On September 12, 2007, Philippe Karsenty of Paris will present his appeal of a judgment for defamation rendered in favor of Charles Enderlin, Jerusalem Bureau Chief for France 2, the television station responsible for airing the Mohamed Al Durah hoax which was adopted, at birth, as official informatiom in nearly every corner of the world. Karsenty, editor of Media-Ratings, www.m-r.fr, an internet service that monitors the French media, questioned Enderlin’s veracity and challenged him to explain obvious defects and inconsistencies in the Al Durah story. Initially, the Israeli government had taken responsibility for the boy’s death, but later concluded that it had reliable evidence that the case was a fraud. Daniel Seaman, Director of Israel’s Government Press Office, openly calls the alleged “murder” of Al Durah a hoax. France 2 is holding 27 minutes of raw footage of the incident, which could resolve the controversy once and for all. But it refuses to release the tapes. The trial court, finding in favor of Enderlin, disregarded the evidence Karsenty presented. Instead, the judge relied on a two-year old letter from former French President, Jacques Chirac, that did not refer to the Al Durah incident at all, but simply complimented Enderlin as a journalist. Politics aside, the evidence stands on its own. Reminiscent of the Dreyfus Affair that occurred more than 100 years earlier, few have stepped forward to assist Karsenty in rebutting this lie—a lie with sufficient currency to defame every Jew alive in the world today. It is not really Karsenty, the individual, who is on trial, but the State of Israel and the Jewish people—for a staged “murder” that the world chose to accept as true. Seven years after the supposed “crime,” the lie persists as if it had a life of its own. But, the real crime, the crime that did, in fact, occur and for which no one has been charged, nor punished, is the crime of defaming Israel and the Jews—a crime that has unleashed murder and terrorism in its wake and that has compromised the integrity of every journalist and public servant who has ever chosen to report the hoax as true. Some did so, deliberately, and without shame. Some disobeyed their conscience and chose convenience over honor. Still others went along with the hoax out of slothfulness, simply failing to exercise the diligence required of their profession. None can be excused for acting in good faith because the evidence was, and is, clear and unambiguous—impossible to ignore. Moreover, the evidence is substantive and overwhelming. The fact that the Al Dura story is a hoax is apparent to anyone who cares to cast a critical eye on the unedited, raw footage of the incident that has so far become available.
The Hoax and its Ramifications
On September 30, 2000, at the Netzarim Junction in the Gaza strip, Talal Abu Rahmeh, a stringer working for France 2 and CNN, filmed an Arab Palestinian boy, Mohamed al Durah, and his father, Jamal al Durah, crouching behind a concrete barrel, and cowering from a hail of bullets until the boy “dies” and the father is grievously “wounded.” France 2 Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Charles Enderlin, who was also the vice president of Israel’s Foreign Press Association, hand delivered copies of a 55 second excerpt of Talal’s footage to all of the major foreign news agencies at the Jerusalem Studio House. Within hours, the 55 second abbreviated film clip was broadcast on France 2 Television, a French government controlled and financed station, and subsequently picked up by virtually every media outlet in the world. IDF soldiers were depicted as the willful perpetrators of the atrocity. However, they are never seen on film shooting at the pair. Strangely, they were accused of shooting at the boy and his father for an astounding 45 minutes.
In reality, Mohamed al Durah’s “death” was a staged media event aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the State of Israel, and demonizing her in the eyes of the world community by depicting IDF soldiers as heartless killers who deliberately target children.
The Al Durah hoax is a weapon in the hands of Israel’s enemies. It has not been dispelled and continues to cause her harm. As recently as August 21, 2007, the French Daily, Le Monde interviewed Hazem Sharawi, the creator of “The Pioneers of Tomorrow,” a Hamas television program for children that typically incites hatred and violence against Israel and Jews. One of Sharawi’s young viewers explains how The Pioneers of Tomorrow advises children to “photograph the Jews when they kill children.” Despite his diploma in education, Sharawi has no problem teaching Palestinian Arab children to believe in lies. He says, “What we do only reflects reality. Look what happened to Mohamed Al Durah (a young boy killed by Israeli fire at the very beginning of the Intifiada) and Hoda Ghalia (a small girl killed with six other members of her family in a bombing on a Gaza beach in June of 2006).” The Ghalia family killing is yet another hoax spawned in the wake of Al Durah. But the parentheses inside the quotation marks are Le Monde’s. This internationally acclaimed French newspaper mechanically passes on the two lies to its readers without question, comment or criticism. In the hands of Le Monde, the path from hoax to reality is a one-way street.
