A rough translation by Richard Landes of the French text of the final judgment of Philippe Karsenty’s court case makes damning reading for France 2 and its correspondent Charles Enderlin.
Despite this and the implications for media reporting on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, almost the entire mainstream media chose not to report on the case despite the fact that wire services Reuters and Associated Press did offer coverage at the time.
Credit to the Wall Street Journal, the only international publication that did comment on the case in an editorial:
International media lapped up the televised report of al-Durra’s shooting on France’s main state-owned network, France 2. Barely a peep was heard, however, when the Paris Court of Appeal ruled in a suit brought by the network against the founder of a media watchdog group. …
The ruling at the very least opens the way for honest discussion of the al-Durra case, and coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general. French media could stand some self-examination. The same holds for journalists elsewhere. …
Judge Trbucq said that Mr. Karsenty “observed inexplicable inconsistencies and contradictions in the explanations by Charles Enderlin.”
We don’t know exactly what happened to Mohammed al-Durra. Perhaps we never will. But the Paris court ruling shows that France 2 wasn’t completely open about what it knew about that day. It suggests the Israelis may not have been to blame. It makes it plausible to consider — without being dismissed as an unhinged conspiracy theorist — the possibility that the al-Durra story was a hoax.
To this day, Islamic militants use the al-Durra case to incite violence and hatred against Israel. They are well aware of the power of images. Mr. Karsenty is, too, which is why he and others have tried to hold France 2 accountable for its reporting.
The Jerusalem Post commented:
The recent verdict, besides usefully underscoring the right to criticize the press and its sometimes dangerously hasty product, also calls much-needed attention to the ways in which world opinion is shaped by perceptions that are themselves shaped by a not infallible media. The al-Dura affair, like the myth of a massacre in Jenin in April 2002, has been so fervently seized by those who seek confirmation for their belief in Israeli culpability, that it is likely never to be erased from international consciousness. It by now stands well beyond the reach of refutation.
… the sordid affair teaches a valuable lesson about the dangerous enthusiasms, especially in Muslim societies, and especially among those who claim to speak for an awakened conscience, for modern myths of Jewish evil.
Writing for YNet News, Israel Government Press Office director Danny Seaman takes a wider view of the al-Dura affair within the context of media manipulation:
The al-Dura affair is the most conspicuous and blatant of the phenomenon of media manipulation undertaken by Palestinian workers employed by international media outlets. These employees stage, produce, and edit events and photos in a bid to slander Israel in the world. Media reports and photos such as the al-Dura case affect global public opinion and governments. The stages events undermine Israels ability to conduct itself within the conflict and affect our ability to maneuver and secure targets in times of emergency. …
Often we see reports about some kind of harm done to the Palestinians by Israel that immediately make headlines worldwide. In many cases, the charges turn out to be false, yet the damage to Israel is already done. This stems from the fact that foreign networks do not do the minimum they should be doing – verifying sources and crosschecking information. After all, they always attribute reports to Palestinian reporters and always find “credible” sources that would confirm the charges.
This may be forgiven the first and possibly second time. Yet once these revelations emerge time and again, we could expect foreign media outlets to be stricter and exhibit proper professional conduct before again leveling false charges at the State of Israel.
Therefore, exposing the truth behind the Muhammad al-Dura events is vital for the elimination of the phenomenon of staged media reports and for undermining the natural manner with which this phenomenon is accepted by global media outlets and the leniency they show to it. This tolerance sometimes stem from reasons of political sympathy, but mostly for reasons of financial profitability. Israel must make clear to global media outlets that they bear responsibility for the reports of their employees and must insist on adherence to journalistic ethics and accurate reporting, even when dealing with the State of Israel.
THE BIG LIES
The al-Dura affair is one of a number of media manipulations and distortions covered in our exciting new interactive resource – The Big Lies.
You will be able to navigate through several case studies of untrue accusations that were reported as facts. Each study has an introduction, an explanation of the lie, the lie reported in the media, and the actual facts of the case.
If you haven’t already done so, check out The Big Lies by clicking on the image below.