Nearly everyone who was politically conscious when the images of 12-year-old Mohammad al-Dura�s murder at the hands of the Israelis hit the airwaves can vividly recall the incident.
That�s because those images, of the terrified child, huddled near his father in the crossfire between Palestinian gunmen and the Israeli army was captured on film by France 2�s Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahma. The footage was then picked up by the international news media which spread it like wildfire. The tragedy sparked an Intifada in the territories and terrorism worldwide.
Everyone saw this film. The child�s horrible on-camera �death� was front page news everywhere, seemingly proving Israel a heartless baby-killing, Nazi-like regime.
Only problem, though � the whole thing was a phony. And recently, a French appeals judge found that not only could the Israelis not have been responsible for firing the bullets that hit al-Dura � a fact the Israelis themselves discovered in their own investigation into the incident � it found the footage was likely staged and the child probably not even dead.
Did you hear about that? No? Wow. What a shock.
This has been a protracted affair, with Philippe Karsenty, who accused France 2 and its reporter Charles Enderlin of knowingly broadcasting doctored footage of the al-Dura incident, being sued for libel.
Karsenty appealed the original guilty verdict, and at the appeals trial, 18 of 27 minutes of the raw footage taken that day in Gaza was aired to a packed courtroom. And that�s when people witnessed for themselves the numerous examples of so-called “Pallywood” staging of that day�s events.
Karsenty won the appeal based on the evidence, caught on film, that the whole thing was fake.In a statement following his victory, Karsenty said, �The al-Dura lie is an assault on our ability to think, to criticize, to evaluate, and finally to reject information - especially the right to reject information on which we base our most cherished assumptions. One of Europe’s most cherished assumptions is that Israel is a vicious Nazi-like entity that deliberately murders Palestinian Arab children. Moreover, polls conducted in Europe have identified Israel as the greatest threat to world peace, greater than Iran and North Korea, Pakistan and Syria. The al-Dura hoax is one of the pillars on which these assumptions rely. …
In a statement following his victory, Karsenty said, �The al-Dura lie is an assault on our ability to think, to criticize, to evaluate, and finally to reject information - especially the right to reject information on which we base our most cherished assumptions. One of Europe’s most cherished assumptions is that Israel is a vicious Nazi-like entity that deliberately murders Palestinian Arab children. Moreover, polls conducted in Europe have identified Israel as the greatest threat to world peace, greater than Iran and North Korea, Pakistan and Syria. The al-Dura hoax is one of the pillars on which these assumptions rely. …Now it is time for France 2 to acknowledge that it created and is continuing to perpetuate the worst anti-Semitic libel of our era.�
The possible, long-term silver lining here, is that this judgment may eventually serve to clean up the way news is gathered and disseminated in the world�s hot spots. For years, certain totalitarian countries have heavily restricted who can report from their nations and what they can or cannot say, calling the accuracy and balance of whatever is reported into question. Nowhere is this more profoundly obvious than in the Middle East. This reality also puts democratic nations like Israel, with a free press, at a terrible disadvantage in the propaganda arena.
Evidently the court has found that protagonists operating in non-democratic regimes such as the Palestinian areas are inherently less reliable and should be carefully scrutinized, though why this didn�t occur to anyone before now, is inexplicable to me. I have long glanced at the by-line on any story out of the Middle East and gauge my salt grain taking based on that. That someone works for the Associated Press or Reuters does not guarantee accuracy or an absence of bias.
The case also has shown how the media should be held accountable for its material and the consequences of its reporting.
The fact that France 2’s al-Dura footage has been shown in court to be unreliable and possibly fake seems to me like some fairly big news, though not the first proven instance of inflammatory anti-Israel media shenanigans uncovered. But why isn�t anyone besides the Jewish and Israeli press reporting this?
Why isn�t this revelation � that hundreds if not thousands of lives were lost because an anti-Semitic news organization intentionally released doctored footage to the world media which was too quick to run with it?
Maybe, the international press is so embarrassed by its failure to verify the accuracy of its reporting that it�s keeping quiet about its unintentional complicity in propagating a terrible libel that cost so many lives.
Or maybe, it�s more sinister than that. Maybe it wasn�t unintentional at all. Kinda has to be one of the other, doesn�t it?
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