Really didn’t want to do this. Have responded thrice in the Spring of 2008 to Dernfer’s rattling his cage about Al Durah – here, here, and here – and I probably should leave him to rattle in peace. But there’s something about his tone which I think is particularly revealing, and that readers should be aware of when they hear it. It’s the sound of a lethal journalist being denied his foundational myth.
And the irony is that, at the end of the article, he concedes major terrain in the argument, even as he maintains his tone of contempt… a little like the naked emperor who, realizing everyone knows he’s naked, continues his charade showing even more disdain for the crowd.
In the following article there is not one substantive argument, only one case where Derfner grapples (unsuccessfully) with the empirical evidence (which I’m beginning to think he hasn’t watched – or watched peremptorily). It’s all about name-calling (when it happens to them, people like Derfner like to use the word “smear,” as in the critics are “Desperately smearing Goldstone“), and circuitous arguments all drawn directly from Charles Enderlin. In some senses, the best parallel to Derfner’s prose is the Vultures, except that Derfner does it in public.
Warning in advance. This is long. I will extract the key issues for an article next week, but each of the elements of Derfner’s article deserve analysis, if only because so many people, especially journalists, share his attitude.
A look at the right-wing conspiracy-nut thinking that informed this week’s blue-ribbon report on the infamous 2000 killing of a Palestinian boy in Gaza.
In the 13 years since Muhammad al-Dura was killed in an Israeli-Palestinian shootout in Gaza while cowering behind his father, masses of right-wing Jews have eagerly embraced a conspiracy theory of the 12-year-oid boy’s killing – that it was staged, a hoax perpetrated by Palestinians to blacken Israel’s name. This theory, promoted most avidly by Boston University Prof. Richard Landes and French media analyst Philippe Karsenty, depends on a view of Palestinians being superhumanly clever and fiendish, and a view of reality that comes from the movies.
As I noted at your site: The difference between you and me is you think the journos are too sharp to be fooled by anything unless it’s a major conspiracy, whereas I, looking at the evidence, sadly come to the conclusion that the Palestinians can put out the shoddiest crap (Talal’s pathetic 60 seconds) and our journos (led by the lethal journalists who pass on anything the Palestinians cook up) will gobble it up. Given your long career as one who regularly feeds these Palestinian lethal narratives to your readers as news, it’s probably no surprise that you need to believe in the necessity of conspiracies that can’t exist, in order to keep on trucking.
The mentality here is essentially the same one that drives the 9/11 “truthers,” the anti-Obama “birthers,” those who say the Shin Bet assassinated Rabin, or those who say ultra-rightists assassinated JFK – a fevered imagination activated by political antagonism that knows no bounds. In the right-wing conspiracy theories of the al-Dura shooting, the boundless antagonism goes out to the Palestinians and their supporters.
Aside from comparing the Al Durah scam, where at most a couple of dozen people were necessary to pull it off, with schemes that took massive levels of participants (9-11, Kennedy Assassination), there’s a fascinating reversal embedded in this comment: the boundless antagonism in this conflict comes from the Palestinians, it not only drove the creation of the Al Durah story, but its systematic deployment as an icon of hatred in order to inject a death cult into Palestinian culture. Of course people like me are hostile to this kind of appalling behavior and hostile to people, like you, who, instead of condemning it roundly, constantly run interference for, and encourage it. As often in conspiracy theories, the person accusing the other of secretly evil intentions projects his own behavior and attitudes.
This week, the State of Israel officially joined the movement. Its report on the al-Dura affair adopts the conspiracy theory in full. (To be precise, it adopts the relatively “restrained” conspiracy theory – that the al-Duras were never shot. The other, wholly unrestrained conspiracy theory in circulation holds that the Palestinians killed the boy deliberately to create a martyr.)
That’s interesting. I thought the “restrained” version was: he’s not shot in the footage we see (strong implication, staged, but okay). The unrestrained is, “he’s alive and selling vegetables in Gaza today.”
I had only heard the “staged” (i.e., wasn’t shot) as the conspiracy theory. I guess it’s true that if they actually shot him (i.e., this is a snuff movie), it would also qualify as a conspiracy. Given the nature of the evidence (no blood, no ambulance evacuation scene, the boy moves quite comfortably in the last scene), it’s highly unlikely the Palestinians killed him. Indeed, the evidence, closely examined, suggests that far and away the highest probability is that it was staged.
