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|New twist in alleged al-Dura cover-up Karsenty: Al-Dura case is ’bigger than Dreyfus Affair’|
Full title : "New twist in alleged al-Dura cover-up Karsenty tells The Jewish State case is ’bigger than the Dreyfus affair’"
THE JEWISH STATE
A documentary released March 4 on German-owned TV station ARD attempts to prove that the notorious video of the killing of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura was a hoax, and could set two European allies on a collision course.
The 55-second video, shown on France 2 television on September 30, 2000, shows Muhammad huddling with his father, Jamal, unsuccessfully hiding from gunfire at the Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip. After Muhammad’s death, he was considered a martyr in the Arab world, appearing in everything from TV programs to postage stamps as a symbol of Palestinian suffering in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The video was used to fuel the Intifada.
In a letter to supporters released March 10, Philippe Karsenty, head of the French media watchdog group Media Ratings, describes five crucial pieces of evidence uncovered by the documentary that support the claim that the video was deliberately filmed as propaganda and knowingly aired as such by France 2 television: A biometric analysis of faces proves that Muhammad is not the boy presented at the Gaza morgue; a lip-reading technique revealed al-Dura instructing people standing behind the cameraman; the boy filmed by France 2 moves a red piece of cloth down his body for no apparent reason; there is no blood on Muhammad or his father when they were both supposed to have received a total of 15 bullets; and the body at Muhammad’s funeral arrived at the hospital before 10 a.m., whereas France 2’s footage was filmed after 2:30 p.m.
Two weeks after the German documentary aired,
"The relations between
The new documentary is getting support from
According to Karsenty, very little is being published in
That’s exactly what happened to Karsenty in November 2004. After years of advocating for the retraction of the video, he published an article accusing
"When German TV broadcasted a documentary in 2002, it said that the bullets were not from the Israeli side," Karsenty said. "They figure out he was killed by the Palestinian side. I thought it was shocking. I went all over
Israeli scientist Nahum Shahaf, who originally investigated the video, confirmed Karsenty’s suspicions several months into his work. This motivated Karsenty to investigate the video himself, and what he found was "shocking."
"I realized it was completely fiction," Karsenty said. "Everything was absurd in the film."
During the defamation trial, then-French President Jacques Chirac wrote a character testimony for French journalist Charles Enderlin, who originally edited, commented, and aired the piece. The testimony, Karsenty said, may have had very strong influence in a country with no real separation of powers.
"In French society, where powers aren’t separated, you don’t want to make your retirement too early," Karsenty quipped.
The French court ruled in favor of
"Instead of one hearing, which is typical, during the hearing, the judges realized there were problems," Karsenty said. "They asked the lawyers [for
Still wary of the video, the judges demanded to see all 27 minutes of video, but
"They deleted nine minutes of the most ridiculous part," Karsenty said. "Eighteen minutes were ridiculous enough."
The 18 minutes of footage showed "rehearsals" for other videos, including Palestinian children falling down and then getting up again, and people being escorted into ambulances, only to walk back out of them. Though that would leave nine minutes of video unaccounted for, Enderlin claimed there was no more video.
However, the courts determined that Muhammad was still alive at the end of the film, and in May 2008 reversed the defamation verdict against Karsenty.
"The trial was devastating for
The most crucial part for Karsenty was his victory in a court that had, through the government, an interest in seeing
Another facet to the controversy was the reaction of the American Jewish Committee’s representative in Paris, Valerie Hoffenberg. Karsenty, in a letter to supporters in May 2008, said Hoffenberg discouraged French officials from looking into the al-Dura affair, and even blocked access to Karsenty and others presenting evidence to discredit Enderlin’s video. AJCommittee responded with its own statement disputing Karsenty’s accusations. Karsenty raised the point that AJC’s statement was only in English for the domestic audience, in order to make AJC donors believe that their organization was on the right side of the picture. But, when asked to make a comment in French, their representative in
"They just wanted to protect their access to the French government," Karsenty told The Jewish State about AJCommittee. "Access is everything for them."
Almost a year after the ruling,
"Enderlin went all over the world and got influential people to cover the blood libel," Karsenty said. "He is the most respected French journalist in the
Karsenty said the fear of a financially and physically draining lawsuit from Enderlin and France 2 paralyzes other media throughout
"No... media published anything that the documentary was published, not even the Jewish weekly," Karsenty said. "The government succeeds well with controlling the media outlets in
What the French media ignores attracts international attention, and Karsenty takes up the offer. Karsenty has spoken in
"We win by making
Eight years after the original air date, Karsenty is still one of the sole voices in France who speaks outright about the al-Dura affair. He still wants an admission of fault from France 2 and Charles Enderlin, an apology he may never hear, but is determined to pursue.
"What’s important is that we were asked to prove that al-Dura is a hoax," Karsenty said. "Now we know it’s a hoax. When will the French government cease to support this lie? We have to fight them. I can lose a trial on a technical ground, but it doesn’t mean that I’m wrong."
© The Jewish State
Mis en ligne le 30 mars 2009, par