It is also an endless chain. Respected human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International eagerly pick up the baton to accuse Israel of human rights abuse on the basis of groundless charges, such as these, that are endlessly broadcast over the media. Arab Palestinian violence is implicitly blamed on Israel, and measures that Israel takes in her own legitimate defense are condemned as unprovoked aggression against Arab civilians. The innumerable worldwide divestment campaigns against Israel, academic and economic boycotts and other indicia of pariah-hood are, in no small measure, due to her underserved reputation as a major human rights violator.
The Al Durah hoax has spawned countless other staged or faked atrocities that amount to nothing more, nor less, than authentic blood libels against the Jewish people. The world media, by and large, accept them without analytical scrutiny, indifferent to the falsity of their claims. Israel stood accused of massacring 5,000 Arab Palestinians during operation Defensive Shield in Jenin in the spring of 2002. The operation was launched to neutralize terrorist cells responsible for a series of ongoing attacks against Israelis, including the suicide bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya that killed and severely wounded dozens of people. Eventually, the truth came out about Jenin. The Arab Palestinians finally admitted that only 56 people had died, most of whom were armed combatants. Furthermore, aerial photographs of the Jenin battle attest to the pinpoint accuracy of the Israeli operation. It only targeted areas in which terrorists were believed to be hiding. To further reduce the risk to civilians, the IDF did not bomb the terrorists from the air. Instead, it conducted house to house searches for the terrorists, thus greatly increasing the danger to Israel’s own soldiers. Israel lost more than a dozen soldiers in Jenin, soldiers who deliberately placed themselves in harm’s way out of concern for Arab Palestinian life. Nevertheless, the original charge of massacre, though false, went round the world countless times, thanks to journalists and their media outlets who should have known better, but cared little about the lies they told. The harm to Israel’s reputation was irrevocable.
Moreover, the stigma attached to Israel as a major human rights violator, even surpassing such nations as China and Sudan, arouses world condemnation when she exercises her legitimate right and obligation to defend herself against the unrelenting terrorist attacks perpetrated by her Arab Palestinian neighbors—attacks implicitly justified by phony atrocities, not unlike the Al Durah “murder.”
Two weeks after the Al Durah hoax was publicized as fact, garnering worldwide condemnation of Israel in diplomatic, media, religious and human rights circles, two IDF soldiers made a wrong turn and inadvertently wandered into Ramallah, an Arab enclave under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The consequences of their fatal error are well known: they were tortured and beaten to death in the Palestinian Authority police station, and their lifeless bodies thrown out of the station’s second story window to a throng of men howling, Allahu-Akbar—God is great! They commenced to dismember and disembowel the soldiers’ corpses, and then passed the entrails on a platter to a hysterical mob numbering in the thousands who rejoiced as they literally chewed and swallowed the remains of their hated Jews. What is lesser known is that while eating the flesh and blood of their victims, in satisfaction and triumph, the good citizens of Ramallah chanted, not only, Allah hu-Akbar—but the name of Mohamed al Durah! The supposed “death” of the child had become a pretext for revenge.
Shockingly, former President Clinton, writing in his autobiography, My Life, referred to the carnage in the following terms: “As the violence persisted, two vivid images of its pain and futility emerged. A twelve year old Palestinian boy shot in the crossfire and dying in his father’s arms, and two Israeli soldiers pulled from a building and beaten to death, with their lifeless bodies dragged through the streets and one of their assailants proudly showing his bloodstained hands to the world on television.”
Evidently, the lie of Al Durah’s death had been repeated often enough to be accepted as true by a former president of the United States of America. Clinton equates the Al Durah lie, with the real torture, mutilation, murder and even cannibalization of two young men whose horrific fate was meant to avenge a killing—but a killing that had not occurred.
Moreover, the Al Durah scam, successful as it is, has set the pattern for other famous pretended revenge atrocities. Daniel Pearl’s murderers invoked Mohamed’s “death” as they beheaded their victim. Osama bin Laden invoked the “dead” child’s name in recruitment videos before and in celebratory fashion after 911. More recently, in June of 2005, a 21 year-old Arab Palestinian woman, Wafa Samir al-Bis, was stopped on her way to blow herself up and kill as many Israeli children as possible at the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva. She had been receiving treatment there for burns arising out of an accident at home. When asked why she specifically wanted to kill children, she replied that she was seeking revenge for the death of Mohamed al Durah.
