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The Al-Dura case revisited

Posted by Helen Monday, November 06, 2006

There is no need, as it happens, for me to go into any details on the case as other people have done so.

This blog has referred to the story of the mysterious film about the supposed killing of the equally mysterious little boy, Mohammed Al-Dura, by the wicked Israeli snipers, broadcast on September 30, 2000 by the state owned French TV channel, France2 with the speaking voice of its star reporter, Charles Enderlin.

The picture became an iconic one as it was transmitted round the world and made people forget that the second intifada was entirely the fault of the late unlamented Chairman Arafat.

Then, as John Rosenthal points out in WorldPoliticsWatch:

Soon, however, doubts began to arise about the France2 report. It would turn out that Charles Enderlin had not been at Netzarim that day and that his narration had been based on the account given by France2 cameraman Talal Abu Rahma: the sole known witness of the events. No autopsy was performed. No bullets were recovered. When asked by the German television journalist Esther Shapira about the latter point, Rahma would insist that France2 had collected the bullets -- before realizing the implausibility of the claim, chuckling, and remarking enigmatically "we have some secrets."
Mr Rosenthal traces the various ramifications of the case in his article as well as providing a full dossier on the case on Transatlantic Intelligencer and comes to the trial, which this blog has also posted on.

France2 and Charles Enderlin sued Philippe Karsenty and Media-Ratings for pointing out the various problems with the film. In fact, France2 has threatened to sue everyone who suggests, whether on the basis of available evidence or not, that the entire sequence may have been staged. I am looking forward to them taking the Wall Street Journal Europe to court.

The court found Philippe Karsenty guilty of defamation, though as Mr Rosenthal carefully analyzes, his comments were deliberately misinterpreted and a good deal of evidence was simply ignored.
But what is most notable about the court's ruling against Karsenty is that such a matter has come before the courts at all. It should be recalled that neither Charles Enderlin, nor, needless to say, the France2 executives in Paris, were present in Netzarim to witness the events at issue. They are thus no more in a position definitively to "affirm" that the scene was authentic than the Mena and its supporters are in a position definitively to affirm that it was staged. In both cases, we are dealing with just more or less plausible hypotheses. In a free society, such controversies are the stuff of public debate: with individuals being at liberty to form -- and express -- their convictions as they see fit. In France in 2006, this is evidently not the case.
As we have said before, though we are only six years in, this could be the trial of the century as far as Europe is concerned.

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