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.

Notes my informant:

Remarques: en proférant sciemment ce mensonge sur la nature du PCHR de Gaza, qu’il connait très bien, Enderlin n’était nullement sous la pression de questionneurs hostiles, mais face à Nicolas Delesalle, un journaliste de Télérama qui a toujours défendu ses thèses et condamné ceux qui attaquaient France 2. Informé de cette déclaration, Raji Sourani, directeur du PCHR envoie un courrier comminatoire à Enderlin, exigeant qu’il fasse procéder à des rectifications dans le Télérama sur deux points: le témoignage de Talal abou Rahma du 3 octobre 2000 est parfaitement spontané et authentique, prononcé sous serment devant un avocat (en l’occurence Raji Sourani lui-même). Deuxièmement, le PCHR est bel est bien reconnu par l’ONU et siège au sein de la FIDH (Fédération internationale des organisations de défense des droits de l’homme), accréditée auprès du comité des droits de l’homme de l’ONU à Genève.

In offering knowingly this lie on the nature of the PCHR in Gaza, which he knows very well, Enderlin was under no pressure from hostile questionners, but dealing with Nicolas Delesalle, a journalist from Télérama who had always defended his claims and condemned those who attacked France2. Informed of this claim, Raji Sourani, the director of the PCHR send a threatening letter to Enderlin, demanding that he arrange to rectify this issue in Telerama on two points: First that the testimony of Talal of October 3, 2000 was completely spontaneous and authentic, pronounced under oath with a lawyer present (in fact, Sourani himself), and secondly that the PCHR is fully accredited before the UN, and exists as part of the FIDH (International Federation of Human Rights Organizations), accredited by the Committee on Human Rights of the UN at Geneva.

In response, Enderlin sent Sourani the following fax:

December 14, 2004
To the attention of Mr. Sourani
Fax N° 08 28 44 299
Mobile : 059 412 919

From Charles Enderlin
Bureau chief France 2 Jerusalem

Dear Sir,

I deeply apologize for having said that your Organization was not recognized by the United Nations. Of course, it is !!!

I made this mistake in a moment of anger being harrassed by several extremists websites who used the testimony Talal gave you to claim that the video of Mohamed Al Dura was staged, which is not course not true !

I have asked the newspaper to publish my apology.

Again, will all my apologies

Charles Enderlin

1) As far as I know, Télérama never published a correction.
2) The websites were not using the claims of Abu Rahmah to prove staging, but Talal’s dishonesty, Enderlin’s credulity and France2’s bad faith in not making Talal’s change of position known publicly. Granted all that supports the likelihood of staging, but that’s not the specific argument about this document made at the PCHR.
3) Enderlin’s “mistake” was not made in a moment of anger, but of irritation: the accusations of Talal’s dishonesty — attested to on videotape — which directly affected his own credibility had “gotten under his skin.” It is evidence of precisely the opposite of what he claims in another interview with Télérama: that he has a “elephant’s hide.
4)It was not a mistake, but a deliberate and dishonest effort to ridicule MENA’s concerns and dismiss the importance of a key document in the affair, one that dramatically undermined Enderlin’s claims in the initial broadcast.
5) The clear modus operandi here is: when in trouble, lie in public, then cover yourself in private by mollifying anyone you might have offended.

None of this speaks well for Endlerin. Indeed, it suggests that he’s spent too much time dealing with honor-shame cultures (French and Palestinian) and doesn’t even know what integrity is. And to judge from Clément Weill-Raynal’s comments and those of Brett Kline, this problem goes far beyond the confines of Charles Enderlin’s thin skin.

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

  1. Michael B says:

    “Dissembling,” a term used to describe Enderlin in a prior post, is perhaps as succinctly telling of his m.o. as any other single term. That he has roosted in the MSM, in France no less, is fitting.

  2. David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 09/26/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  3. fp says:

    The MSM are full of enderlins — it’s a prerequisite these days to be a journalist: ignorant, incompetent, lazy, gullible and arrogant.

  4. Lynne T says:


    You forgot “self-righteous”.

  5. Richard Landes says:

    and yet, as Brett Kline says, he has immense respect for Enderlin’s work. what does this mean?

  6. fp says:

    Most likely, he has cognitive dissonance and cannot bring himself to resolve it.


  7. Michael B says:

    RL, in fact that’s a very good question as it reflects not merely one individual’s statement but broader social phenomena – e.g., reflecting apathy, reflecting tergiversation despite the gravity of the Al Durah Affair (and it rightly needs to be themed, needs to be thought of, as the Al Durah Affair, only in part because there are at least some subtle points of comparison with Dreyfus), and reflecting a range of other socio-cultural phenomena, such as the monolithic self-satisfaction reflected in the status quo, in France, certainly, but globally as well.