On September 30, 2000, two hours after the boy’s death was broadcast, by France 2, A French viewer, Mr. Redoine T. posted hate messages to numerous websites urging Muslims to kill Jews, any time, any place and in any manner, in order to avenge the killing of innocent Palestinian children. He was brought before a French tribunal the following year which cited messages such as: “Muslims of France, support the Palestinian resistance, French people, do not be an accomplice of the cowardly, Jewish assassins and thieves who kill innocent children [emphasis added]” He says that killing Jews by any means is good and he lists suicide bombing as a legitimate instrument of death.
The mythical “martyr” has now been immortalized as an icon to be emulated. Postage stamps bearing his crouched image have been issued in Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia. A street in Bagdad and a square in Morocco bear his name. Countless schools throughout the Arab world are named after him. His image was depicted on a designer dress in Saudi Arabia. Arab television programs in the Palestinian Authority and elsewhere portray him on his way to heaven and exhort children to seek “martyrdom” with all its attendant obligations and rewards: namely, the killing of Jews and the quid pro quo of 72 black-eyed virgins.
On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon ascended the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to pundits, journalists and statesmen, this is the undisputed event that triggered what is known as the Second Intifada. However, the world ignores the fact that the phony Mohamed al Durah “murder” occurred only two days later. It was only after the Al Durah incident was broadcast the world over, day and night, ad infinitum, with sympathetic commentary from nearly all governments, that the violence exploded in earnest.
Furious Arab Palestinian mobs attacked Israeli soldiers who were condemned for coming to the defense of their country and its citizens. The Al Durah hoax also inspired murderous rampages throughout the Arab/Muslim world which directed blame for the supposed “atrocity” not only at Israel but, also, against the United States. Al Durah’s name was invoked in hateful demonstrations in Europe and the United States whose participants openly called for the killing of Jews and the destruction of Israel and the United States. Arson and vandalism against Jewish institutions worldwide skyrocketed, as did physical assaults, murder and terrorism. Attacks against Jews were regarded as “spill-over” from the Sharon visit to the Temple Mount. But, the name invoked by the rioters was less often Sharon, than, Al Durah.
The last few years have amply demonstrated that Jews and Israel are no longer terrorism’s principle target of choice. Islamic terror justified by imaginary victim-hood is laying waste to a substantial portion of the globe, and its reach is growing. If the Al Durah hoax is bad for Israel and Jews, it is no less toxic for the free world. The specter of raging mobs whipped into murderous frenzy on the basis of false charges propagated by government leaders and media institutions does not bode well for the rule of law, the keystone of constitutional democracy. However, the Al Durah scam lends itself perfectly to the model of government practiced ubiquitously in the Arab/Muslim world: namely, corrupt, authoritarian and ruthless dictatorships who posit an imaginary foe on which to channel the public rage that would otherwise be directed against themselves. We jeopardize our own freedoms by imbibing the unvarnished propaganda on which such dictatorial regimes rely in order to maintain their power.
Even so, Muslim rage is not only about politics. It is also religiously based. Just as Islamic terrorists justify their atrocities on the basis of religion, the raging, murderous, amorphous, Muslim mob gathers its forces in defense of Islam—and against the infidel. One only needs to recall a few instances in which Muslims rose up in defense of their religion: the publication of 12 Danish cartoons; Pope Benedict’s criticism of Islam; the false charge that a Koran had been desecrated at Gitmo. In fact, the list of events that have triggered Muslim rage, even in recent years, is endless. However, suffice it to say that Muslim rage is never limited to words alone—or even to fighting words. It is always accompanied by violence, murder, arson and terrorism.
Proof of the Hoax
Despite nearly unanimous declarations from media worldwide, it is clear from viewing the film of the “shooting” that Mohamed al Durah did not die, as alleged, nor did he nor his father receive a single bullet wound during the time in which he was being “killed” and allegedly died.
