Did anti-Semitism drive France2-TV to broadcast known, faked video to vilify Israel? Did it backfire to fuel the fires and Jihad attacking Europe?

Melanie Phillips' coverage of the "27 minutes of hitherto unseen footage of the ‘killing’ of Mohammed al Durah which the court had required France 2 to produce. For readers who are unfamiliar with this scandal, I wrote about it here, here and here.
Suffice it to say here that the iconic image of the child Mohammed al Durah, pictured crouching with his father behind a barrel next to a concrete wall in an apparently vain attempt to shelter from the gun-battle between Israel and the Palestinians that was raging around them before he was allegedly shot dead by the Israelis, served to incite terrorist violence and atrocities around the world after it was transmitted by France 2 at the beginning of the second intifada. Yet it is clear to anyone looking at this in detail that the whole thing was staged, not least from the devastating evidence here which shows the boy raising his arm and peeping through his fingers seconds after the France 2 correspondent Charles Enderlin said he had been shot dead.

After Philippe Karsenty, founder of the French online media watchdog, Media Ratings, accused France 2 of staging the al Durah ‘killing’ and called for the resignation of both Charles Enderlin and France 2’s News Director, Arlette Chabot, France 2 and Enderlin sued Karsenty for defamation, and won. In a disgraceful piece of judicial cronyism after the gratuitous intervention of the then French President Jacques Chirac, the court decided against Karsenty and in favour of France 2 and Enderlin. Karsenty appealed; the judge ordered France 2 to produce the unscreened footage of this incident; today it did so.

Well, sort of. What it actually produced was 18 minutes out of the 27 it was required to bring forward. From this footage, which according to France 2’s Palestinian cameraman was filmed during an implausible 45 minutes of continuous shooting by Israeli soldiers, there is no evidence that anyone at all was killed or injured -- including Mohammed al Durah who by the end of the frames in which he figured seemed to be still very much alive and unmarked by any wound whatsoever.

The drama of today’s hearing was enhanced by the appearance of Enderlin himself, who until today had not graced this case with his presence. As the film was shown to a packed and overheated (in every sense) courtroom, Enderlin and Karsenty offered rival interpretations of the images on the screen. If Enderlin thought he would thus demonstrate the inadequacy of Karsenty’s case, he was very much mistaken. On the contrary, parts of his commentary were so absurd that the courtroom several times burst into incredulous laughter.

Enderlin offered only a vague, rambling and unconvincing explanation of why he had only produced 18 minutes of footage rather than the 27 he claimed to have received from his cameraman in Gaza (Enderlin himself was not in Gaza when these events occurred). After the hearing Professor Richard Landes, one of the people who had already seen the contested footage, said that two scenes had been cut out which clearly showed that the violence had been staged -- including one in which a Palestinian preparing to throw a missile is suddenly picked up and carried into an ambulance despite showing no signs of injury. This scene, said Landes, was filmed by Reuters, who actually filmed the France 2 cameraman filming it. Yet there was no sign of it today.

What struck me very forcibly about the 18 minutes overall was that, although this was supposed to have been filmed during continuous firing by the Israelis for 45 minutes, much of the footage consisted merely of a violent demonstration by stone throwing youths, many of whom who appeared to be enjoying the exercise. One child was pictured riding a bicycle through the melee. There was no evidence of any of them being killed or injured. From time to time, to be sure, youths were dragged onto stretchers and into ambulances – but there was no sign of anyone actually being shot, no-one falling under fire, no sign of any blood or injuries whatever. The nearest it got to an injury was a sequence in which a young man coyly pulled his shirt open a little to provide a glimpse of a neat red circle on his stomach, which he claimed was a (rubber?) bullet wound. But since he appeared to be in no pain whatever and was grinning throughout his turn for the camera, this seemed an eminently implausible way for someone who had just been hit by gunfire to behave.