    Very broadly and perhaps pedantically stated, it’s a matter of coming to terms with the gravity, and the full import, of this Affair Al Durah, something France and the world at large is not receptive to. Intellectually and socio-culturally it’s simply too great a task – hence, Kline may simply be daunted by the seeming monolithic quality of it all. So, to what extent this becomes a Cassandra moment in contemporary events, and to what extent the gravity and fuller import is appraised, and then acted upon as well, will be telling of our generation. Thing is, there is a very real historic quality to all this, obviously enough to readers here, but apparently less obviously to broad segments of the “global community.”

    You’ve done a superb job on this though, measured and probative w/o engaging in unnecessary hyperbole on the one hand, and w/o eschewing the hard work involved as well. It’s the latter half of that summary that, likely, the Brett Klines of the world are in fact daunted by; it’s difficult enough being willing to analyse it in an abstract and dispassionate sense since the very analysis requires one to trespass deeply held status quo sensibilities, but then the second step, actually acting upon that analysis and the gravity of the situation, reflects not only additional hard work, but requires basic personal commitments as well, commitments that may end in having one ostracized out of some social milieus, but that is one example only.

    Much of that is speculative, certainly and obviously, but those types of speculative probings are very much a part of what is needed, even while the tentative quality of such needs to be consciously kept in mind. (Btw, a guy by the name of Jacques Ellul did some good work in terms of media driven social analysis and other, related social analysis as well.)

  8. fp says:

    I think you said more or less what i said in one sentence.

  9. Eliyahu says:

    I agree with Michael that there is an Al-Durah Affair of grave social-historical import. The corruption of all sorts that has floated up to the surface here demonstrates a widespread sickness of contemporary Western civilization, more so even than the somewhat similar Jenin Massacre hoax. Now if Michael means by Cassandra momemt, a time when people take to heart the warning signs demonstrated by this Affair, then I don’t think that that moment has yet arrived for most people. And the media/politicians/NGOs, all of them self-appointed guardians of public morality, are trying their hardest to ensure that public concern and worry are channelled into other issues –issues that they can control, guide, and manipulate more easily.

  10. Michael B says:


    By “Cassandra moment” I intended a failure to take to heart – thus was opposing it to and contrasting it with the “extent the gravity and fuller import is appraised, and then acted upon as well.” (My fault, I should have used “or” rather than “and” in conjoining those two terms.) To address the more critical issue, we don’t yet know to what extent it, its full meaning and import, will be taken to heart; but it serves to both manifest the problem – along with all the problems it more widely reflects – and present opportunities as well. This is why RL’s measured but still forceful commitment is praiseworthy; there is a difference between naive and misbegotten hope and a hope that is better founded and better and more thoughtfully worked toward.


    I wrote with some abandon and repetition because I’m writing in an abductive vein, i.e. exploring both the phenomena – e.g. the genuinely profound and deeply rooted socio-cultural corruptions – reflected in this Affair Al Durah, and exploring the monolithic and nearly impenetrable quality of it all as well. I make no apologies for that and am unembarrased by any perceived lack of pithiness. Given the subject matter being addressed it requires, imo, an abductive excursus in that vein, for the sake of probing and proding. An icebreaker isn’t designed to do the work of a sleek schooner.

  11. fp says:

    i would not presume to stop you from writing however you want, it’s your business.

    i prefer everything to be as simple as possible, but not simpler. it reaches a larger audience this way.

  12. Michael B says:


  13. fp says:

    so you CAN be succinct!!!

    you should try it more often.

  14. Richard Landes says:

    fp and mb – we got serious work to do. stop needling each other. i like both your comments. but target those who deserve it. another post on c.e. coming up.

  15. fp says:

    it’s because the work is so serious that we should be careful how we express ourselves to be effective.

    we are dealing with anti-intellectual societies in both the west and certainly in islam. over-abstraction and very long dissertations are unlikely — to put it politely — to be very effective.

  16. fp says:

    incidentally, regarding kline.

    hitchens once said that we should judge people’s reputation by their work, not the other way around. kline falls into the common trap of doing the latter, which is common these days.

  17. […] Jamil still thinks it’s a murder (for which there is no evidence, especially since Talal retracted his claim that the Israelis did it in cold blood), makes it clear how much of his world view is composed of […]

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