The report was commissioned last September by Netanyahu and current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, the “investigative” committee was headed by Yossi Kuperwasser, the former director-general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and staffed by officials in the Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, IDF Spokesman’s Office and Israel Police. The panel’s conclusions were pronounced by Netanyahu to be “the truth.” This is the State of Israel talking.
The most fitting adjective I can think of for the report, and for the thinking behind it, is “creepy.” The government suggests that such a line-up (whose members aren’t even named) is somehow going to be fair or objective; this is how the State of Israel now goes after the truth. There are several prominent American and French journalists who investigated the al-Dura shooting, and who are entirely unconvinced that it was staged – but they are not mentioned in this report.
Aside from James Fallows, who does not reject the “staged,” but wants to remain cautious, what French journalists have investigated this and come up with a conclusion that it’s not staged (from comments below, he’s referring to Jeambar and Leconte who only viewed the rushes, but did not look at the forensic evidence and made no independent investigation). It’s important here to distinguish between people who rule out staged (no one I know who has looked closely at the evidence), and people who assert staged. Not asserting staged does not mean rejecting it.
The possibility that what appears to have happened in September 2000 actually happened – that Muhammad al-Dura was shot to death and his father Jamal badly wounded, that the boy’s death was confirmed in detail by doctors at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, that he was buried in Gaza, that his father was treated for severe gunshot wounds at Shifa and afterward at a Jordanian hospital – is not even considered.
Of course it was considered. No one can take on the issue without dealing with the accepted narrative (what you might call, “the truth”). It’s just that every index suggests that none of that evidence is reliable. As Elihu Stone notes in a comment at your site:
The medical report from Amman regarding the father says: “there is a gunshot wound in the right wrist, a shattered forearm bone, multiple fragment wounds in a palm, gunshot wounds in the right thigh, a fractured pelvis, an exit wound in the buttocks, a tear in the main nerve of the right thigh, tears in the main groin arteries and veins, and two gunshot wounds in the left lower leg.” However, the film reveals that there is not even a drop of blood on the wall behind the Al Durahs or on the father.
Who can read this evidence and take this “narrative” seriously? Oh, I forgot. You. Unless, of course, you haven’t read it, in which case why are you writing about it?
The report just spins this outlandish hoax narrative, with very little explanation of where all the “facts” came from, while citing only people who back up the story and never anyone who disputes it. The Kuperwasser Committee report is a product of the echo chamber in which Israel and its most zealous overseas supporters live.
I’m not going to recap the whole al-Dura controversy; here’s a long op-ed I wrote about it for The Jerusalem Post in 2008. (The only update I have is that one of the anti-hoax investigative journalists I cite, German documentary filmmaker Esther Schapira, evidently has since gone over to the conspiracy camp.)
Schapira told me she suspected staging early on, but didn’t put it in her first movie because, just saying the Israeli bullets could not have done damage claimed had put her life in danger. It was after seeing the full rushes in court in 2007, and realizing there was no more than the 60 seconds of footage of the 45 minute ordeal, no “death throes” scenes, that she snapped. I remember her confronting Enderlin outside the courtroom, furious at his lying to her.
But I want to mention a few things that aren’t mentioned in the new Israeli report that I think illustrate its dishonesty and that of the movement it grew out of, and which show why the claim that the al-Dura shooting was staged is plain garbage.
Referring to the original, exclusive news report of the shooting broadcast by France 2 television, the Kuperwasser Committee states:
Contrary to the report’s claim that the boy was killed, the committee’s review of the raw footage showed that in the final scenes, which were not broadcast by France 2, the boy is seen to be alive.
This is one of the key claims of the conspiracy theorists: that in the unedited video of the “alleged” shooting, the last you see of Muhammad al-Dura is him lifting his arm, moving his head and looking into the distance, something he obviously couldn’t do if he was dead. The problem is that this is not true: the last you see of Muhammad al-Dura in the unedited video – after he lifts his arm, moves his head and looks into the distance – is him drooping little by little into his father’s lap, which he might well have done if he was dead, and which certainly is no evidence that he was alive. This segment of the video is all over YouTube: here’s one copy.
