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Fanning flames with a hoax

The death of 12-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Durra by “gunfire from the direction of the Israeli” forces, as reported by French TV reporter Charles Enderlin, was huge world news eight years ago.

But it now seems that what we saw was not what actually happened. The dramatic footage of the youngster crouched beside his father as “Israeli” bullets whizzed by him, the scenes of his death and his father’s wounding were ghastly but compelling viewing.

Locally, it was reported by The Daily Telegraph, The Australian, The Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald, the latter stating unequivocally that “Rami (sic) Al-dura, 12 (was) killed by Israel fire while cradled in his father’s arms”.

Invocations of the young al-Durra’s death became a regular ritual on Palestinian television, songs encouraging children to join him in martyrdom were written, streets were named after him, mothers were exhorted to encourage their infants to be like him, his image was even used on stamps.

The murderers of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl used the clip when they posted footage of their nauseating crime on the internet.

The al-Durra imagery truly became, in the words of one Canadian journalist, “the farce that launched a thousand suicide bombers”.

Doubts arose about the footage shot by a Palestinian cameraman for the network France 2 when it was revealed the same person had been responsible for faking other news footage.

Those doubts were upheld when a number of investigations, by both independent and Israeli officials including the Israeli army, were concluded.

The Israeli army, using the angles of the shots, demonstrated that the gunfire could not have come from their position. The independent investigators led by Philippe Karsenty, a director of the Media-Ratings watchdog (, went further and said the scenes had been staged and that report was a “hoax”.

He was successfully sued for defamation but opted to press on to a higher court.

Last week, he was vindicated. Senior French judge Laurence Trebucq, sitting on the Court of Appeals in the Palais de Justice, acquitted Karsenty and ruled against France 2 and its reporter, Enderlin. They now intend to take the matter to the nation’s highest court, which rules on technicalities, not facts.

Judge Trebucq’s meticulous ruling upheld - point-by-point - Karsenty’s case against the al-Durra footage.

The inflammatory report was essentially destroyed when he ordered the government-owned broadcaster to produce all the raw footage shot of the incident and instead of a few seconds of film, an 18-minute excerpt, still not the complete sequence, was shown to the court.

It revealed staged battle scenes, rehearsed ambulance evacuations - but nothing to substantiate the toxic television report.

No shots were seen coming from the Israeli position, no bullets were shown striking the boy, no blood was seen on the father’s shirt, though he was said to have cradled his eviscerated son in his arms, and the boy is seen to move, even to look conspiratorially at the television camera, when he is supposed to have been dead.

The judge found that evidence submitted by the government-owned television channel - statements provided by the cameraman - were “not perfectly credible either in form or content”.

The credibilty of the French press, which had largely sided with France 2, has been seriously damaged by the finding.

As Karsenty said in a statement he released after he was exonerated, he and others who questioned the authenticity of the TV report were branded as “extremists and dangerous fanatics”, forcing him to conclude that critical thinking was dead or dying in France.

Consistent with that view, there has been almost no coverage of the court’s finding in France over the past six days, though it has received international attention from The Wall Street Journal and a number of other publications.

Nor does a search of the files reveal that it has been reported in any major Australian newspaper, including those like The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, which carried close to 20 stories and references, most of them sympathetic, to al-Durra.

Given the global importance on the Middle East conflict, the French judge’s ruling is of great significance.

Not significant enough for our own government-owned television network’s Media Watch program however.

On Monday, its international coverage was restricted to an innocuous hoax by an internet traffic booster and the re-use of an Aceh tsunami picture in a story on the Burmese crisis.

Given the manner in which this infamous hoax has been used to inflame dangerous passions, shouldn’t our media watchdog have made it a priority to set the record straight before these images are manipulated to fuel more violence?

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The problem is not only poor Israeli PR, but an eagerness of journos and PR bully boys to believe the worst of Israel and of Jews. The other problem is that the post-Zionist Israeli elite has adopted a very Christian attitude of catharsis through confession for sins real or imagined. The whole matter could have been avoide by declaring the al-Dura incident a fake. Israel should respond to all Arab claims by calling them lies until proven true, rather than attempting to carrying out investigations in areas they don't control on victims already buried. Even the Yanks have woken up to the jihadi practise of lying to call democracies to account thus tying up resources, undermining charges against them and excusing their cupability.

Posted by paul2 on 2008-05-31 12:33:40 GMT

Time to expose this vicious France 2 anti-semitic lie regarding the Al-Durra murder to all newspapers & media worldwide by means of Piers Akerman's article.

Posted by MEW on 2008-05-31 08:28:38 GMT

They named streets for Durah, the staged martyr. Stamps were issued, short video clips circulating on YouTube, posters are sold everywhere, books were published, CD's are sold, it has become an iconic symbol of the struggle for "Arab dignity"....It cannot be removed from the conspiratorial culture & mind of the "Arab Street" As an example: Link T.V, a foundation sponsored cable channel here in California, has twice a day 30 minutes news from the Middle East, American Leftist individual contributors pay for this daily dishing, produced by a prominent Palestinian wise guy named Dejani-from an old Jerusalem family, and this daily bombardment is a sample of what happens in many other parts of the civilized world. 80% of the 30 minutes features bad news on Israel, some bad news about misbehaving Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan or Guantanamo, seldom any news about what really happens on the Arab scene. The truth is utterly inconsequential. No item is ever qualified. If an operation is taken in Gaza in retaliation for 20-30 rockets on Sderot is taking place, the coverage usually shows injured selected civilians, who were innocent, or a mentally disturbed type, who suddenly got caught in the cross fire. Never, a clear statement that they were fighters, enablers, facilitators, regardless of the fact that on Israeli T.V one can see drone footage showing the contrary. It is a life of endless delusion. Women exist to serve. The Umma exist only to obey Allah. The rest does not matter. There are more Arabs living in the U.K, France, Brazil or Chile for example than Jews. One can only imagine what they are up to. This is one bad battle to fight because it has all the symptoms of malignant cancer.

