according to which the shooting in Netzarim corresponded to a staging and that the child was not dead. But you’ve both revealed that a certain number of things are troubling, particularly when Charles Enderlin says in his commentary that Jamal and his son are the target of shooting coming from Israeli positions. That is false and everyone agrees on this today.

DJ: Everyone agrees on this, but they refute us by saying that the Israeli army has never commented on this. But the Israeli army basically never comments about anything; that’s a communications choice it has made. Regardless, before giving that detail we must also say that during about 24 minutes of rushes we see only staging; that is to say, young Palestinians using the television as a means of communication—it’s the weapon of the weak. I would say today that the images also show simulated injuries: we see them fall, but when they have the impression that nothing is happening, they get back up.

SM: That is a totally new element you have discovered.

DJ: That we have discovered, and the scene of the child and the father are completely taken out of context. From the media’s point of view—let’s say from a journalistic perspective—it was interesting to put all of this in perspective, to tell this story. It’s a side of the decor that is never shown. Me, I don’t bear judgment on the behavior of Palestinians, as I said it’s the weapon of the weak, but the truth is there only one man we see wounded in the thigh. There we see clearly that there is blood, but for the rest you see boys who watch the camera, who pretend to fall, who fall, and when nothing happens they leave running.

I don’t know which thigh injury they have in mind. If it is the one that immediately precedes the main event, then the salient feature of that incident is that there is no blood, something treated both in the MENA film (unavailable for viewing), and in Pallywood.

The remark about the “weapons of the weak,” strikes me as weak: Talal claims to be a professional journalist, not a combattant on the side of the Palestinians. The dirty “secret” of most Palestinian reporting is that, where Israel is concerned at least, they use the media as a weapon of war, hence their “news” industry Pallywood.

But more broadly, the point is worth considering. Given that Palestinian journalists remain in a pre-modern state of propaganda, which they openly admit, the real burden is on our Western media to refuse “laundering” these staged sequences as “news.”

SM: And that simulate injuries.

DJ: They simulate injuries completely. Ambulances come and go, where people who have strictly no wounds are being evacuated. It’s also an important element in the movie, which troubled us extraordinarily in the first screening. The second troubling element is the [al Durah] scene itself: we asked for verification because the father wears a t-shirt on which we see no trace of blood. This was another troubling aspect: film was shot from behind the father to show exactly the impact of the wounds in relation to the wounds we noticed a couple of hours afterwards when he was filmed in the hospital. Then there is the last point: that Charles Enderlin says ‘I cut the agony scene, it was unbearable.’

SM: He says it to Télérama, and that’s false.

Sign the Petition: France2: Release the Secret Tapes!

Please sign the petition and send it to everyone. Philippe Karsenty’s appeal trial is coming up and this petition is part of an effort to pressure France2 and the Justice system.

To Patrick de Carolis, France2 Television

France2: Release the Secret Muhammad al Durah Tapes!

People around the world who depend on the media for reliability, accuracy, and transparency in reporting, demand that France2 release the unedited video tapes (“rushes”) that its Palestinian cameraman, Talal abu Rahmah, sent them on September 30 and October 1, 2000 from Gaza.

On September 30, 2000, your Middle East correspondent Charles Enderlin, broadcast a story about Muhammad al-Durah, a 12-year old Palestinian boy. Using the footage and the testimony from his cameraman, Talal abu Rahmah, Enderlin reported that Israeli soldiers had targeted and killed the boy. That allegation of deliberate murder spread instantaneously around the world.

Extensive doubts have emerged about almost every claim of this explosive report, and they raise serious questions about both the journalistic integrity of the cameraman and the professional judgment of his employer, your correspondent Charles Enderlin.

As a result, the raw footage France2 received from Talal abu Rahmah represent key evidence in this crucial case.

But instead of releasing 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 now.

If France2 reports the news responsibly and uses reliable cameramen, you have nothing to hide. Show the tapes and let the public judge.

Whatever political or religious beliefs we hold, whatever we now think about what happened on September 30, 2000, we, the undersigned, believe that all the victims and all of their loved ones – on both sides of the terrible war for which Muhammad al-Durah’s image served as the icon – deserve that this evidence at last be shown.

We, the undersigned, respectfully, but firmly, request that France2 release all the tapes for September 30 and October 1, 2000 for public inspection immediately.


Please sign the petition and send it to everyone.