Watch the last seconds, after the boy lifts his arm. Somehow the Kuperwasser Committee didn’t mention this.
This is perhaps the best example of how someone committed to a particular interpretation, reads contradictory evidence. Since when does someone who’s dead “drooping little by little into his father’s lap”? Maybe you meant dying. But look again. This is not the dying gasp of the child (or as Enderlin would have us read it, the “death throes”). This is a deliberate movement that takes great tension (try it out yourself). Note that when he slowly lowers his head he’s not fading, but maintaining a strong tension – his feet rise up behind him in counter-poise.
If he’s dying of a stomach wound, what’s he doing covering his eyes rather than clutching his stomach? If he’s dying of a stomach wound, what’s he doing lifting up his elbow and looking out into the distance (or the camera)?
I don’t know about you guys, but I see an American patriot. Look how he’s endangering himself to put out that flag on fire.
You are a spoof of yourself.
Another familiar “proof” of the hoax cited by the Kuperwasser Committee is that “the injuries and scars presented by Jamal [al-Dura, Muhammad’s father] as having been inflicted during the incident were actually the result of his having been assaulted in 1992 by Palestinians wielding knives and axes …” This revelation was supplied by Dr. Yehuda David, a hand surgeon at Israel’s Tel Hashomer hospital who treated Jamal for those earlier injuries in 1994. His statement to the committee says the Jordanian hospital medical reports on Jamal “support my assertion that the paralysis of Mr. Al-Durrah’s right hand was not a result of an injury allegedly suffered at the Netzarim junction several days before, as he claimed, but had been caused by the earlier injuries which I had treated in 1994.”(Underlined in the original.)
When a French appeals court in 2012 overturned David’s conviction for libel in a suit brought against him by al-Dura, Netanyahu said he had “proved Israel’s righteousness to the world,” and assured him the state would foot his legal expenses. (The appeals court did not find that David’s account was accurate, only that he’d given it in “good faith”; meanwhile, a French journalist who used David’s account to denounce al-Dura, and who was included in the original libel suit, was ordered to pay al-Dura 6,000 euros.)
Shortly after David’s victory in court and blessing from Netanyahu, Dr. Rafi Walden, deputy director of Tel Hashomer Hospital and co-chairperson of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, wrote an op-ed in Haaretz about Jamal al-Dura’s injuries and David’s claims.
My sole intention is to address testimony provided by Dr. David, who has been praised by the prime minister for having acted with integrity and persistence to defend the reputation of the state of Israel. The facts are completely different. After the incident in 2000, Jamal al-Dura was treated in Gaza, and transported the next day to Amman’s King Hussein Hospital. His entire medical file has been relayed to me; it is 50 pages in length, and features pictures of the wounds and x-rays.
Dr. David claimed it was indisputable that the wounds were identical to ones treated eight years previously. The fact is that the medical documentation compiled in Amman shows completely different wounds: there is a gunshot wound in the right wrist, a shattered forearm bone, multiple fragment wounds in a palm, gunshot wounds in the right thigh, a fractured pelvis, an exit wound in the buttocks, a tear in the main nerve of the right thigh, tears in the main groin arteries and veins, and two gunshot wounds in the left lower leg.
It’s hard to get a better example of how Al Durah Journalists handle evidence. These claims are too ludicrous to have been published the first time (in Haaretz, the lethal journalist paper of record), but now Derfner repeats them. The entire refutation is based on believing the Jordanian report as if it were accurate and honest. Why this inability to read a text from an Arab source critically.
If the Jordanian report were true, Jamal Al Durah would not have survived the long wait for the ambulance and ride to Shiffa (leg artery bleeds out faster than a stomach wound). Moreover, if he had sustained such wounds, there would have been blood everywhere – on the wall, on the ground, on Jamal’s clothing. And yet… not a trace. The next day, there’s some blood where the father sat (rather red for day-old blood) and none where his son bled out on the ground from his alleged stomach wound.
From France2 raw footage, next day, morning; screen capture from Schapira’s Das Kind, der Tod und die Wahrheit.