There were many very strange things about this footage which just didn’t add up. When it came to the footage of the ‘killing’ of Mohammed al Durah, the following stood out:

* This sequence was not a continuous narrative but was repeatedly broken up and spliced onto footage of other scenes from the demonstration;

* Although the France 2 cameraman had told a German film-maker, Esther Schapira, that he had filmed six minutes of the al Durah father and son under continuous Israeli fire, the footage of them lasted for less than one minute;

* There was a camera tripod next to them;

* There was no evidence of the boy actually being hit;

* At one point, people in the crowd cried out that the boy was dead, while he was sitting up large as life clinging onto his father with his mouth wide open;

* After he was said to be dead, he moved his arm (the sequence I have already reported which has been available on the web for years).

The Appeal Court is not due to give its verdict in this case until next February. As of today, such are the fresh contradictions and questions thrown up by the showing of this footage it would seem that France 2 has painted itself into a corner from which it will find it increasingly hard to escape.

But this scandal goes far beyond France 2. Soon after it transmitted the 55 seconds which showed the ‘killing’ of Mohammed al Durah, it helpfully sent various news agencies three minutes of the footage of this incident – including the frames in which the ‘dead’ child is seen moving, but which of course it had not broadcast. For reasons which invite speculation, not one of these agencies broadcast it either. Had they done so, there would have been no ‘killing’ of Mohammed al Durah and untold numbers of subsequent deaths would have been avoided.

It is therefore not surprising, but no less shocking, that with a couple of heroic exceptions the mainstream media has until very recently ignored the evidence suggesting that a monumental and deadly fraud was perpetrated here, indicators which have been around for years. As of today, the Karsenty case has been totally ignored by the mainstream French media.

It is also deeply troubling that the Israel government ignored this evidence for seven years, that it is only very recently that its press spokesman Danny Seaman said the incident was staged, and that even now certain representatives of the Israel government are playing a most ambiguous role in defending their country against this modern, blood libel.

The ‘killing’ of Mohammed al Durah was swallowed uncritically by the western media, despite the manifold unlikeliness and contradictions which were apparent from the start, because it accorded with the murderous prejudice against Israel which is the prism through which the Middle East conflict is habitually refracted. This scandal has the most profound implications not just for the media, not just for the Middle East conflict but for the western world’s relationship to reason, which seems to grow more tenuous by the day.

Prof. Landes and Philippe Karsenty spoke outside the courtroom about the video evidence presented and omitted which confirm "the al-Dura hoax."

Boston University Professor Richard Landes, who has viewed all the original footage of the alleged shooting that day, attended France2 TV News' Charles Enderlin's subpoenaed evidence footage. Coverage from Augean Stables:

"Then we viewed the rushes with a preamble and running commentary by Enderlin, with comments by Karsenty. It was something of a circus. But it did give me an insight into how Enderlin’s mind works. He explained about Sharon’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount on the 28th, and the riots that ensued on the 29th in the West Bank, and how everyone expected the rioting to spread to Gaza the next day, “because that’s how it works.”

And sure enough, when we see the tapes, we see scene after scene of people being evacuated into ambulances. We don’t see them hit, we don’t see their injuries, but we do see them taken to ambulances, and Enderlin explains: “The Israelis are firing with rubber bullets.” Now there’s no evidence that the Israelis are firing. But because Enderlin expects violence, when he sees Palestinians evacuated in ambulances, he concludes that they have been shot by Israelis.
Most of the material was inconclusive or boring, and I patiently waited for the material I’d seen. Then, at about 15 minutes on the time code, Enderlin announces that there will be a break and we will see the final scenes. That’s when I knew he had cut the scenes. Sure enough, the screen went blank, and then began the final three minutes...
Now there are at least two scenes that I remember specifically, one of which we have documented by Reuters. One scene that wasn’t there I described as follows:

At another point, a boy faked a leg injury, but instead of drawing big kids who could pick him up and rush him past the cameramen to an ambulance, he only attracted little kids. He shooed them away, looked around, and, seeing that no one was coming to evacuate him, straightened up and walked away without a limp.

Indeed this scene provoked a snort from the Israeli cameraman working for France2 who was watching the film with me and Enderlin at the time.

When I asked him why, he said, “because it looks so fake.”

“That’s my impression as well,” I responded.

Enderlin commented, “Oh, they do that all the time. It’s their cultural style. They exaggerate.”

“But if they do it all the time, why couldn’t they have staged Al Durah?” I asked.

“Oh, they’re not good enough.”

