Ten years ago, shortly after producing Pallywood, I put out a twenty-minute documentary on Muhammad al Durah, in which I argued the footage that Charles Enderlin had presented to his audience as the targeting and killing of a 12 year old Palestinian boy by the IDF , was in fact an extended exercise in staging. Below is the movie, which now, I see, has over 3/4 of a million views.
I then put out a documentary on the impact of the Al Durah, Icon of Hatred.
Anyone who wishes to look further into the sad tale of news media malfeasance on a massive scale for the last 15 years. see Al Durah Affair: The Dossier at the top right of the page.
I have not given up on this issue, and am now preparing an essay on the two greatest “war news icons” of the 21st century, Al Durah and Alan Kurdi, both major victories for global Jihad.
I’m preparing a post on an interview with Tuvia Tenenbom by I24 reporter Yael Lavie that took place October 8, 2014. Even though it’s old, it illustrates a key dimension of the cogwar against Israel and how even Israeli journalists participate. Below, for further reference, is a transcript of the interview with some brief notes (h/t Sarah Chin).
I welcome any further information or thoughts on what I think is a transcript immensely revealing of current Israeli journalism’s dysfunctions.
Reporter: Welcome back, it is still Wednesday October 8, 2014, this is still the morning edition on i24, where you should be and I am still Yael Lavie last I checked, thank you for staying with us and onto our next topic. Now our next story combines 2 of the core narratives of Israel and the Jewish people, the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As research for his new book, Catch a Jew, author and German journalist Tuvia Tenenbom interviewed Attaf abu a-Rub, field researcher for Israeli human rights NGO B’tselem. Abu a-Rub has denied the Holocaust. First let’s take this, let’s take a look at this controversial bit and then meet the author himself.
[Clip showing Arab interviewees denying holocaust]
Reporter: Tuvia Tenenbom is with us in studio, first of all thank you so much for joining us.
Tenenbom: thank you for having me, morning
Reporter: Good morning good morning to you, first of all I have a question to you. You actually walk around the West Bank you know and you speak to Palestinians, but yknow the man you spoke with, the B’tselem volunteer [sic] did not know what you were really doing there right?
the implication here is that the revelation is illegitimate because Nutch-al-Rub doesn’t know that it will be reported because Tenenbom is “on the other side.”
Tenenbom: all he knows is this, I was working on this book, that came out in Israel now,
Reporter: To Catch a Jew
Tenenbom: To Catch a Jew, tfoos haeyhudi which means to catch a Jew, and I asked B’tselem at the time if they can, I said I wanted to see as they do an operation from beginning all the way to the end, as they do research, as they collect data and all that stuff. And I spoke to Sarit Michaeli who is the spokesperson of…
Tenenbom: (continuing) of Btselem and Sarit said to me she’s gonna give me the best, her top researcher and his name is Attif,
Tenenbom: I went to meet Attif, we went to Jenin, and we drove to Jordan valley, and then we met people and then he says what he says, he says a lot of things, this is one of them, you know for example if we are to
interruption here at point where more of Attif’s problematic attitudes were about to come out.
Reporter: what did you say to Sarit Michaeli and B’tselem people when you said that you want to join them from the beginning, that you were doing this what for? Did you explain what…
Sorry TT interrupts here, but she was about to accuse him of illegitimately failing to inform B’tselem that he was not sympathetic to them. Implication of such an accusation: B’tselem has a right to keep secrets from the public. Enderlin took precisely the same approach with his tapes of Talal.
Tenenbom: I explained everything, I said I am writing for the German media, I am writing for a paper called Die Zeit, I am writing and the purpose of this one is I’m writing a book for the publishing company in Germany called Suhrkamp, it’s one of the best in Germany and I’m writing about the issues here and I would like to meet and I would like to see, everybody knows B’tselem, I would like to see how it happens
Reporter: but when you set out to start writing the book the premise was actually, that the Palestinian people are anti-Semitic, that was your premise to begin with
in other words you found what you were looking for?
Tenenbom: never ever, this is one of the lies that you have all over, never ever. Actually when I came here
here’s a clash of narratives. YL is here articulating the “word” from the “left” aimed at discrediting the contents of TT’s book. TT’s response – lies – is a sign of how widespread the campaign. whether it’s lies or just misinformation, conjecture presented as facts, is another matter.
Reporter: it’s not the lies, I mean I’m asking you straightforward
protect the conjecture.
Tenenbom: I did not come here because you know I’ve seen it somewhere, I did not come here with any agenda, political, I didn’t even know where I’m going. My commission was, the basic idea was go to Israel because I did already a book a year before that yknow..
Tenenbom: I slept in Hitler’s room, says name in Hebrew, I don’t have it here,
Reporter: but that was also…
Tenenbom: it was the same thing, you go to Germany, for 6 months, talk to people and then come up with what it is, what I found out was…
Reporter: the premise of that book was also about anti-Semitism..
Tenenbom: it came out that to be antisemitism, but this was not the idea before,
Reporter: mmm hhhmm
Tenenbom: when I started the subject you have to understand, first of all the two books, were not my ideas. It’s not like I had a guide, a reason, I was chasing something I tried to find something out, no, in both cases there were German companies, publishers, who asked me to do it because they read my articles in Zeit,
Reporter: there’s something you know, the German um uh the German you know editors ask you to write the book, there’s so many things I can say about that
as an interviewer shouldn’t it be “i could ask about that”? Instead, she’s out for bear and passing up moose.
but here’s my question to you, you know you though and I’m just wondering you claim actually your claim is that the Palestinian people are, what, are anti-Semitic?
has she read the book? I think not. Framing telling: are they or aren’t they anti-semitic? a frame only someone in denial might make. Real question based on extensive evidence: how far has the officially sanctioned anti-semitism permeated the society… an answer TT is far more empirically equipped to answer than YL.
Tenenbom: this is not what I claim, this is not this is not what the book is about, the book is about what happens here. One of the things that happens here what the book is exposing is
Tenenbom: is things I did not know when I started it, what the book is exposing is there are 1000s upon 1000s and millions upon millions of euros invested by Europeans. I thought when I came here there were two people here, the Arabs and the Jews, and this is the conflict between them, during my travels here, and you have to understand, 7 days a week 14 hours a day,
Reporter: no I understand but (unintelligible)
Tenenbom: everywhere I go I see especially in the Palestinian areas you know I see European NGOs, operating NGOs, and Israeli NGOs FINANCED by Europeans, and some Americans but mostly Europeans, some of it by European governments for the most part
Reporter: I get but the NGO thought Btselem that you interviewed, Btselem had a response, I’m gonna read it out to you:
this is an interesting moment, since the statement essentially acknowledges the seriousness of the allegation and promises to investigate. Strangely YL doesn’t read the part of the statement that includes B’tselem’s firing of Abu-a-Rub for both saying it, and lying about it.