Like Derfner, the good doctor has taken the Jordanian report as accurate and contradicted David’s claims with it. Presumably, this is because he, like Derfner, somehow can’t imagine that the Jordanian report might be false, a kind of principled dupedom that characterizes inhabitants of rekaB Street.
Did the good doctor even see the video of Jamal showing his wounds to the camera and compare them with both David’s description and of the wounds he treated and those of the Jordanian hospital? Or was he just so eager to contradict an argument that robbed the “progressives” of their inexplicable attachment to this icon of hatred that he’d say n’importe quoi?
Is this a bad joke? Is this the quality of response that Derfner feels is a solid rejoinder.
Diagnoses in this file also provide detailed documentation of the 1992 wounds, including a paralyzed nerve in the right hand which was, in fact, treated by Dr. David. Photographs, x-rays, surgery reports, expert consultation reports and the rest of the data compiled in this medical file corroborate the diagnoses. I regretfully state that the statements made by my colleague, formulated as though “there isn’t a shadow of doubt,” are not well founded.
But Walden, a very well-known figure in Israel (he’s also Shimon Peres’ son-in-law), was not consulted by the Kuperwasser Committee, which left David’s statement, like all the other “factual information” in its the report, to stand unchallenged.
Probably the most vital contributor to the al-Dura conspiracy theory has been Nahum Shahaf, a prominent Israeli physicist, engineer and developer of defense technology. In an April profile of him in the Times of Israel, he is described taking a phone call from Kuperwasser to discuss the progress of the libel suit against Karsenty. Shahaf’s reconstructions of the shooting scene at Netzarim Junction and his examination of videos from the incident are bedrock material for the movement. His so-called findings are all over the Kuperwasser report, for instance his discovery that what appears in the France 2 video to be blood on Muhammad al-Dura’s stomach is actually a “red rag” the boy is holding there so it will look like blood (!!!).
I assume those three !!! are supposed to mean, “You gotta be kidding me. Do you really think they’d do that?”
If it’s not a cloth, what explains the fact that any trace of this bullet wound, attested to in the medical “records” is gone in the next segment…
…when the boy had, according to Enderlin’s voice-over, already died in the previous scene, and, according to Talal’s eye-witness testimony, died after bleeding out from his stomach wound on the ground. Why is he holding his hands over his eyes and stretched out rather than, as in the previous segment, clutching his stomach? Is Derfner familiar with any of the evidence?
Shahaf has been interviewed in the media since the report came out; he’s the go-to guy in Israel on al-Dura hoax theory. Yet his name is not mentioned in the committee’s report; a look at the Hebrew Wikipedia, which cites some of his other “findings” with links to his blog, might explain that:
He also investigates the Rabin assassination, claiming that the photo of the “Shir Hashalom” lyric sheet stained with Rabin’s blood was is faked, and he supports the conspiracy theory of the murder…
Here is what Shahaf had to say about the 2008 Na’alin shooting affair, in which an IDF battalion commander held a blindfolded, bound Palestinian while a soldier shot him in the toe from close range, and which was filmed by a Palestinian resident with a camera provided by B’Tselem:
In October 2010, prior to the verdict in the Na’alin shooting affair, Channel 10 aired a report that featured Shahaf’s alleged evidence that the film published by B’Tselem, and which served as key evidence in the trial of the soldier who did the shooting and of the battalion commander, had important scenes edited out, and that the Palestinian was not hit at all by the rubber bullet fired by the soldier.
This is the Sherlock Holmes of the al-Dura conspiracy movement, the fountainhead of so much of the State of Israel’s “proof” that it was all staged.
Well, yes. Shahaf is problematic, as those of us who have worked with him and learned from his know all too well what a personality he is. But, just like Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory, in this one case, he’s right, so don’t take his word, look at his evidence. And that’s why the Commission used his material without involving him directly. But your dismissal of the argument is an ad hominem. We need to confront the evidence, not some shadowy figure lurking in the background.
But if we’re going to talk Sherlock here, no serious forensic analyst is going to go with Enderlin/Abu Rahma’s story. As much as you want to paint Shahaf as a buffoon, he walks circles around your handling of the evidence.