Western audiences viewed a 55 second video of the supposed “killing,” at the end of which news commentators dolefully announce the “death” of the boy. The 55 seconds shown on television is actually 7 segments of film pieced together. At the end of the 7th segment, two fingers appear in the viewfinder, indicating that this last segment was a second “take.” The two fingers are only visible if the tape is played in slow motion. An additional 3 seconds of film exists—three seconds that television viewers were deprived of observing. In this segment, the “dead” boy and his father reappear. Then, something extraordinary occurs: The boy raises his elbow and right leg, turns his head and furtively looks around, replaces his head and elbow in the “dead” position, but appears to have forgotten about his leg. He leaves it suspended in the air for the duration of the clip.
The two fingers after the boy is pronounced dead, plus the clip of the boy’s movements after he supposedly “dies,” is widely available on the internet for all the world to see. Strangely, there has been little forensic, let alone, scientific and journalistic, curiosity about this novel phenomenon. Evidently, the fervent belief in life after death explains the absence of even a single collective guffaw—let alone any critical analysis of why a “corpse” would behave in so untoward a manner. Nor did the fact that Mohamed al Durah’s “death” required two “takes” arouse any journalistic, or even theatrical curiosity.
France 2 retains 27 minutes of original footage which it has refused to release. It claims that it did not reveal the footage of the boy’s movements after he supposedly “dies” because it did not want to subject its audience to the “agony of the child.” In fact, no such footage of the child’s supposed “agony” exists.
Although, the boy’s posthumous movements should have pronounced the Al Durah Hoax dead on arrival, there is no shortage of further evidence of the deception. The Israeli soldiers are alleged to have continuously shot the boy and his father from their guard post for a duration of 45 minutes, with the intention of killing them. In the film, the Al Durahs are crouched against a wall. Immediately to the right of the screen is a cement barrel, topped by a concrete cinder block, also located against the wall. The Al Durahs, the wall, and the barrel are in plain view of the camera, and the Al Durahs appear to be using the barrel as a shield against fire coming from an unseen location on the other side of it. The unseen location is assumed to be the guard post from which, unseen assailants, presumably, Israeli soldiers, are, allegedly, “firing.” However, the Al Durahs are concealed by the barrel and are, therefore, not visible to the soldiers in the guard post.
Because the Israeli soldiers could not see the pair, they could not have fired on them deliberately. Furthermore, even if Mohamed al Durah were shot by bullets coming from an unseen location on the other side of the barrel, by unseen assailants, presumably, Israeli, there should be bullet holes on the section of the barrel that directly faces him. In fact, not a single bullet exited the barrel from the supposed Israeli direction to reach the boy. There are no bullet holes on the side of the barrel behind which Mohamed al Durah is “hiding.”
On the contrary, seven bullet holes were found in the wall against which the Al Durahs were crouched. The bullets that created these holes appeared to have been fired from the same direction from which the pair were being filmed, that is, from a Palestinian position located behind the camera, and not from the direction of the Israeli position, as alleged.
The boy’s father claimed that he had been shot in the hand, arm, elbow and leg and that he suffered a crushed pelvis. He also said that Mohamed received a bullet to his stomach that exited from the back. According to the cameraman, Abu Rahmeh, Mohamed bled for 20 minutes. But, in the film clip broadcast the world over, and in the additional 3 seconds not commonly seen by television viewers, there are no signs of blood on the Al Durahs, on the wall behind them, nor on the ground.
Three hours of raw footage from Reuters and AP, taken in the vicinity of the Netzarim junction in Gaza, on September 30, 2000—the very same day as the supposed “killing” of the boy—show dozens of Palestinian Arab children attacking the Israeli guard post, not only from the ground, but from adjacent buildings that looked down upon it, with Molotov cocktails, heavy objects, including appliances, stones, and other projectiles. Many of these landed on the roof directly over the heads of the approximately 20 soldiers inside. Surely, if they had desired to kill children, those in plain view, lobbing their Molotov cocktails, would have been easy targets—unlike the Al Durahs, who were not threatening the soldiers, were not attacking the soldiers, were not visible to the soldiers, were not in the line of fire of the soldiers, but were, in fact, impossible targets for the soldiers.