Reporter: I mean what is your claim then about Btselem, that one guy, one of their researchers, yknow which by the way a Holocaust Denier, I feel again, I can say this, I come from a family of Holocaust victims, of you know most of, I’m a German Jew, most of my family perished in the holocaust, you know that guy, really doesn’t is not gonna take away anything of my existence, I have to say and I don’t think it projects on the organization itself….
Possibly the most astonishing statement in the interview. Would her ancestors who died in the H agree with her dismissal of the significance of TT’s identifying a denier of the Holocaust.
The man is a major conduit of information about the behavior of Israelis and the suffering of Palestinians on the West Bank, and his denial of the Holocaust (ie his inability to analyze evidence) doesn’t matter? and shouldn’t reflect on B’tselem? Even B’tselem disagreed.
Tenenbom: no no no this is where you are wrong, I don’t care what Attaf thinks, most Palestinians think there was no Holocaust, I don’t care what Attaf thinks, Attaf is entitled, entitled to his opinion, and I don’t care what Attaf thinks…
Reporter: and many Israelis don’t think there was ever a Palestine or there should be a Palestine…
?!!! comparing denying there ever was a [presumably Arab] Palestine – there never was – or there should be a Palestine – political position – to Holocaust denial. Every side has their “narrative”, same-same, he-said-she-said. YL’s comment reveals a massive disorder in the ability to handle empirical information.
Tenenbom: but..let’s not mix the issues here, I don’t care what Attaf thinks, he’s entitled to his opinion, he’s a nice guy, what I care about, is a (Hebrew) he’s a researcher for Btselem, he’s the guy who’s supposed to come out
Reporter: a researcher for B’tselem is someone who walks around, who walks around with a camera (Tenenbom trying to speak)
Tenenbom: all what B’tselem is what is B’tselem, they have 11 researchers, what is the big issue with B’tselem, they have 11 researchers, all of them Palestinians, ok, all the names you have around it, its nothing to do
in other words, just as happened at Netzarim junction on Sept. 30, 2000, no westerners, israelis are around to cover what goes on in B’tselem’s “information” (really “narrative” acquisition.
Reporter: because that is at the core what btselem does,…
Tenenbom: what I think now if you have a researcher who thinks that there was no holocaust, this is what his own research came up with, you know, how can you rely on other research that he says, when the first time that the clip came out, on channel 2 of Israel, btselem claimed that channel 2 added to the video, they claim that I am lying, that Btselem is lying, when the first time
interruption regularly when TT starts hitting hard.
Reporter: again I have to read I have to read the response they claim (Tenenbom trying to talk) that the btselem employee did in fact make the statement of his own volition
he lied. got caught when more tape made available.
Tenenbom: just a second, let me get there, when the Lech, the Facebook, by a woman named Milach, put the whole, video that you see here, the first response of Btselem was this proves…
Reporter: but you know what we are doing right now, we are doing the same thing that yknow that maybe I think people that have an axe to grind (Tenenbom goes to speak, points finger in his face) let me finish, you know are doing, let’s say you know he’s a holocaust denier this this and that, what does it help, seriously, what does it help, you know, in the agenda of trying to progress a peace process because this is now a battle between you and an NGO, I don’t think he necessarily represents all of the Palestinian people
complete loss of any pretension to be a journalist. and here we see the real framework in which TT’s evidence is ground to dust: what (do i, and my friends) think leads to peace, and what (do i etc) thinks will impede peace. B’tselem, against settlements for peace. You battle B’tselem. Your evidence means nothing in the bigger picture, it doesn’t “represent all of the Palestinian people.”
Tenenbom: this is not a battle between me and an NGO, these are the facts, they know, they denied it, they denied and denied and denied, and after Haaretz said this is what he said, you know they came out, B’tselem finally said
Reporter: but what does it mean, what do you think it means?
Tenenbom: what it means is that they employ people who hate the Jews, who thinks of the Jews…
Reporter: you know there are Israelis who hate Arabs as well
another interruption just as he gets to the point YL has been trying to undermine.
Tenenbom: no of course but you know what, if they had an attack on Iran, and a researcher, a researcher who said that all the Arabs are bad people, or something like that there is no Palestine, never was, B’tselem would have fired that guy or that lady in a second
Reporter: no but the thing is…
Tenenbom: it shows you the mindset of Btselem, you have a mindset and this is what I find, not just B’tselem, I find Shalom Achshav, peace now, I find it in many other left-wing organizations,
Reporter: (trying to interrupt) but that’s because they oppose you opinions,
in other words, whatever you say about the left is just because they don’t share your opinion. hermeneutic seal.
Tenenbom: they are so much with self-haters
Reporter: but to call people whose opinions differ from you that they are self-hating Jews is somewhat doing the same thing as denying their opinion or denying any…
master of narrative relativism. anything but consider the problem TT’s pointing to, which is the zealous masochism of some Israelis leads them to poison the world they think they’re helping.
Tenenbom: they are, everybody is entitled to their opinions, I’m not saying they are not entitled to their opinion, they are entitled to their opinions
Reporter: but they are self-hating Jews
Tenenbom: they are self-hating Jews, if they have the facts, look if you employ these people, and you call them researcher you have a problem with this, and again I have no problem with Attaf, I have no problem with Tamar who goes around paid by the EU, paid by the EU, goes around to….
Reporter: I’m going to stop you right there only because we have a completely different segment coming up. And again I’m glad you joined me because I respect your opinion
Tenenbom: thank you very much and I respect yours
Reporter: even though I might be a self-hating Jew
The following is the text of a talk I gave at ISGAP last week.
Imagine all the people…
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one… (John Lennon, 1971)
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Something to kill and die for
And one religion too
Imagine all the people
Living under our peace…
You may say we’re dreamers
But we’re not the only ones… (Jihadi Joe, 2000)
Welcome to the 21st century.
The Jihadi Apocalyptic Narrative: World Conquest and the Great and Little Satan
Despite the spectacular attacks on the West, most Westerners have little familiarity with the Jihadi narrative, a narrative first revealed in Khoumeini’s Iran. It varies significantly in some ways from traditional Muslim apocalyptic thought, which focused on a Last Judgment at the end of the world. Instead, this apocalyptic scenario focuses on a this-wordly messianic era, envisioned as the global victory of Islam: when all of Dar al Harb becomes Dar al Islam. Those who join this movement fight in an apocalyptic battle in which the Jews will be slaughtered, and the rest of the harbi, would convert, accept the dhimma contract of submission (religions of the book), or become slaves (pagans), or being put to death: a “Second Global Islamic Kingdom,” only this time, really encompassing the whole world. In the battle, no mercy should be shown to those who resist Islam’s dominion. Everything to kill and die for: suicide martyrs goes straight to heaven; their victims, straight to hell.