Fortunately, you do give us one insight into how you view the evidence at the conclusion of this “article” (below).
When individuals buy into this theory, it’s one thing; when official Israel buys into it too, it’s, well, creepy. These people are not stupid (neither, by any means, is Shahaf, nor many other people in the movement), but they’ve been stupefied by their radical antagonism toward the Palestinians and anybody else who goes against Israel, and so they’ve come to believe in demonstrable absurdities.
Given that I have actually coined the term “auto-stupefaction” to describe people like Derfner, who, to paraphrase him “have been stupefied by their radical credulity toward the Palestinians and antagonism to anybody who might criticize them,” I guess I can’t complain. Let people compare and contrast our handling of the evidence and decide who is making themselves stupid.
How telling that Derfner sends us not to the raw footage, but to Enderlin’s notorious broadcast. He is basically saying, “see it again as you saw it the first time, and it’s obvious.” Allow me to supply the actual footage in question and pose some questions. (If you want to compare Enderlin’s use of the raw footage in his broadcast with the original, you can do so here. Let the France2 tape run to (0:25) and begin the raw footage.
In the opening scene, a bullet hits the wall over the head of the boy who cringes. The bullet’s impact leaves a circular dust cloud.
The contrast with a shot from 30 degrees (Israeli position) is notable.
The shot comes from the direction of the Palestinian position known as the “Pita”, which is behind the cameraman, more or less directly opposite the wall. Now, with this knowledge, let’s go back to Derfner’s question would they sit still for this staging.
Many people have commented on the position of the father and the son: why is the boy behind (and therefore more exposed that the father? The answer Derfner, who relies entirely upon Abu Rahma’s sketchy testimony, is that they were taking cover under fire. But we know that they were there before the firing began, and we can even hear them speaking in calm tones to each other while the Reuters cameraman is directly behind them (i.e., even more vulnerable).
Note that while there is much gunfire, and some people seem to take cover, others are not afraid (for more examples that day, see this medly from the rushes), including the cameraman taking the footage who is entirely exposed to fire from the Israelis. Note also that in the entire sequence one sees no fire coming from, or striking the Israeli position. And finally note the tone between the father and son at the end of the clip.
I’d say – and I’ll grant you this is speculation – the reason the boy is behind the father is for iconic reasons. If anything is “creepy” in this affair it’s that Jamal at no point reaches out to grab his son and pull him out of the line of fire. On the contrary, in each distinct segment of the “death sequence” he is in a different position and in all of them, he ignores his son.
So I’d venture to say, given the look of terror on the boy’s face, that they did not know that Palestinian sharpshooters would be firing at them during this sequence.
Think about it: the France 2 cameraman who shot the footage in Gaza, Talal Abu Rahme, couldn’t have known beforehand the extraordinary effect his footage would have – yet according to the Kuperwasser Committee and Co., this was a pre-ordained plot between the cameramen and the al-Duras.
I think he couldn’t know the global impact. Not even the Palestinians imagined that the West would go mad as hatters on this material and make claims like that of Catherine Nay that “this death [sic] erases, replaces the one of the boy in the Warsaw Ghetto” (i.e., the Israelis are the new Nazis, the Palestinians the new Jews), nor that Bin Laden and other global Jihadis would use this as a recruiting device, nor that Hamas and the PA would use his image to inject a death cult of child sacrifice into Palestinian culture.
Nothing illustrates Golda’s famous epithet than Al Durah: striking a major blow at Israel was worth it, even if the major victims were Palestinian children raised to think like this:
After constant exposure to this kind of material, by 2002, the Palestinian weaponizers of this forgery had managed to brainwash a generation of children into their death cult:
But Abu Rahma could certainly hope that this would swing public opinion in the West to the side of the Palestinians, who at that point (even with help from a press addicted to the Israeli-Palestinian, David-Goliath frame) were weak in world opinion for saying no to Camp David and would be in danger of losing further support if they were considered responsible for renewing the violence. It made perfect sense to stage this, and to use their favorite patsy, Charles Enderlin, who apparently took orders from “Gaza”, as the delivery system.