Now ultimately, this is my (B.U. Prof. Richard Landes') word (and possibly, if they remember and have the courage to come forward, those of Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte), against Enderlin.

But the second piece I remember is actually documented by Reuters (video sequence).

Past photographers, among whom we find Talal abu Rahmah, with his France2 equipment.

Talal is in close, for maximum effect. Note the fellow on the far left who’s in for the ride. He’s seen smiling in the video.

And then run back right in front of the Israeli position (where he was presumably shot) and loaded on the ambulance right in front of the Israelis.

Israeli position in the background. No one is afraid of being hit by them.

Pajamas Media Parisian blogger Nidra Poller provides eyewitness commentary to fill in the blanks of Prof. Landes' participation in viewing France2 TV News' Charles Enderlin's subpoenaed 'master' b-roll video evidence presentation at the trial:

"Reading an excerpt from the cameraman’s testimony under oath—”I filmed 27 minutes of the incident that lasted 45 minutes—” the judge asks why there are only 18 minutes on the CD. The seasoned France 2 journalist gives a garbled excuse...

So how did the 27 minutes boil down to 18? Enderlin denies that anyone ever said there were 27 minutes… and then says there was some irrelevant material that he chopped off the day after the incident.

The judge presses the point, asking Rosenzweig and Landes to estimate the duration of the footage they viewed. They both attest to more than 20 minutes… Rosenzweig remembers someone mentioning 27. Karsenty’s lawyer concludes for the record: something is missing.

The raw footage was not so raw. And it was barely al Dura. If we take the cameraman’s word for it, given under oath a few days after the incident, not something but everything is missing. This is supposed to be the raw footage of the al Dura death scene. What we get is raw footage of Palestinian youths throwing stones, firebombs, and burning tires at the Israeli outpost. And provoking no reaction, except for one teargas bomb. Real provocations alternate with those familiar fake battle scenes with instantaneous ambulance evacuations...

As Charles Enderlin switched on his anchorman’s voice and stonewalled, his legal team—Maître Amblard, who has been handling the cases for the past year, reinforced by a tall dashing Maître Pierre Olivier Sur and the scowling Guillaume Weill-Raynal— stood squarely in front of Landes and Rosenzweig, blocking their view of the screen...

Suddenly everything is confused. The timeline skips from 14’20 to 17’00. We see the beginning of the al Dura news report as it was broadcast. The avocat général fiddles with the controls, the image winds back, forward. We’re back at the interview. The commentary is confused. Is Charles Enderlin saying the fire was coming from the Palestinian positions?

Finally—it’s not clear how—we get to the al Dura footage. And all we see is what you got in the original September 30, 2000 broadcast. It’s spliced. But we recognize the details. Karsenty interrupts every few seconds to point out the anomalies. No blood. The boy is holding a red kerchief to make it look like blood. The soldiers were supposed to be firing at them for 45 minutes, the wall is intact, there are a few holes. Round holes, shot head on.

Charles Enderlin and Talal Abu Rahma have consistently claimed that the Israeli position was directly opposite the targeted man and boy. It is not true. Enderlin stands in front of the judge and says everything and the opposite about the positions. He does not reply to a single objection raised by Karsenty, raised by other analysts repeatedly over the past seven years: The father’s arm is intact, he claims he was hit nine times by high power bullets, his muscles smashed, his bones crushed. No blood on his white t-shirt. Voices in Arabic shout “the boy is dead! the boy is dead!” He is sitting next to his father, eyes wide open.

Charles Enderlin standing in a French court explains: Oh, that’s something cultural. In their culture, when they say “the boy is dead” they mean he is in danger of dying, that he is in a very dangerous situation, he might die. The judges smile.

We reach the end of the scene as it figured in news reports, the point where Charles Enderlin said, “Mohamed is dead, his father is critically wounded.” We might ask what that means in his culture…because the scene continues for another three seconds in which we see the boy who is lying on his stomach with his hands over his eyes, turn, lift his elbow, shade his eyes, look at the camera, and slowly return to his prone position.

Philippe Karsenty interrupts every few seconds, leaps up, points to the screen, asks for a slow forward, backward, forward. The boy is moving. He is alive."

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