The practice of lethal journalism participates in the larger category of passing off war propaganda as news, has a long history, and a long future. Lethal journalists take the stories that belligerents create to demonize the enemy – especially the accusation of deliberately killing innocent civilians even children – and present them as news.
In the annals of the long history of running war propaganda as news, rarely if ever, have journalists consistently over an extended period of time, passed off enemy war propaganda as news. And yet that behavior, a kind of “own-goal journalism” marks the dominant school of journalism during the period of the opening years of the 21st century. And although it eventually spread far beyond the Middle East, that lethal reporting began and took shape in covering the conflict between Israel and her neighbors.
This peculiar combination of base war propaganda persistently repeated as news by a target of that propaganda – I’d like to call DuraJournalism. But throughout this essay, when I use the more generic “lethal journalism” I make reference to this eccentric Levantine phenomenon.
Identifying and redressing this problem seems like a high value goal, especially in the cause of strengthening a free (hence accurate) news media at a critical moment in the history of those modern nations, “so conceived and so dedicated.”
The key to this journalism is the delivery as news of an implicit (preferably explicit) accusation of deliberate killing – murdering children,targeting civilians, or, in the words of the Goldstone Report, deliberately “punishing” civilians with “disproportionate” response, possibly constituting “crimes against humanity.” Lethal narratives constitute the basest form of war propaganda, especially when the stories are largely invented. It seeks to arouse hatred and a desire for revenge by convincing the target audience (recruits, observers), that the designated enemy deserves the violence you wish to visit on him.
The term “lethal journalism” designates the practice of those journalists who take a systematically credulous stance towards Arab lethal narratives about Israel, which they then pass on to us, their readers and listeners, as “news,” or at least, as perfectly believable claims about what has happened. Maintaining such a discourse necessitates playing fast and loose with evidence, ignoring and dismissing anomalous details, playing up dubious ones. It leaves a distinct Augean trail where it passes.
Since all wars have their lethal narratives, and all war-makers want to enlist journalists in spreading theirs, examples of lethal journalism can be found throughout the history of the press in war. Indeed, it’s an obvious need for democracies founded on peaceful relations, to have a press that can accurately identify false evidence, especially in the service of lethal narratives, and report on that war propaganda, rather than become an instrument of that propaganda. The fact that Western media have done so badly for over fifteen years, suggests the extent of the media’s “credibility crisis.” The most trusted news source – Fox! – 29%. Democracies cannot survive such dysfunctional relations between the news media and their public.
An alarming development occurred this last summer, at least from the point of view of people who believe in the post-Holocaust consensus about human rights and free societies in a peaceful global community, for those who believe that Nie Wieder would the madness that generated World War II return to invade European culture. This summer, throughout Western Europe and Scandinavia, gangs of crudely armed rioters ran through the streets shouting “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!…”; “Death to Jews! Slit Jews Throats!” This proliferation of sometimes deadly attacks on Jews has convinced some observers that at current rates of open hostility, Europe will have no more Jews in little more than a generation.
In 2000, when the European Union looked forward to a new period of global prominence – one book title read Why Europe will run the 21st century – if you had told the leaders of the French, or any other Western European democracy, that in the opening decades of the 21st century, increasingly unrestrained Muslim Jew-hatred would drive Jews from Western Europe, they would have mocked your alarmism. Unthinkable! Impossible! Ridiculous. Islamophobic.
How did this happen? And what does it portend?
I can give you the five minute version and you can leave if you wish:
Après des semaines passées à suivre les combats dans la bande de Gaza, les experts se posent maintenant la question : «Qui a gagné?”. Le Hamas revendique des points juste pour survivre, malgré le pilonnage massif que son leadership et ses structures ont subi, et certains experts disent qu’Israël (1), quels que soient ses gains sur le champ de bataille, a sérieusement perdu la “guerre cognitive”. Dans l’univers à l’envers de la politique du Moyen-Orient, rien ne réussit comme l’échec sur le champ de bataille et rien n’échoue comme le succès militaire.
Parmi les joueurs auxiliaires, il ya des perdants partout. La crédibilité de journalistes a été dangereusement endommagée. Le Conseil des droits de l’homme et les ONG des « droits de l’homme » ont été honteusement partisans; le secrétaire d’Etat des Etats-Unis John Kerry et le président Obama, étonnamment naïfs et maladroits; la gauche intellectuelle, honteusement d’extrême-droite (2), dans son adoption du discours antisémite. De nombreux analystes s’accordent pour dire que l’opération Bordure Protectrice (OPE) n’a produit que des perdants, et parmi eux de grands perdants (3).
Pourtant, un groupe sort gagnant de l’Opération Bordure Protectrice : les djihadistes européens. Pendant qu’Israël pilonnait un ennemi qui se cachait derrière des civils, des manifestants ont occasionné de graves débordements dans les rues, en Occident et des villes musulmanes dans le monde entier pour protester contre le “génocide des Palestiniens par Israël,” (4), ils ont même crié « Mort aux Juifs ! ” et “Juifs aux fours ! ” et utilisé sur Twitter le hashtag #Hitlerwasright. Des magasins juifs ont été saccagés, et il a été refusé des soins médicaux à des juifs (5), ils ont été agressés lors d’émeutes (6). Les commerces juifs ont été boycottés (7). En Allemagne, le cri se fit entendre : “Hamas! Hamas! Juifs au gaz! ” (8). En France, c’était “Mort aux Juifs! Égorgez les Juifs!” (9) Alors que les médias minimisent la violence et la haine, que la police et la justice résistent mollement, les Juifs européens font leurs valises (10).
The Biggest Winner in the Lose-Lose “Operation Protective Edge”
A shorter version (edited for tone and length) is up at American Interest. If you leave comments here, I recommend you also leave them there.
After weeks of combat in Gaza, pundits sort out “Who won?” The weak side (Hamas) claims points for just surviving, despite the massive hammering its leadership and its constituents endured, while the strong side (Israel), whatever its battle-field gains, lost the “cognitive war” — big time. In the topsy-turvy universe of Middle East politics, nothing succeeds like failure on the battlefield and nothing fails like military success.
Only one group emerged from OPE a grand winner: European Jihadis. During the weeks of Israel pounding Hamas while Hamas hid behind civilians, demonstrators spilled out into the streets of Western and Muslim cities the world over to protest “Israeli genocide of the Palestinians,” even as they shouted “Death to Jews!” #Hitlerwasright, “Jews to the ovens!” Shops ransacked, Jews refused medical services, attacked in riots, Jewish businesses boycotted. For Jihadis, OPE offered a whole new, and possibly permanent, level of public violence. In Germany: “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!”; in France, “Death to Jews! Slit Jews Throats!” This time, the chant has become a battle cry for bands of “youths,” armed with metal bars, running after Jews. And European Jews are packing their bags.
