Earliest stirrings of ‘fake news’ allegations

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The iconic image of Mohammed al-Dura cowering behind his father (below) came to define the second Palestinian intifada. (In other reports, the boy’s name is spelled al-Durrah or al-Durah; ‘Mohammed’ is also spelled variously.)

Palestinian supporters believe the boy died a martyr.

Yet the final twelve seconds of footage deliberately withheld by the TV broadcaster showed the boy lifting his elbow and looking out … after he was declared dead by the reporter.

Never believe that media are non partisan

Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahma filmed the incident at the Netzarim junction in Gaza on 30 Sept 2000. He recorded a total of 27 minutes of footage that day.

The dramatic scene, edited down to 55 seconds, was broadcast by France-2 television network on the evening news. In a voiceover, reporter Charles Enderlin announced, “The boy is dead”, imputing that he was shot by Israeli soldiers.

Enderlin himself was however not actually on the scene when Talal was covering the exchange of fire between the soldiers and Palestinian gunmen.

Bias, political agenda of European echo chamber

There were about 20 or so television crews there but only Talal had the footage of Mohammed al-Dura’s death throes although a Reuters clip had also caught the boy and his father but from a different angle.

The France-2 reporter could not have known that the boy was dead as claimed in his voiceover as he was not an eyewitness to the crossfire. Enderlin was not even in the area that day but somewhere else (he was in Ramallah).

Neither could the France-2 cameraman prove that the boy was shot “in cold blood” – as per his accusation – based solely on his film (more about this later). After two years, Talal in a 30 Sept 2002 testimony, walked back his initial allegation that Mohammed al-Dura was intentionally shot dead by the Israelis.

There was no autopsy on the boy and no bullets had been recovered, according to the Camera analysis of the controversial episode. (Camera is the acronym for Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.)

Yet France-2 made an immediate decision to distribute the spectacular – and incendiary – footage to the global media free of charge to be broadcast around the world.

Free? Why share such a scoop?

Enderlin probably gave it away so as to create a kind of ‘rush’ on the market, speculated Prof. Richard Landes.

“Once other stations told the same story, it would be-and has been-impossible to deny it. Had Enderlin kept it as exclusive, other stations might have said the story wasn’t convincing. For him the wider distribution served as a safety guarantee.”

⇓  The French and their anti semitism … fast forward 20 years

Authenticity of France-2 story line questioned

Pallywood: “a portmanteau of ‘Palestinian’ and ‘Hollywood’, is a coinage used to describe alleged media manipulation, distortion or fraud by the Palestinians and other Arabs designed to win the public relations war against Israel”.

An investigation by Metula News Agency found that “France-2’s footage of Mohammed Al Dura does not correspond to that of someone mortally wounded by high velocity bullets”.

The Israel Defence Forces’ reenactment and ballistics tests (studying bullet holes and dust clouds in the al-Dura video) indicated that any alleged fatal shots could not have come from the IDF position.

A French media watchdog called Media Ratings examined raw footage of the clip shown by France-2 of the killing of al-Dura and came to the conclusion the event was staged. (Google ‘Philippe Karsenty’ and his findings.)


Explanation by Boston University history professor Richard Landes

Prof. Landes explained:

“After reading [James] Fallows in June 2003 and meeting in Paris with Poller and Huber in July, I finally got to Israel in October and met with Shahaf. After several long sessions with him analyzing the footage (he was working with two hours of raw footage from another Palestinian cameraman there that day), I learned how to ‘read’ the ‘rushes’ from Netzarim Junction for indications that scenes were staged rather than real: the telltale signs of no indication of real injury (no blood, breaking the fall with outstretched hands), of the brutal evacuations (no stretchers, no individual manhandled by the evacuators) that would kill a wounded person, the complete lack of fear of Israeli guns, the ‘action’ taking place beyond the range of Israeli guns.”

[…]

“On 31 October 2003, I sat down in the France 2 studios in Jerusalem and watched the rushes with Charles Enderlin and his Israeli cameraman, who happened to have been in Ramallah with him on 30 September 2000. That was when the shingles fell from my eyes.

“Much of the footage had a familiar quality: it resembled the footage I had seen in Shahaf’s studio, either boring or staged. At one point a Palestinian adult grabbed his leg as if he’d been shot and limped badly. Here, for the ‘scene’ to work, a half-dozen others should have picked him up and run him past cameras to an ambulance. But only kids gathered around him who were too small to pick him up. The man shooed them away, looked around, realized no one’s coming, and walked away without a limp.

“Enderlin’s Israeli cameraman laughed. When I asked why, he said, ‘It seems staged.’ I replied, ‘Everything seems staged.’ And then the other shoe dropped. ‘Oh, they do that all the time,’ Enderlin offered helpfully, ‘it’s a cultural thing; they exaggerate.’ ‘But if they do it all the time, why couldn’t they have done it with al-Dura?’ ‘Oh, they’re not good enough for that.’

“At that moment I realized the full-double-extent of the problem: Palestinians stage all the time, and Western journalists have no trouble with that. Any serious journalist who had a cameraman who filmed extensive staged scenes for him should either have told him that was unacceptable or fired him.” – source: ‘The Muhammad Al-Dura blood libel: A case analysis


No restraint on media freewheeling

From what we can understand from Prof. Richard Landes’ investigation, some journalists are alright with faked casualties and inserting staged casualty scenes in their ‘news’ coverage as long as the ends justify the means.

After all, the story of widespread Palestinian casualties and deaths is broadly true, the Western journos tell themselves.

Regardless of Enderlin’s complicity (closing one eye), it is nonetheless contentious for him to cut the final 12 seconds or so of footage which showed Mohammed al-Dura moving – this after Enderlin pronounced the boy quite dead in the France-2 dramatic voiceover.

In other words, counter to the entirety of footage available, Enderlin dishonestly told his television audience around the world that Muhammad al-Dura was dead when the last seconds of film showed the boy moving casually.

Enderlin snipped the tape prematurely. And he gave excuses for doing so.

A little over three weeks after the shooting, Enderlin told French magazine Telerama, “I cut the images of the child’s agony (death throes), they were unbearable. The story was told, the news delivered. It would not have added anything more”.

In September 2003, three years after the shooting, Enderlin again asserted that he did not in any way transform reality. “But since some parts of the [final] scene are unbearable, France 2 cut a few seconds from the scene, in accordance with our ethical charter”.

See for yourself below whether Enderlin was being truthful when he claimed that the sight of moving elbows were “unbearable”, added nothing to the world’s understanding of the narrative and that his cutting those final seconds of the video was the “ethical” thing to do.

⇓   D-E-A-D … The last frame of France-2’s broadcast, seen as edited by Enderlin

What viewers around the world were not allowed to see

Read carefully the description below of the scene.

“In France 2’s original showing of the material, Enderlin did indeed cut twelve seconds where the boy, after he was alleged to have died from his stomach wounds, was neither clutching his stomach nor crouched up in a fetal position. Instead he was lying flat out, free hand over his eyes, lifting up his elbow, looking out and then slowly putting his arm down.” — Prof. Richard Landes

⇓  Watch carefully, and replay again and again

Some two decades ago – the al-Dura controversy dated from year 2000 – few media consumers would have ever harboured suspicions about the good faith of mainstream and prominent news organizations.

Today President Donald Trump has upended the way in which we view the media. Trump is the David battling the media Goliath. It is a fight he must be cheered on to win.

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