Despite the attempted arson and other violent aggression against the guard post, at no time are Israeli soldiers filmed firing upon the Arab Palestinian children. The dozens of reporters and cameramen observing the evil mischief of these “innocents” were waiting for them to provoke a shooting incident. If the Israeli soldiers had fired even a single shot at the children, it is impossible that the cameras would have missed it. Indeed, they were waiting for nothing else! In fact, other than the phony Al Durah “killing,” not a single Arab Palestinian child was reported killed or injured by Israelis at the Netzarim Junction that day. It is beyond the realm of possibility that the Israeli soldiers in the guard post would have ignored these children in favor of shooting at Mohamed al Durah and his father who were not violent, not present and not even visible to them.
This raw footage, in other sequences, is rich with evidence of typically staged atrocities and is widely available on the internet.
One can see a phony ambulance evacuation and a pretend battle in which Arab Palestinians are firing into what turns out to be an empty building. There are scenes in which men dressed in civilian clothing are instructing others dressed in military uniform in the staging of heroic battle scenes with nonexistent Israeli soldiers. There are faked injuries. Phony “victims” are handled roughly and stuffed into ambulances while bystanders smile and give each other “high fives.” The Al Durahs are seen crouching behind their barrel while a panicked crowd runs away. In another faked scene, a hoard of Arab Palestinians appears to be fleeing and scrambling to get out of the line of Israeli fire while other Arab Palestinians calmly stroll the streets, and go about their business with their children and families. If all the others are panicking, why aren’t they? The answer: They know the scene is staged.
Staging atrocities is a matter of common knowledge in the Palestinian Authority. But, if ordinary Arab Palestinians know it, why do so many journalists appear not to know it? Of course, the question is rhetorical. Arab Palestinians can witness staged atrocities just by walking down the street in their neighborhood. Ditto for the journalists who are there to report on them. But, reporting a lie does not make it true. If the media are willing to accept the implausible lie of Al Durah, any amount of fakery can be concocted as true.
Recalling the words of a character in Leon Uris’, The Haj, “there is nothing like the beauty of a well-placed lie.” To the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people, the Al Durah lie is well placed and very beautiful, indeed. It has afforded them great satisfaction in the dishonor that has accrued to the State of Israel, in the hatred that has been directed at Jews worldwide, and in the terrorism and murder that has followed in its wake.
Philippe Karsenty has been sued in France under a criminal statute for questioning the veracity of a news story that has caused extensive damage to the honor and dignity of the State of Israel, and has unleashed gratuitous violence and terrorism against Jews, not just in Israel, but the world over who are seen as representatives of an evil entity that must be targeted and punished. Though questions about the case are troubling and abundant, few journalists have elected to grapple with it. France 2’s case against Karsenty is an obvious attempt to silence and punish him for his determination to expose the Al Durah hoax to the light of reason and truth.
The Al Durah hoax is reminiscent of the Dreyfus Affair that occurred more than 100 years ago in France. A Jewish army captain was falsely accused and condemned for treason. Many years later, due to the intervention of writer and journalist, Emile Zola, the verdict was overturned and he was released from incarceration at the notorious Devil’s Island. But, the day Dreyfus was publicly relieved of his office, his honors ripped from his uniform, and his sword broken in two, thousands upon thousands of Frenchmen gathered to chant and cry hysterically in the lovely boulevards of Paris, “Death to the Jews!” A young Austrian journalist was there to report the story. At that moment, he knew that the Jews of Europe were doomed and that it was imperative that they leave the continent. His name was Theodore Herzl and the year was 1894. Less than 50 years later, his words proved prophetic. Seventy-five thousand French Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis and their French collaborators, and more than 6 million Jews died in Europe as a whole. It is a sad footnote to the Dreyfus Affair that France is the country that breathed life into the Al Durah hoax.
Though he is the one on trial, Philippe Karsenty is not Dreyfus. It is the State of Israel and the Jewish people who are Dreyfus today. Nor is Karsenty Zola. Why? Zola enjoyed wide acclaim as an important writer and was, thus, capable of stirring public opinion in support of Dreyfus. It was the storm of public outrage that finally won Dreyfus’ freedom. But, that outrage was the product of a journalist who was willing to publicly question the lies on which Dreyfus’ conviction was based. Karsenty is merely an ordinary citizen who, standing almost without allies, has elected to pit himself against yet another terrible lie. But, alas, there is not even one Emile Zola today. Nevertheless, the hope still remains that, even at this late hour, a new Zola will come forward to speak out, to demand justice, and to stake his honor and reputation on the truth.