In the Jewish diaspora community and Israel, the alarm was palpable. “Time to go?” asked Shmuel Trigano rhetorically about France. Why? Not only because once again, people killed and sought to kill Jews in the streets of Europe, but because the news media continually played down the amplitude of the violence and hatred, and the authorities, both police and judiciary, resisted it half-heartedly. In France, as in England, anti-Semites no longer hide; unafraid of police, they roam the streets like the brown shirts of yore. Is this the “beginning of the end” of a two-millennia-long Jewish presence in Europe?
Jihadis, of course, delight in these new levels of both hatred and violence. For them, it’s a quadruple win: 1) depict Israel as the Dajjal (Antichrist) to Western audiences; 2) roam through the streets of Western cities yelling Jihadi slogans; 3) accelerate the expulsion of Jews from Europe as preparation for its conquest; and 4) keep the Europeans thinking this violence only targets Jews, and only because of Israel. For Jihadis, these past weeks confirm what they have long believed: that this is the Muslim century in which, among others, Europe joins Dar al Islam.
Charles Enderlin posted at his blog an essay on “Netanyahu’s Vision,” which reveals all the sloppy prejudices that he has internalized from an international consensus that it’s all Israel’s fault. Victor Perez at his blog, manages to draw out many of the elements the explain why Charles’ readership is so fully misinformed.
Certains s’interrogent sur les raisons de la poussée de l’antisémitisme en Europe et principalement en France. Une hostilité systématique envers les Juifs cachée sous le paravent d’un anti-sionisme développé dans les médias nationaux par la bouche et/ou les écrits des journalistes à demeure, ou envoyés, en Israël.
L’envoyé permanent de France 2 à Jérusalem, pourtant juif, israélien et, paraît-il, ayant fait son service militaire ne déroge pas à la règle de ses employeurs. Charles Enderlin en bon petit soldat de la guerre larvée qui se joue contre l’Etat du peuple juif a une idéologie à soutenir.
La logique et le bon sens ont, vraisemblablement, déserté sa réflexion !
Dans un texte intitulé « La vision de Netanyahu », publié dans son blog, il confirme que tout le mal vient des Israéliens ! Il nous affirme qu’il « sera quasi impossible d’évacuer cent mille colons installés au cœur de la Cisjordanie, les 260000 autres étant regroupés dans des blocs d’implantations. En admettant que cela se fasse, resterait le problème de Jérusalem Est (…) »
Une nouvelle exposition controversée célèbre les meurtriers de masse et élève la propagande de guerre au niveau de grand art.
Richard Landes – 30 juillet 2013
Traduction d’Isabelle Sfez
Pour consulter liens hyperliens, consultez l’article originale.
Cet été le musée national français du Jeu de Paume, en son temps célèbre pour ses accrochages de peinture impressionniste, héberge une étonnante exposition de photographies, Phantom House. Le travail d’une femme bédouine israélienne, Ahlam Shibli, rassemblant une série éclectique de photos qui dépeignent un certain nombre de groupes différents, dont les maisons ne sont pas les leurs, ou qui n’en ont pas – des gens qui “vivent sous oppression”. Il s’agit de Bédouins “trackers” (pisteurs, traqueurs) qui s’enrôlent dans l’armée israélienne, de “palestiniens” vivant en Galilée et en Jordanie, d’enfants polonais dans des orphelinats, de militants LGBT du Moyen-Orient vivant dans des pays occidentaux, de français de Corrèze pendant l’occupation nazie, et, de loin les plus élaborés des séries de clichés, les familles de “martyrs” qui “résistèrent” à “l’occupation”, debout avec les photos, les affiches et les tombes de leurs proches “disparus”.
L’exposition a suscité une controverse prévisible. Ces prétendus “martyrs”, qui ont “pris le contrôle de leur propre mort”, objets d’une ardente dévotion par leur famille, sont en fait des meurtriers de masse qui se sont tués eux-mêmes dans le but d’assassiner le plus possible d’enfants, de femmes, de civils.
Comme la plupart des récits palestiniens, ces photos ne laissent aucune place à “l’autre”, exceptée celle de l’oppresseur colonial sans visage. Pour une femme juive, mécène du musée, l’expérience fut horrible. En regardant ces photos de “martyrs”, elle a reconnu ceux qui avaient fait exploser des restaurants, des bus, des marchés qui ont été choisis comme cible justement pour la présence d’enfants dans ces lieux.
Les réactions de protestations outrées affluèrent. La réponse du musée fut d’afficher un avis soulignant que cette exposition n’était pas de la propagande, et, à propos de l’artiste, précisant qu’elle n’était “pas une militante, qu’elle ne jugeait pas”.
Evidemment, tout cela est absurde. Si ce n’est pas de la propagande (comme la fameuse pipe qui n’en est pas une), c’est une exposition qui présente avec bienveillance des photos de propagande. L’artiste émet assurément des jugements, en présentant ses cousins bédouins qui servent dans l’armée israélienne, comme pathétiquement vendus à un régime colonial (ils apparaissent étonnement confortables et bien dans leur peau sur les photos), elle émaille son exposition de victimes françaises de l’occupation nazie, commentant la façon dont ils se retournèrent après la Libération et devinrent des oppresseurs coloniaux en Indochine et en Algérie. La parfaite admiration pour la “résistance à l’occupation” des Palestiniens, calquée sur celle de la résistance aux nazis, joue sur un thème commun, grotesque, de propagande palestinienne – que les israéliens sont les nouveaux nazis et les palestiniens les nouveaux juifs.
The Tablet Magazine just published a piece of mine on France’s cognitive disorientation, most recently demonstrated by their putting an exhibit of Palestinian war propaganda (exaltation of suicide terrorists as martyr-heroes) in their first class museum, the Jeu de Paume, with a sign saying, “this is not propaganda.”
A poster of the exhibit ‘Phantom Home,’ by Palestinian photographer Ahlam Shibli, outside the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris, June 2013. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)
This Summer the French National Museum, the Jeu de Paume, once famous for its display of Impressionist paintings, is hosting an astonishing photography exhibit,Phantom House. The work of an Israeli Bedouin woman, Ahlam Shibli, it assembles an eclectic series of photographs that depict a number of different groups whose homes are really not theirs, or who do not have homes—people who “live under oppression.” These include Bedouin “Trackers” who enlist in the IDF, “Palestinians” living in the Galilee and Jordan, Polish children in orphanages, Middle Eastern LGBTs who live in Western countries, the French of Corrèze during the Nazi occupation, and, in by far the most elaborate of the exhibits, the Palestinian families of “martyrs” who “resisted” the “occupation,” standing with the pictures, posters, and graves of their “disappeared” relatives.
