French court rejects Al-Dura hoax

posted at 8:24 am on May 22, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

French broadcaster France2 lost its case and a large portion of its credibility yesterday when its appeals court called their Al-Dura story a hoax and reversed a lower-court ruling on a defamation case. Philippe Karsenty was vindicated in his criticism of France2 when he called their video of a supposed murder of a Palestinian child by Israeli soldiers staged for propaganda purposes. As PJM’s Richard Landes notes, the entire unedited footage of France2 contained a long series of laughably staged “injuries”, prompting him to refer to France2 as “Pallywood”:

The French court of appeals, presided over by the redoubtable Madame Laurence Trébucq, has reversed the decision of a lower court — the (in)famous “Chambre 17″ that specializes in verbal crimes had found Philippe Karsenty guilty of defaming France2 after Karsenty, in a 2004 article, claimed (as have many familiar with the dossier), that the scene was staged. The unexpected reversal by the court of appeals represents the first major European breach of the blanket of silence that has greeted any effort of critics to call into question France2’s presentation of the Al Dura footage as actual news.

The Muhammad al Durah affair represents one of the most revealing and distressing cases in the mainstream media’s coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. On September 30, 2000, France2’s Middle East correspondent, Charles Enderlin, ran footage of what looked like a boy and his father, together hiding behind a barrel, “the target of fire coming from the Israeli position.” According to this report, the boy was killed and the father badly wounded. The footage went around the world instantly, provoking outrage and violence against both Israel and Jewish communities in the Arab world and in Europe.

France2 compounded these violations of journalistic ethics by attempting to block any criticism. Ridiculing the proponents of the “staged hypothesis” as conspiracy theorists on the order of 9-11 truthers or holocaust deniers, France2 sued independent French citizens who had the nerve to criticize them for their journalistic incompetence. …

France2’s legal maneuver backfired when they were called to show the court the raw footage of their Palestinian cameraman, Talal abu Rahmah, whose camera work and testimony lie at the heart of the accusation against the Israeli army. They found themselves forced to cut the most embarrassing scenes before showing the footage to the court, and to explain to the court why the remaining footage had so many suspicious scenes.

The reversal and the resultant implosion of France2′s credibility shows the lengths that some will go to paint the Israelis as the source of all woe in the region. Instead of reporting objective truth, the “journalists” at France2 decided to propagate lies as a means of telling the narrative they prefer. They couldn’t actually find examples of Israeli soldiers deliberately killing unarmed children, but France2 believed that they did, so they staged it and passed it off as truth. And unfortunately, they found many people who believed them despite the many inconsistencies in the video — such as the child moving after his supposed death and the lack of blood in the scene, rather odd for a gut shot.

The reversal upholds an important principle for freedom of speech — the freedom of criticism. Karsenty dared to criticize France2 for their hoax, and the broadcaster decided to wage a campaign of intimidation against him rather than attempt to defend its propaganda. They succeeded in the lower court and could have forced Karsenty into silence. Instead, Karsenty persevered and eventually forced France2 to release all of its footage, a step they had resisted from the first. That showed the depth of dishonesty not just for the team that created the al-Dura hoax, but for the entire organization that deliberately hid the truth and tried to silence Karsenty through legal action.

Landes includes a long video presentation as part of this story. Be sure to watch it all the way through, and ask yourselves this question: how many al-Duras have we been fed by a media eager to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Landes provides at least one more major hoax with which Americans may be very familiar.


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Viva la France!

Limerick on May 22, 2008 at 8:27 AM

Oh that pesky thing called truth……….

doriangrey on May 22, 2008 at 8:29 AM

They succeeded in the lower court and could have forced Karsenty into silence. Instead, Karsenty persevered and eventually forced France2 to release all of its footage, a step they had resisted from the first.

The lower court issued a mindcrimes ruling without even seeing the raw footage?

forest on May 22, 2008 at 8:30 AM

Sarkozy you magnificent bastard!

Darth Executor on May 22, 2008 at 8:36 AM

Hey, doesn’t France have any frivolous lawsuit laws? Someone at France2 should be getting some hefty jail time for knowingly misusing the courts.

Darth Executor on May 22, 2008 at 8:37 AM

Sad thing about this whole episode is that it happened 7 years ago. Besides some “right-wing” bloggers and Israel supporters, no in MSM will care to report this verdict and the anti-semites of the world will still use Al-Dura affair for its political purposes.

Lance Murdock on May 22, 2008 at 8:45 AM

The only problem is that Dura will STILL be used, regardless, as an icon for Hamas’ continued bombings and killings. Shows you just how much the truth means to those SOBs.

MadisonConservative on May 22, 2008 at 8:46 AM

Once again the main point of this type of story is missed – the Palestinian involvement in a bald-faced lie!

OldEnglish on May 22, 2008 at 8:48 AM

Our public schools k-12,
our colleges and universities,
our news media and even our body politic are now the tools of Marxist idealism.

The truth is now taboo.

we have to operate solely on Pravda.

To a Marxist, the end justifies the means and their END we be the END.

TheSitRep on May 22, 2008 at 8:53 AM

I rather think we shall soon see the following:
“Although there are some questions about some snippets of film, the underlying story is accurate.”

Yes, rather-think and underLYING….

LaMonte on May 22, 2008 at 8:59 AM

And yet the media keep claiming they’re objective, while they are continually exposed as otherwise.

rbj on May 22, 2008 at 9:00 AM

Yeah, the silence on this one will be deafening. After all, how can the Palestinians be made into victims if it’s shown that they are a bunch of frauds, and the western media willing dupes.

thekingtut on May 22, 2008 at 9:00 AM

What percentage of all pro-Islamofascist stories are “substantiated” with fake film? THAT would make for a great senior/graduate thesis and news story today.