In the middle of a crossfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians,
For those who have viewed the evidence closely, it looks a lot like it wasn’t a cross fire. Lots of fire, but no evidence it’s coming from the Israelis, which is why some Palestinians don’t even flinch even as they stand right in front of the Israeli position, much closer than the al Durahs (see clip above).
Abu Rahme and the al-Duras were faking it – there were no real bullets,
No real Israeli bullets, which is why, despite 12-15 wounds in all, Palestinians never managed to produce one bullet they could claim came from Israelis, including those allegedly removed in the hospital. Here’s Tala Abu Rahma explaining to Esther Schapira what happened to the bullets.
Would you buy a used car from this man? Why would you buy a blood libel?
no real fear,
Real fear that they might be going to be made Shahids by their own people for the sake of the cause…
no real blood, no real wounds, no real death.
Yes. That’s what we’re trying to tell you the evidence shows. These rhetorical questions suggest that neither you, nor your intended audience has nor will look at the evidence. Indeed, you insist on placing complete confidence in confidence men. Is that smart? Do you want us to share your auto-stupefaction? Apparently.
As if a Palestinian cameraman in Gaza on the third day of the intifada had no hope of getting footage that would inspire hatred of Israel, and so he had to make it up.
This is Charles Enderlin’s line. It was happening everywhere, this just happens to have been caught on tape.
But actually, Abu Rahma had to make it up because he needed “hard,” dramatic proof to show the untrue claim that Israelis kill children deliberately. In fact, looking at the footage from Netzarim that day (2 hours of Reuters rushes, 20 minutes of France2 rushes), it’s hard to say that anything is happening. Most of the day kids as young as 10 wander right in front of the Israeli position and throw rocks. With one exception, every ambulance evacuation is staged or unnecessary. So, yes, he had to make it up, and apparently, yes, he could count on people like Charles and you and Suzanne Goldenberg to swallow the story hook, line, and sinker.
Think about it: if Mohammed and Jamal al-Dura were never shot, that it was all a hoax, how many people would have to be covering it up all this time? Start with the al-Dura family, then the people near the scene of the shooting, at least some of the people at the funeral, plus doctors and nurses at the Gaza hospital and the Amman hospital, plus the Jordanian ambassador to Israel who brought Jamal al-Dura to Amman for treatment – and that’s just off the top of my head. Each and every one of them would have had to keep this incredible secret for 13 years. Yet with all the legions of Palestinian collaborators Israel has managed to conscript over the years despite the danger to their lives, not one Palestinian has ever been found to corroborate the al-Dura conspiracy theory.
First of all, the list you give is no big deal. As the rushes show, Pallywood is a public secret, and no one, including journalists like Enderlin and Bob Simon are about to spill the beans. Once this story hit (for that you just need the people at that corner of Netzarim – like the guys yelling “ho! ho!” to kick off the sequence, and “the “boy is dead! the boy is dead!” while he’s still not wounded – some staff at the hospital, some at the funeral, and the family (remember that Jamal was virtually a member of the household of several Israeli households and therefore subject to hostility from more radical elements back home, from whence came the injuries that Dr. David treated), and, of course, a whole lot of willing dupes.
Once the thing successfully launched, however, especially with the indispensible help of Enderlin’s premature broadcast, no one would dare stand in the way. I remember giving an early draft of Al Durah, The Birth of an Icon to a Palestinian and told him not to show anyone because it wasn’t finished yet. His response: “Don’t worry. I wouldn’t show this to anyone. This boy is a martyr. If I were caught with it, my life would be in danger.
Imagine a doctor in the hospital in Jordan who realizes this is a fake: is he going to run to the press and denounce everyone else? Or is he, along with everyone else going to admire the con and think contemptuously about how stupid we Westerners are?
As for the Israelis trying to get this information – they ran away from this story for 13 years. But this line of argument is very tenuous in the face of the overwhelming evidence, which you have yet to address.
These are just some of the inconvenient details that have to be ignored to believe that the al-Dura killing was a hoax – and official Israel, starting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, believes it.