The exhibit has elicited predictable controversy. These alleged “martyrs” who “took control of their own deaths,” the object of loving devotion by their families, are actually mass murderers who killed themselves in order to murder as many children, women, civilians as they could. Like so much of the Palestinian narrative, these photos give no place to the “other” except as faceless colonial oppressors. For one Jewish woman, a patron of the museum, the experience was horrifying. Looking at these pictures of “martyrs,” she recognized people who had blown up restaurants and buses, which were chosen precisely because there were children there.
Outraged objections poured in. The museum’s response was to post a notice that insisted that this was not propaganda and quoted the artist insisting that she was “not a militant, not judgmental.”
Of course, all of this is nonsense. If not propaganda (like the famous pipe that is not a pipe), it is a display of lovingly presented photographs of propaganda. The artist is decidedly judgmental, presenting her fellow Bedouin who serve in the IDF as pathetic sell-outs to a colonial regime (they appear strikingly comfortable and secure with themselves in the photos), peppering her exhibit on French victims of the Nazi occupation with comments on how they turned around after liberation and became colonial oppressors in Indochina and Algeria. The unalloyed admiration for the “resistance to occupation” of the Palestinians, juxtaposed with that of the French resistance to the Nazis, plays on a common, if grotesque, theme of Palestinian propaganda—that the Israelis are the new Nazis and the Palestinians the new Jews.
Thus, cognitively disoriented by both their media and their academics to such a degree, it is altogether possible for the curators at the Jeu de Paume to put up an exhibit celebrating mass murderers—and to believe that, in so doing, they were siding with the innocent and “speaking truth” to Israeli “power.” And so they raise war propaganda that targets their own culture to the level of high art. Little wonder that, even as they celebrate Palestinian Jihadis who make martyr-heroes of mass murderers, they remain willfully blind to the fact that the “jeunes” in their own Muslim communities are doing the same to their very own child-killing Jihadi, Mohamed Merah.
I’ll be speaking in LA on the Al Durah affair, especially on its effects, the day before the French court’s decision. The title is meant both seriously and sarcastically (taken from an Al Awda subject line). Some people objected. I guess if I were to do it again, I’d call it “Save the Palestinian children”…
Please tell anyone who’s in the LA area whom you know who might be interested about the talk.
The Israeli government recently issued a report in which they not only claimed the Israel Defense Forces had not killed Muhammad al Durah, but that there is no evidence in the video footage of his death. Almost thirteen years (too) late, many, even Zionists, considered this non-news. On the contrary, the lateness of the report reflects some startling issues that everyone, even those highly critical of Israel, need to consider. In fact, the long delay in Israelis response derived in part from an overwhelming consensus among journalists that “a boy died on camera,” which Israeli officials were reluctant to contradict without seeming like conspiracy theorists.
What makes this consensus that the boy died (and that the IDF killed him) so remarkable is that the empirical evidence decisively confutes the claims of the journalist who broke the story, Charles Enderlin, and the cameraman who filmed the event, and yet their claims have dominated public perceptions to this day, even though their “story” has been extraordinarily destructive not just to Israelis, but to anyone who favors civil society. Indeed, this may be one of the longest-lasting and damaging media hoaxes that the world has witnessed in the era of modern journalism.
This talk will look at the wide range of destructive effects this “lethal narrative” has caused, the reason why a school of lethal journalism, led by French-Israeli correspondent Charles Enderlin has been able to dominate the entire field of Middle East journalism for the last thirteen years… and counting, and what can be done to change the dynamics involved.
Richard Landes is a professor of medieval history at BU. His work focuses on the role of religion in shaping and transforming the relationships between elites and commoners in various cultures, in particular the impact of “demotic religiosity” which prizes equality before the law, dignity of manual labor, and access to sacred texts and divinity for all believers.
In 2011 he published two volumes, Heave on Earth: The Variety of the Millennial Experience with a final chapter on Global Jihad, and he co-edited a volume on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion with Steven Katz: The Paranoid Apocalypse: A Hundred Year Retrospective on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, for which he wrote three chapters.
From 1996-2003, Landes directed the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University.
He is currently completing the book he set aside in order to write Heaven on Earth, that is, a study of the role of millennialism in the shaping of the first thousand years of Christian history: While God Tarried: Disappointed Millennialism from Jesus to the Peace of God, 33-1033. At the same time he is writing a more contemporary book entitled: They’re so Smart cause We’re so Stupid: A Medievalist’s Guide to the 21st Century.
Landes has written and lectured widely on millennialism, especially in the medieval period, and more recently on the role of communications technology – from the invention of writing to modern media – in shaping public awareness and discussion, and, in some cases, in establishing and maintaining civil society. His work on the apocalyptic currents that built up during the approach to 2000 has led him to focus on Global Jihad as a) an apocalyptic millennial movement of exceptional destructive potential; and b) a new religious movement whose relationship to the internet may parallel that of Protestantism to printing.
In 2005 Landes launched a media-oversight project called The Second Draft in which he proposes to look at what the news media calls their “first draft of history.” Since January 2005 he has been blogging at The Augean Stables, a name chosen to describe the current condition of the Mainstream News Media in the West. When he has completed his book on medieval history he plans to write a They’re so Smart Because We’re so Stupid: A Medievalist’s Guide to the 21st Century.
History professor at Boston University and director/co-founder of the Center for Millennial Studies, who became involved in 2003 when, after reading James Fallows’ article in The Atlantic Monthly, he went to Paris where Nidra Poller introduced him to MENA’s Gerard Huber. Landes subsequently met with Shahaf and was shown the raw footage of the event by Charles Enderlin. Convinced that the entire scene was staged, Landes has produced a series of documentaries about the event entitled, According to Palestinian Sources: Pallywood, Al Durah, and Icon of Hatred.
WHAT IS THE AL DURAH PROJECT?
THE SHOCKING DEATH OF A CHILD AT THE HANDS OF ISRAELI SOLDIERS IN 2000 TURNS OUT, ON CLOSER EXAMINATION, TO BE AN EXERCISE IN LETHAL JOURNALISM. THE AL DURAH PROJECT WAS FORMED TO EXPOSE AND RESIST THE FORCES THAT MAKE SUCH GLOBALLY DAMAGING HOAXES POSSIBLE. – See more at: The Al Durah Project
Please join us for this important event. Because the truth matters…
$15 per person – cash or check at the door
You can also register by email to [email protected]
(Please indicate Professor Richard Landes in the subject line)
In his mea culpa, Shmuel Rosner talks about how he was one of the people I described as “attacking ferociously” the investigation set up by Yom Tov Samia and run by Nachum Shahaf. Now he regrets it, and in his honesty, raises many significant issues. On the other side, there are Arabs capable of appreciating the value for civil society of acknowledging the Al Durah icon of hatred, that injected a death cult into the culture, as a way to wake up from the nightmare they are now undergoing. He reports that in his talk with Gazans, many really wish their leaders would make peace with Israel, the Jewish state, so they live decent lives.