The BBC News this morning made no reference to this story’s fabrication being exposed. Instead, the BBC featured the French 1968 Strike, a (non-)story presented as an incoherent far stretch comparison to Paris today, a convoluted attempt from Britain to negate Sarkhozy as if he were de Gaul.

For us, a Constitutional amendment that will never happen but makes for great rhetoric: Hold the press absolutely accountable for the ACCURACY of every story printed. THAT is the least one would expect from a constructionist Bill of Rights interpretation.

maverick muse on May 22, 2008 at 9:01 AM

The only problem is that they are not fooling the ‘western media’. The ‘western media’ are knowing participants. Or else they are dumber than doorknobs.

CrazyFool on May 22, 2008 at 9:01 AM

Sarkozy you magnificent bastard!

Darth Executor on May 22, 2008 at 8:36 AM

This was pre-Sarkozy

ToddonCapeCod on May 22, 2008 at 9:04 AM

But the outcome occurs with Sarkozy, ToddonCapeCod.

maverick muse on May 22, 2008 at 9:06 AM

But this has been going on for years. Last year we had the faux-tography of a “burning city”, but it was just a trash heap. And the missle that “struck” the ambulance (and left rust spots).
This is nothing new, just confirmation that it is continuing.

right2bright on May 22, 2008 at 9:09 AM

As Dan Rather might say: While the documents were faked, we believe in the underLYING truth of the story.

Lunkinator on May 22, 2008 at 9:27 AM

Out of curiosity, does the hoax ‘artiste’, Charles Enderlin remain employed at France2? or with any other ‘journalistic’ venture?

heroyalwhyness on May 22, 2008 at 9:39 AM

The only problem is that they are not fooling the ‘western media’. The ‘western media’ are knowing participants. Or else they are dumber than doorknobs.

CrazyFool on May 22, 2008 at 9:01 AM

Yeah, it’s annoying hearing this guy repeatedly refer to “errors” and “easily fooled” in reference to the western media. Can he really be that naive? I suspect that he futilely believes he’ll have more influence in changing the media behavior if he presents his case in a manner that the media can save face.

Buddahpundit on May 22, 2008 at 9:41 AM

Instead, Karsenty persevered and eventually forced France2 to release all of its footage, a step they had resisted from the first.

Wasn’t there also some missing footage when this was released a la Rosemary Woods? My poor bedraggled memory said there was supposed to be 27 minutes (or something) and Enderlain only brought 19.

Has everything been released?

Grantman on May 22, 2008 at 9:45 AM

Excellent news!

Bob's Kid on May 22, 2008 at 9:58 AM

how many al-Duras have we been fed by a media eager to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Can you say Jenin?

Tim Burton on May 22, 2008 at 10:46 AM

I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the MSM to report on this.

GarandFan on May 22, 2008 at 10:53 AM

Wait. France2 “ridicul[ed] the proponents of the ‘staged hypothesis’ as conspiracy theorists on the order of 9-11 truthers or holocaust deniers”?? I thought the France2 crowd was the standard bearer for 9-11 truthers (not to mention, pretty cosy with some holocaust deniers).

boko fittleworth on May 22, 2008 at 10:55 AM

Palestinian Official: “These are artistic presentation but they reveal the truth.” My goodness! Dan Rather has moved to the Palestinian Authority!

srhoades on May 22, 2008 at 11:42 AM

Oh yeah, and free the Jena 6!

srhoades on May 22, 2008 at 11:43 AM

Removing the stain from the Dreyfus affair. How wonderful and commendable of France.

JiangxiDad on May 22, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Now do any Jewish people injured by the resulting violence have any right to sue France2, this is equal to yelling fire in a crowded theater. They created a problem that caused others to be harmed.

Rbastid on May 22, 2008 at 11:54 AM

And the part of the dead boy is played today by mackmud whoever. The part of the boy’s wounded father is played by Josuph Somebody. There. Truth in media.

TimothyJ on May 22, 2008 at 11:54 AM

Didn’t 60 Minutes 2 do a piece where they aired the al-Dura footage and claimed it was authentic?

Another feather in their cap…

DubiousD on May 22, 2008 at 12:03 PM

Can the Israel government sue for this blood libel?

Just the act of the lawsuit i would think bring this to light on a bigger scale for more to see.

jharada on May 22, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Hey, doesn’t France have any frivolous lawsuit laws? Someone at France2 should be getting some hefty jail time for knowingly misusing the courts.

Darth Executor on May 22, 2008 at 8:37 AM

Ask Brigitte Bardot about that one.

Maquis on May 22, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Every time I watch network news (which isn’t often) and they mention anything to do with the Israel-Arab conflict, they slant it against Israel.

Every time that I’ve seen.

It’s institutional racism, maybe that UN investigator should have a look at coverage of Israel in the West. What, you say? Oh, never mind, then.

I don’t know how the Israelis maintain their equanimity – I’d be kicking reporters out left, right and center.

Merovign on May 22, 2008 at 1:59 PM

Can the Israel government sue for this blood libel?

Just the act of the lawsuit i would think bring this to light on a bigger scale for more to see.

jharada on May 22, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Israel is trapped between a rock and a hard place.

The hard place is being smeared with the death of Mohammed al-Dura.

The rock is that as soon as the Israeli government gets involved, news agencies around the world will begin to report the Palestinian propaganda of the “al-Dura coverup” being a “Zionist plot” to discredit “reputable Palestinian Journalists.”

The Israeli government knows this. I think they’re just hoping that the truth will out all by itself, and in this case, by France2 being stupid enough to sue someone for telling the truth, it may just happen.

apollyonbob on May 22, 2008 at 2:35 PM