Friday, February 17, 2012

Dumb, Dumber and Dura-Dumb

Another incisive investigative blog by David Gertsman on how the media and even Israel's elite were bewitched by the images that were lies:

In October 2000, BBC reported:

For 45 minutes, Muhammad's father tried in vain to shield him from gunfire as they crouched against a concrete wall near Netzarim in the Gaza Strip.

The whole scene was caught on camera by a France 2 cameraman, and has been played repeatedly on Palestinian television.

The footage shows the boy's father, Jamal al-Durrah, waving desperately to Israeli troops, shouting: "Don't shoot". But the terrified boy is hit by four bullets, and collapses in his father's arms.

A few weeks later The New York Times reported, Israeli Army Says Palestinians May Have Shot Gaza Boy:

Today the army did not rule out the possibility that one of its soldiers had killed the boy. But General Samia said the army had ''great doubt'' that it was responsible and believed that the evidence indicated ''a very reasonable possibility'' that the boy ''was hit by Palestinian gunfire.''
But Palestinians reacted immediately and angrily.
Since the shooting, on Sept. 30, was filmed in excruciating detail by a France 2 television crew, the boy's death has become the dominant image of the conflict throughout the Arab world.

(An image released by the IDF soon after the shooting illustrated how unlikely it was that the IDF had shot al-Dura.)

In 2003, James Fallows wrote the definitive account of the doubts about the story.

Mohammed al-Dura and his father looked as if they were sheltering themselves against fire from the IDF outpost. In this they were successful. The films show that the barrel was between them and the Israeli guns. The line of sight from the IDF position to the pair was blocked by concrete. Conceivably, some other Israeli soldier was present and fired from some other angle, although there is no evidence of this and no one has ever raised it as a possibility; and there were Palestinians in all the other places, who would presumably have noticed the presence of additional IDF troops. From the one location where Israeli soldiers are known to have been, the only way to hit the boy would have been to shoot through the concrete barrel.

This brings us to the nature of the barrel. Its walls were just under two inches thick. On the test range investigators fired M-16 bullets at a similar barrel. Each bullet made an indentation only two fifths to four fifths of an inch deep. Penetrating the barrel would have required multiple hits on both sides of the barrel's wall. The videos of the shooting show fewer than ten indentations on the side of the barrel facing the IDF, indicating that at some point in the day's exchanges of fire the Israelis did shoot at the barrel. But photographs taken after the shooting show no damage of any kind on the side of the barrel facing the al-Duras—that is, no bullets went through.
In short, the physical evidence of the shooting was in all ways inconsistent with shots coming from the IDF outpost—and in all ways consistent with shots coming from someplace behind the France 2 cameraman, roughly in the location of the Pita. Making a positive case for who might have shot the boy was not the business of the investigators hired by the IDF. They simply wanted to determine whether the soldiers in the outpost were responsible. Because the investigation was overseen by the IDF and run wholly by Israelis, it stood no chance of being taken seriously in the Arab world. But its fundamental point—that the concrete barrel lay between the outpost and the boy, and no bullets had gone through the barrel—could be confirmed independently from news footage.

Then in 2008, media critic Philippe Karsenty won a dismissal of his conviction for defamation of Charles Enderlin and Channel 2 for their false report on Mohammed al-Dura.

More details to follow. But word from Paris is that the court dismissed charges against Philippe Karsenty today. Now we get to see how the French (and Western) MSM handle this. It’s a stunning victory for Karsenty and loss for Enderlin and France2 who initiated this case when they didn’t have to.

In order for an appeals court to reverse a decision, they must have strong evidence to the contrary.

The fact that they did indicates that their written decision will be very critical of France2. The implications of this decision are immense. We’ll be following up in the days, weeks and months to come.

Now one more deceit has been exposed. (via Daily Alert)

A French appeals court Wednesday overturned the libel conviction of Dr. David Yehuda, an Israeli physician who was sued by the father of Mohammed al-Dura, the boy whose shooting death in September 2000 became a powerful symbol of the second intifada. Jamal al-Dura had displayed to international media outlets scars on his body he claimed were caused by bullets fired by Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

In a 2008 interview with a French Jewish weekly, Dr. Yehuda, an orthopedic surgeon, said the scars were the result of an assault on Dura by Hamas militants who accused him of collaborating with Israel, as well as subsequent surgery performed by Yehuda himself in 1994.

The photos of the Duras, father and son, taking cover behind a barrel during an exchange of gunfire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza, remains one of the most enduring images of the second intifada. Israel initially apologized for the boy’s death but issued a retraction when subsequent investigations indicated the boy was most likely killed by Palestinian fire.

So now will media outlets - like the BBC and New York Times - acknowledge that they played a role in fanning the violence of the intifada by credulously spreading a false story instead of acting to debunk it? Will they acknowledge that they slandered Israel's army? Don't the media want us to know the truth?


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