Haaretz, apparently, is still in scorn, smear and ridicule mode, as they were the first time round.
It’s a bit ironic on the part of Israelis to spit on good news about themselves, a trait I learned painfully to identify over ten years working on Al Durah with government spokesmen: Israelis – and especially those who had to speak on her behalf to outsiders – were completely psyched out by this story. And the people psyching them out were Charles – “I cut the horrible death throes, so don’t ask for the tapes” Enderlin, and his crowd of journalists at places like Haaretz and the Guardian who set the lethal tone.
Israel and Israelis, for 13 years, willy nilly, have participated in this lethal procession that targeted her. Finally after a decade of consensus building, a government committee breaks free of this suicidal madness with a report that states the obvious, and reporters from Haaretz heap their co-citizens with scorn for doing so. In the history of suicidal cultures, early 21st-century Haaretz will hold a special place.
There’s, of course, an interesting problem here. Oudeh is an Israeli Arab, indeed a prominent member of the Hadash (Communist) party. In the framework of the alliance (marriage?) of pre-modern sadism – “you (the other as enemy) are horrible” – and post-modern masochism – “you (the other to be embraced) are right,” – it’s important to ask if his voice represents the commitment to not being partisan that we hear, for example, in Shmuel Rosner’s reflections, or the voice of a lethal narrator?
Here, it seems quite clear that Haaretz has given the microphone to someone who defends his lethal narrative with unrelenting sarcasm.
Dear committee members, as you wish, Mohammed al-Dura wasn’t killed; he’s safe and sound and hiding somewhere. But what about the 951 children that human rights group B’Tselem says were killed during the second intifada?
There hasn’t been anything like it since Jesus resurrected Lazurus at Bethany. It turns out it’s not only God who can “give life to rotten bones,” as the Koran puts it. Israeli investigative committees have taken this task upon themselves.
The only reason that Oudeh can play this card is because journalists were stupid enough to be fooled by a cheap fake in the first place and now don’t want to admit they were taken for fools. So now, given this overwhelming consensus of fools, he can pretend that calling this stupidity/malignity into question, is the equivalent of raising the dead.
One of the more interesting spectacles that has arisen since the Kuperwasser Report has been the range of reaction, which pretty much separates the lethal journalists holding on to Al Durah as a dog does a bone on the one hand (most of whom have not examined the evidence), and those who, in terms of what “intellectual” first came to mean during the Dreyfus Affair, are willing to reconsider based on the evidence.
In this case we’re dealing with a senior editor at Open Zion, so not some raving lunatic who managed to slip a piece by the editors, but someone involved in shaping the message readers get from this blog. The language and the reasoning are perfect examples of lethal journalism on the defensive.
A September 30, 2000, file combo of TV grabs from France 2 footage taken during Israeli-Palestinian clashes in Netzarim in the Gaza Strip shows Jamal al-Dura and his son Mohammed, 12, hiding behind a barrel from Israeli-Palestinian cross fire. (AFP / Getty Images)
This week, the Israeli government released a report aimed at discrediting the story of a shooting death amid riots in the Gaza Strip in 2000 (yes: 13 years ago). In the incident, 12-year-old Muhammad Al-Dura was reportedly shot and killed by Israeli forces while cowering behind his father. The incident gained prominence after the French television channel France 2 ran a report showing footage of Al-Dura’s apparent shooting. The young boy became a symbol of the Second Intifada. The new document from the Israeli government sought to undermine the original French report and the reporter who produced it, the French-Israeli journalist Charles Enderlin. The Israelis initially said its military’s gunfire caused the death [sic], but within weeks blamed Palestinian gunfire instead. By 2007, the Israeli government already declared the boy’s death at Israel’s hands a “myth.” Now, a respected press advocacy organization is coming to Enderlin’s defense in his battle with the Israel’s Ministry of International Affairs and Strategy.
Among the defenses of Enderlin’s Al Durah story comes from an organization that considers itself “Reporters without Borders,” a variant of “Doctors without Borders,” and a “Human Rights” NGO that shares much of the agenda of the other global, progressive organizations of this kind. (When Reporters without Borders first launched it’s annual report on press freedom, it gave Israel a lower rating than the West Bank, a rating that would send most Palestinians into either fits or laughter or tears (depending on whether they wanted a decent society or not). Here note the lack of substance from an organization that considers itself a voice for the profession.
The Israeli government has just published a report of its investigation into French TV station France 2’s controversial coverage of 12-year-old Palestinian Muhammad al-Durrah’s death during rioting in the Gaza Strip on 30 September 2000 and the disputed claim that he was killed by a shot fired from Israeli positions.
The report’s release came three days ahead today’s announcement by a Paris appeal court that it will finally issue its ruling on 26 June in the defamation case between France 2’s Jerusalem correspondent, Charles Enderlin, and Media Rating founder Philippe Karsenty, who suggested that the teenager’s death was staged.
The Israeli report, which is very critical of France 2’s staff, was produced by a committee consisting of representatives of various ministries, the police and the Israel Defence Forces. It was appointed by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu last September.
“While the Israeli government has the right to respond publicly to a media report it regards as damaging, the nature and substance of this report are questionable and give the impression of a smear operation,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
Not clear whether Deloire has read the report, and if so, that he did more than realize that it was strongly critical of Enderlin. But unlike real smear tactics, all the criticism is considered, documented and reasoned. So what, in Deloire’s mind distinguishes “smear” from “criticism”?
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.)
In the flood of commentary and analysis of the Al Durah controversy, I’ve tried to fisk the most important typical responses. And of course, I have a backlog of articles to fisk. But this one by Shmuel Rosner jumped to the top of the pile because of its honest reappraisal. It helps to understand some of the factors that played at the time the story broke, and answer Vic Rosenthal’s question:
Why didn’t then Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and then Prime Minister Ehud Barak demand that all the footage shot by France 2 on that day be placed at Israel’s disposal to do a proper investigation?
Before adding my commentary to Rosner’s mea culpa, I’d like to acknowledge the courage involved in this piece, and the remarkable fact that the New York Times published it. As someone laboring in the wilderness for a decade, all I can say is, this is unexpected.
Ahmed Jadallah/ReutersOn Oct. 6, 2000, Palestinian boys in the Gaza strip walked past graffiti representing Muhammad al-Dura as he was shown in a television report.
TEL AVIV — In late September 2000, at the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada, the French TV station France 2 aired some 60 seconds of footage allegedly showing the killing of a Palestinian boy in the Gaza Strip.