Posted on 2008-05-30 17:21:09 GMT

Yes, this proven hoax news should go main stream around the world. Our own tv coverage should include this very important report as it has affected many.

Posted by William on 2008-05-30 14:06:12 GMT

This is just another example of Pallywood productions that are taken in hook, line and sinker by the media at large. The media today in Middle East reporting does not investigate the stories they are "presented" with as a consequence of an in built antagonism of everytrhing to do with Israel. At a meeting at the Israeli Government Press Office, frustration was expressed in cases where the local reporters had filed a fair report of events, only to have them twisted around by the editorial staff at the home base before printing.

Posted by Haifadiarist on 2008-05-30 10:21:26 GMT

This is news indeed when a hoax unleashed so many deaths and so much racism. Helen Demidenko's racist book and her many lies were grand news all over Austalia and across the literary establishment outside Australia.yet she caused far less damage. Where are SBS and the ABC? Come out you cowards!!!!

Posted by Fiona on 2008-05-30 04:39:28 GMT,7340,L-3549532,00.html

Posted on 2008-05-30 03:11:05 GMT Most of us will remember the dreadful news footage a father trying to hide his son while Israeli bullets hit all around. Watching the child die and a feeling of hopelessness mixed with anger. Yesterdays press told us that film was staged. The death did not happen that way, it could not have. Truth died too a victim of hate lies once again as harmfully as an ak47 could ever be. Can we ever believe anything the Media says? In the middle east the answer would have to be with great care only. While far away from that hurting part of the world and maybe not driven by the same hate Australian Media , all of it lies to make a story. But the element behind this story lie as a weapon and are driven by hate without end how do we trust future news storys from them?

Posted by Belly on 2008-05-30 02:52:55 GMT

It is a tall order to expect Israel, not known for its P.R skills nor from assorted Jewish organizations in diaspora to marshal the resources to battle this well oiled onslaught. Many of these groups get seeded with petro-dollars, leftist money-grants from various EU organizations, universities diverting funds, or even the endless daily attacks on the Biased Broadcasting Corporation. This war can have momentary victories, like the brave few who fought in the "Palsi De Justice" in Paris, but in general the initiative has to come from Israel, being more forcefully reactive, emerging out of decades of coma. Try to check Dany Seamna, yediot Achronot today. he manages the "Government of Israel Press Office", he woke up today, after years of sleep, perhaps because Olmert is in such a state that he feels he can emerge out of the Foxhole and make his mark. I belive that by banning the BBC as an example from operating in Israel, or refusing entry to Robert Fisk and a few other British trouble makers, like the BBC butch reporter who cried when the rotting corpse of Araft was flown to burial, or the Italian bureau chief who wrote a letter of apology to the PLO for showing them tossing the bodies of Israeli reservists being tossed out of a window in Ramallah, a ban for say 10 years, could make a statement. Make them think twice. better yet, refuse entry to Jimmy Carter.

Posted on 2008-05-30 01:42:50 GMT

I wouldn't get too paranoic about antisemitism, it appears among some people in some places and is differentially applied to some Jews. There are many French Jews who are pro-Israel and yet do not feel antisemitism and feel comfortable in France. However we should be able to make political capitol on the issue, showing up the press and the pro-Palestinian groups. This would be difficult given that the press is our main vehicle of attack and we are asking it to criticise itself. If well handled it could be used to cast doubts on the whole handling of the Israel issue by the press. It requires careful and intelligent handling, Israel is not the only issue incorrectly reported by the press. The trend is to sensationalism rather than information.

Posted by Peter on 2008-05-30 01:02:04 GMT

Here is a story that can confirm my earlier comment:

Posted on 2008-05-29 23:26:16 GMT

It is ironic that Jews become the enabler of this meises. Today we saw on the radioactive T.V hosted daily Amy Goodman, the 1 million dollars/year rabbi's daughter, of Democracy Now, interviewing the psychopath "Prof" Finkelstein, who was finally refused entry to Israel. The entire Durah job was done by a French Jew and an Israeli citizen. French T.V stands on good ground, they can enjoy being Israel haters (a fashionable cover for hating Jews in Europe, where they say we are against Zionism, not against Jews) and claim that a senior Jewish correspondent provided the report. How can they question him? It is a known fact that behind the most toxic actions against Israel hide prominent Jewish intellectuals in the U.S, G.B, France and Israel.

Posted on 2008-05-29 17:28:56 GMT

Brilliant article and it's about time! It makes you wonder how many other unscrupulous, journalists are willing to distort the facts to back their own agendas! Now let's watch the rabid Israel haters bash Akerman for taking this non-PC stance.

Posted by Dee on 2008-05-29 11:41:38 GMT