The ironic thing, though, is that the Kuperwasser Committee’s minimal finding – that there’s no proof Israeli soldiers shot the al-Duras – is absolutely true. What’s more, the same prominent foreign journalists who were wholly unmoved by the hoax theory – American James Fallows and Frenchmen Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte, as well as Israeli communications expert Gabriel Weimann – were also thoroughly unconvinced by France 2’s claim that Israeli soldiers had fired the bullets that hit the father and son. Because of the angles and obstacles on the impromptu battlefield, they all concluded it was much more likely that the al-Duras had been shot accidentally by Palestinian gunmen in the crossfire.
That’s also the explanation I believe. On the basis of the known facts (as opposed to “facts”), that’s the most reasonable explanation, the easiest to accept – and it clears Israel of the terrible, almost certainly false accusation that its soldiers deliberately, demonically gunned down a frantic 12-year-old boy trying to hide behind his father, who was pleading vainly for the shooting to stop.
You’ve just backed yourself into an impossible corner – what we call Scenarios 3 and 4, Palestinians by accident or on purpose. Fallows backed himself in there, as did Leconte and Jeambar (who only saw the rushes, did not investigate further). Their only way to maintain that position is to withdraw. Once you admit what you just did, the only way forward leads in dark places. You’ve already rejected Palestinians on purpose as the worst version of the conspiracy theory, so you’re stuck with Scenario 3. Indeed, the only way to maintain this scenario (as in the case of Fallows, Leconte and Jeambar) is to stop examining the evidence and stop asking the hard questions.
If not the Israelis, but yes, the boy died, then what’s the explanation? Palestinians by accident? How do you accidentally shoot up a boy and a father with over a dozen wounds, when they’re not in your line of fire? How does the boy bleed to death when there are ambulances galore in the area? And how do you explain that one of the people to evacuate him testifies that he scooped his guts off the sidewalk and, in a narrative that only the Palestinians maintain, but that Suzanne Goldenberg recorded in the Guardian at the time and Harriet Sherman just reprinted without comment:
There was still some breath in [Muhammad] when we reached the ambulance, but when we opened the doors, they started shooting again,” said Bassam al-Bilbays. The ambulance driver was shot dead.
Nah. The Palestinians wouldn’t lie. But somehow, poor Talal got not a second of this spectacular event, even though he had time subsequently, after the boy and the father were gone (evacuated?), to catch another, more distant and less interesting ambulance evacuation.
And if the Palestinians accidentally killed him, then what have you to say to Enderlin about reporting “target of fire from the Israeli position?” – especially when he admitted to Adi Schwartz in Haaretz in 2007 that if he hadn’t reported that, “What would they say in Gaza?”?
So why couldn’t Netanyahu and the Kuperwasser Committee defend Israel with a simple, plausible explanation, instead of this bizarre, through-the-looking-glass bullshit?
Because they looked at the evidence, and they have courage to take unpopular positions, especially unpopular with lethal journalists.
Because as keepers of the consensus in 21st century Israel, they are naturally vulnerable to the al-Dura conspiracy theory. Finally, all you have to do to believe it is believe that Palestinians – doctors, patients, ambassadors, whoever – will tell any lie, no matter how gargantuan, to score a point against Israel,
and that they are capable of performing uncanny logistical feats to that end.
Not at all. You think they have to do amazing things to fool the likes of you and Enderlin. I think they only have to put up the cheapest and most desultory of shows and lethal journalists on rekaB Street will jump at it no matter how pathetic the evidence. And in the case of Israelis, those who swallow the poison will feel virtuous because they’re not being tribal. And as a result, for over twelve years, not only the Israeli journalists, but the Israeli government, who was afraid of being raked over the coals by them, paraded in a grotesque procession of the “icon of hatred,” holding up the invisible robes of the “martyr of the world.”
And that’s what the defenders of Israel believe – about Palestinians and the rest of the neighbors, too. Which is why they so readily drank the Kool Aid on the al-Dura affair.
The Kool Aid, Larry, is what you and the rest of the journalists have been drinking for the last thirteen years: the Palestinians don’t lie, they don’t demonize the Israelis to their people, and they don’t, any chance they get, demonize them to the “whole world”, the boy is dead (was murdered), the father badly injured, Israeli forces are brutal, and the world is right to be angry at Israel.
I am currently reading about the excellent and depressing research of David Collier into the Palestinian Solidarity Commission, England’s largest and most “prestigious” “pro-Palestinian” group with Read More »