Muhammad al-Dura, who was 12 at the time, and his father are shown caught in an exchange of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters. The boy cowers behind his father, with what sounds like gunshots crackling in the background. Smoke then blocks our view. When it lifts the boy is flattened, listless, and his father is lying against the wall, apparently in serious physical distress. The footage soon became one of the most memorable and heart-wrenching of the bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
No one knows what happened exactly at the Netzarim Junction that day. The French broadcast claimed that gunfire from Israeli soldiers killed the boy. That version of the facts immediately became the official Palestinian account. Israel did not accept responsibility, nor did it deny being involved. And so the French-Palestinian narrative stuck.
But this Sunday, the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs released a report undermining that account. The document concludes there is “strong evidence” that Muhammad and his father “were not hit by bullets at all in the scenes filmed.” It also details many errors, omissions and open questions in the widely accepted narrative of the event.
I first heard that there might be a problem with the al-Dura story soon after the incident. I was the head of the news division at Haaretz at the time, and a young reporter approached me to say that a high-ranking official at the Israel Defense Force would be staging, in front of a crew from “60 Minutes,” a re-enactment of the shooting to prove the French and Palestinian chroniclers wrong.
I believed the initial story about al-Dura, and I was highly suspicious of the motivations of anyone attempting to disprove it.
Note a few things here. “I believed the initial story about al-Durah.” This readiness to believe the worst of the Israeli army – that they’d target a father and child and rain down bullets upon them, was pervasive, particularly among the journalists who were most proud of their self-critical attitude. As Bet Michael said to me in November of 2003 (after I had studied with Shahaf and seen the France2 raw footage with Enderlin),
BM: 100%. The israelis killed the boy.
RL: Really? Are you aware of the investigation and its findings?
BM: The investigator was a nut… some engineer with the army who argued a conspiracy theory that he kid committed suicide.
MS: (to me while BM waxed eloquent to NB)
NB) He’s being sarcastic.
RL: Were you being sarcastic?
BM: Not at all. I meant every word.
BM: Oh, that was sarcastic, but since then the IDF has killed over 200 palestinian children, you can check with B’tselem.
Here’s a close-up view of the world of aggressive lethal journalism, backed by their “researchers” who systematically compile the lethal narratives. At the time I did not realize it, but I should have after Jenin in 2002, that the lethal journalists – in the case of many, probably not even knowingly – were now dominant in the journalistic scene in Israel.
One of the more scandalous episodes of the Al Durah Affair came about after the judges saw the rushes and Karsenty won his appeal, much to the astonishment of the journalistic community who, under the aegis of Jean Daniel of Le Nouvel Observateur, put together a petition in his support. Below is a discussion of this development from an earlier post on Public Secrets (“they stage stuff all the time”) and Journalism.
In it I quote a remarkable response to Ha-aretz reporter Adi Schwartz’ question to Enderlin, “Why say ‘target of fire from the Israeli position” [when you didn’t at the time have any evidence], to which Enderlin responded, “what would they say in Gaza if I didn’t report that the Israelis killed him?” This is an astonishing quote, whose discussion I’ll delay to after the discussion of the “Nouvel Obs Petition.”
But then the “friends of Charles” did something remarkable and remarkably foolish. They put up a letter of support for their colleague that bemoaned the “campaign of hatred and vilification” that had dogged his steps for lo! these seven years… accusing him of a hoax when he told the world that the boy was killed by fire coming from the Israeli position. The court’s decision, they declared, surprised and worried them: surprised, because the court “granted the same credibility to Karsenty,” a mere civilian, as it had to Enderlin, the veteran reporter “known for the seriousness and rigor of his work, who exercises his profession in sometimes difficult conditions”; worried, because the court’s decision “gives a ‘permission to defame’ journalists, which would permit anyone, in the name of ‘good faith’ and ‘the right of free criticism,’ to strike with impunity at the ‘honor and reputation of information professionals.’” This, they concluded, coming “at a time when the freedom of action of journalists is the object of repeated attacks,” would undermine “this fundamental principle, pillar of democracy” and therefore they “renew our support and solidarity with Charles Enderlin.”
The text of this petition, signed by many, is as revealing as the Cristiano letter both in its complete indifference to the public secret that the Cristiano letter revealed about the systematic intimidation of the correspondents in the field. Perhaps that’s what the petition meant by “difficult circumstances” that their “veteran reporter” sometimes operated in. But somehow (unless one posits deliberate deceit), it could not occur to them that their friend was systematically misrepresenting the “terrain” he knows so well, that he would misreport events because “what would they say in Gaza if I didn’t report that the Israelis killed him?”
On the contrary, the petition was written and signed by people who showed no interest in the evidence, who believe that their colleague should be given superior credibility because he is their colleague. And they clearly think that freedom from criticism by their readers guarantees their freedom of speech. It would be hard to imagine a more blatant expression of a privileged corporatist mentality redolent of the ancien régime. Ben Dror Yemini compares them to the “anti-Dreyfusards, who also stubbornly clung to the first version.”
And they just reared their ugly head again, the usual lethal suspects – journalists, photographers, and “Human Rights” NGOs, who call themselves the Vultures on Facebook, in response to the Kuperwasser Commission’s threat to their axiomatic belief: Al Durah is true. On rekaB Street.
And all this operates within the Augean Stables, whose parameters are
Palestinian intimidation (part of a larger context of the willingness of the “weak” in asymmetrical warfare to resort to violence)
journalistic self-esteem/honor-shame concerns about being “looking honorable”
advocacy for the underdog to the point of underdogma as a resolution to the dilemma.
Here Enderlin reveals that in the journalist’s daily and constant struggle navigating between loyalty to his sources, and loyalty to his audience, professional scruples of the most elemental sort – heavy accusations need heavy corroborating evidence – answered to the people of Gaza and neither to Israel, nor even to his professional standards. And the ease with which both he expresses it and Adi Schwartz accepts it, illustrates just how encrusted these bad attitudes had become.
A.S.: In hindsight, is it possible that you were too hasty that evening?
C.E.: I don’t think so. Besides, the moment I saw that nobody was asking me anything officially, I started feeling more strongly that the story was true.
Daniel Leconte was quite indignant about the public secret of the staging: “You [France2] may know it [that staging happens all the time], but the public doesn’t. But then, reportedly, Jacques Attali told him to stand down and both he and Denis Jeambar used the excuse of Juffa’s leaked report of their encounter to bow out. Two more Zolas that never happened.
Why didn’t then Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and then Prime Minister Ehud Barak demand that all the footage shot by France 2 on that day be placed at Israel’s disposal to do a proper investigation?
Because back then, it was unthinkable. I had to do Pallywood before Al Durah (2005-6) because people literally couldn’t believe that “staged” was even a possibility.
Even if they did believe, Enderlin had told everyone that he had more material he didn’t publish because it was “too horrible to see” – the famous “death throes.” In one move, he explained why he edited the original footage and, by invoking the “public’s sensibilities” he was able to implicitly blackmail me. The Israelis were afraid of what was on the tapes, and afraid that if they asked for it, he’d release the rest of the world.
What shocked and outraged Esther Schapira into her second movie was seeing the rushes in Paris in 2007, and realizing that there were only 60 seconds of the Al Durah sequence. She confronted Enderlin outside the court, and he just shrugged her off. I argued with the Israelis from the moment I saw them that there was nothing to afraid of in the tapes, but by then the attitude of fear of a reprisal had become pervasive.
Miri Eisen asked me if I thought it was staged. When I said yes, she said, “end of conversation.” When I asked her if she would like a crack forensic team to examine any future footage of Israeli carnage before she had to face the cameras in case it were clearly a fake (this was after Lebanon and Kafr Qana), and she said, “no.”
As you can imagine, we didn’t have lots to say to each other.
The Israeli government finally came out with a report – thirteen years late – on the Muhammad al Durah affair. It’s thirteen years late. But not too late. It can never be too late to take on so nasty a tale, and particularly from the perspective of any journalists, this may be the biggest hoax in modern history – at once the longest and the most damaging to everyone but the war mongers.
The scandal today is not that the Palestinians faked it. We’ve seen them at work time and again, exploiting every occasion to paint the Israelis as child-killers, even when they themselves killed their children. The scandal today is, thirteen years later, the journalists themselves not only have not confronted their shocking initial failure – dupes of a cheap fake – but their continued refusal to reconsider even as they continue to fall dupe to subsequent hoaxes. On the contrary, the go on practicing the kind of “lethal journalism” that the Al Durah affair epitomizes – injecting the information circulation system with malevolent lethal narratives designed to incite hatred, vengeance and war.
How many of the journalists who have written about this report have even seen the evidence? I’m betting, although I’d be glad to be proven wrong, that the Daily Telegraph Middle East correspondent, Robert Tait hasn’t even seen the evidence that the Israeli report analyzes. If so he’d be like so many of the journalists who signed the petition protecting Charles Enderlin from criticism from – horrors – non-journalists.
In part this is the Israeli government’s fault. They should have held a press conference and forced the journalists to look at the damning evidence. But anyone who wants to examine it can consult the best (only) compendium of the evidence at The Al Durah Project. Once they’ve viewed the evidence, they can move on to the analysis.
Tait, however, prefers a different line, one taken by a number of journalists who do not want to confront the unhappy truth that the community of journalists – including many Israeli ones – has, willy nilly, carried on a devastatingly damaging fraud for over a decade, despite the overwhelming evidence that it’s not only staged, but very badly done.
On the contrary, to inform his readers what to think of this new report, he goes for Charles Enderlin’s “conspiracy theory.” And to do so, he interviews the director of one of the most far left media sites (the equivalent of FAIR or Media Matters in the USA), on whose board Charles Enderlin sits.
“I believe [italics mine] that what we saw on the France 2 news item was exactly what happened and the camera caught exactly what happened,” [Yizhar Be’er] told The Daily Telegraph. “It is mission impossible to fake such a huge event. Nobody, least of all the Palestinians, can create such a fabrication.”
Now despite Tait’s assuring his readers that Be’er and his organization “have extensively studied the case,” their site shows no evidence of such a study.
Be’er’s use of the word “believe” may give us a clue to his astonishing statement that the camera caught exactly what happened (by which presumably he means what Charles Enderlin says happened). As Jon Randall told Anne-Elisabeth Moutet:
Charles Enderlin is an excellent journalist! I don’t care if it’s the Virgin Birth affair, I would tend to believe him. Someone like Charles simply doesn’t make a story up.
Neither Randall, nor Be’er could have seen the evidence and made such professions of belief. Even if you don’t want to see it, even if you want to claim it’s not staged, it’s impossible to look at the footage Talal Abu Rahma shot and insist that it confirms Enderlin’s narrative, not the “targeted by fire from the Israeli position” nor the “the child is dead” when twenty seconds later he’s moving quite deliberately. Asked how he could proclaim the child dead two scenes earlier, Enderlin replies:
I’m very sorry, but the fact is the child died. Maybe not at the precise moment I showed. But this is the way I do a story. “The child is dead,” is a statement. What’s your problem with it?
Not looking at the evidence is bad enough. But using a conspiracy theory to excuse it just compounds the problem. Be’er’s comment illustrates exactly what’s wrong with the current media scene:
“It is mission impossible to fake such a huge event. Nobody, least of all the Palestinians, can create such a fabrication.”
Be’er (and Enderlin whom he’s channeling) assume that the Palestinians are too incompetent to fool them, and only a massive conspiracy – which they assume couldn’t happen – could have fooled them. Enderlin, confronted with the extensive staging visible in his own cameraman’s footage, responded, “Oh they do that all the time.” But dismissed the possibility they did it with Al Durah: “they’re not good enough” – a comment echoed in Be’er’s “least of all the Palestinians.”
The sad thing, the pathetic thing, is that it didn’t take much to fool them. If I were a professor of videography and a student came to me with this footage, I’d give him an F: get better focus, have the kid look wounded rather than stretched out, have him clutch his stomach rather than his eyes, give him some blood to spill, don’t break it up into short clips. It turns out it’s “mission easy” to put together a shoddy piece and, as long as it’s the kind of story for which too many Westerners and way too many journalists have an insatiable appetite – lethal narratives about Israel – they’ll bite at the poison meat no matter how rancid, no matter how ultimately self-destructive for their own profession and society that depends on them.
The conspiracy theory depends on the idea that the news media is full of sharp, skeptical professional journalists who can’t be fooled easily and it would take a massive and elaborate scheme to do so. The story, alas, is the opposite: no need for conspiracy, not even for high quality staging. Apparently the journalists, like Charles Enderlin, are so used to looking at this staged material that they no longer see it as anything but “reality.” As Enderlin put it to Esther Schapira of ARD:
This is not staging, it’s playing for the camera. When they threw stones and Molotov cocktails, it was in part for the camera. That doesn’t mean it’s not true. They wanted to be filmed throwing stones and being hit by rubber bullets. All of us — the ARD too — did reports on kids confronting the Israeli army, in order to be filmed in Ramallah, in Gaza. That’s not staging, that’s reality.
This comes from a man who’s “gone native.” Staging is reality in the Palestinian world, and apparently his too. Enderlin has the famous quote from Tom Friedman at the top of his blog: “In the Middle East, if you can’t explain something with a conspiracy theory, don’t bother.” For Charles, if your own incompetence has put you in a terribly embarrassing situation, cry conspiracy theory. And count on journalists like Jon Randall and Robert Tait, and all the people who work on blind faith, to give him support. And alas, just as the Palestinians are right that they can put anything (French: n’importe quoi) out and have the Western media snap it up, so Charles Enderlin can make the most outrageous comments (at least where professional journalism is concerned), and have his colleagues circle the wagons.
Alas for Western civilization. Democracy and a free and honest press were such a good idea.