ZOA Supports French Jewish Community Call On Pres. Sarkozy To Launch Investigation Into Al-Durah Controversy
July 10, 2008

Sarkozy ignores anti-Semitic al-Durah lie




The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is supporting CRIF, the umbrella body of the French Jewish community, in calling on French President Nicolas Sarkozy to create an independent body to launch an investigation into the controversial television broadcast by France 2 TV of the alleged Israeli shooting of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Muhammad al-Durah, on September 30, 2000. CRIF’s call follows a May 2008 French Court of Appeals ruling in favor of journalist and media analyst Philippe Karsenty, overturning a lower court decision that he had libeled France 2 TV and its Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Charles Enderlin, when he accused them of broadcasting a staged scene and calling for the resignation of Enderlin and others responsible. The allegation of Israeli wrongdoing was fabricated and it is absolutely certain that the boy was neither injured nor killed during this filming as Enderlin stated in his broadcast. Therefore there was a disconnect between what was described and what actually happened. ZOA is deeply disappointed that President Sarkozy has thus far ignored the shocking revelation of the French television station’s wrongdoing, which has caused such great harm to Israel and the Jewish people. The ZOA has written to President Sarkozy, with a copy to the French Ambassador to the United States, to express its concern and disappointment and to urge the French president to take action.


Al-Durah’s alleged death was filmed by a local Palestinian cameraman, Tala Abu Rahma, and the mere 55 seconds of selected footage from his alleged 27 minutes of filming became the basis for a story by Enderlin, who had not been present on the scene at the time. The 55 seconds of footage shows al-Durah and his father seeking cover behind a concrete barrel and cowering from an alleged hail of bullets until the boy apparently “dies” and his father is severely wounded. The broadcast, basing itself on Abu Rahma’s words, claimed that the boy was shot by Israeli troops. Abu Rahma’s video showed al-Dura hiding, and then cut to footage of him lying, apparently dead, at the junction. It did not show the child killed. The broadcast, basing itself on Abu Rahma’s words, claimed that the boy was shot by Israeli troops. Enderlin’s story, which France-2 provided free of charge to the rest of the international media, led to world-wide accusations against Israel that the boy had been deliberately killed by the IDF during a 45-minute shoot-out with Palestinian Authority (PA) forces.


The edited 55-second al-Durah footage was shown repeatedly worldwide and particularly on Arab television networks, resulting in a wave of hatred and terror directed against Israel, Israelis and Jews. On October 12, two IDF soldiers, Yosef Avrahami and Vadim Novesche, who had mistakenly wandered into PA-controlled territory, were murdered at a PA police station in Ramallah, their bodies thrown from a second floor window to a mob below, disemboweled beyond recognition and their entrails passed around and literally chewed and swallowed. The mob invoked Durah’s death as a justification for its barbarism.

The Orr Commission, which investigated the violent rioting by Israeli Arabs in October 2000, concluded in its final report that “Muhammad al-Durra’s picture, which was distributed by the media, was one of the causes that led people in the Arab sector to take to the streets on October 1, 2000.” Also, the Mitchell report, drafted in May 2001 by a joint U.S.-European committee, also
noted that the al-Durah incident was one of the events that motivated Palestinian Arabs to launch brutal terrorist acts against Israeli civilians. Moreover, evidence that already came to light before the latest court case, and which indicates that al-Durah’s death did not occur, included the following:


·        The 55 seconds of Abu Rahma’s footage that was publicly broadcast does not show al-Durah dying or any bloodstains where the boy and his father were crouched, nor any ambulance evacuating them.

·        No autopsy was ever performed on Muhammad’s body.

·        In the weeks that followed the event, physicist Nahum Shachaf conducted investigations on behalf of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)’s Southern Command. Both men separately proved mathematically and physically that the IDF forces on the ground could not see al-Durah and his father from their outpost and that it was physically impossible for their bullets to have killed al-Durah.

·        3 hours of raw footage from Reuters and Associated Press taken in the vicinity at the time showed dozens of Palestinian boys attacking Israeli guards’ posts with stones, Molotov cocktails and projectiles, appliances etc. Yet, if the IDF had wanted to deliberately kill children, it could have easily done so, yet none were killed and al-Durah was the only one allegedly killed on the scene.

·        It is clear that al-Durah was not killed during the time the scene was filmed because an additional 10 seconds of film, widely distributed on the internet, shows him, following his alleged death, raising his elbow and right leg, turning his head and looking around furtively, then putting his head and elbow back in position, but leaving his leg suspended in the air (Joanna Chandler, ‘A New Dreyfus Affair,’ FrontPage Magazine, August 29, 2007).

·        Al-Durah’s father was allegedly wounded in the arm, elbow and leg – but no blood appears in the footage.

·        The cameraman, Talal Abu Rahma, claims that the IDF were firing for an astonishing 45 minutes at al-Durah and his father, which is not only absurd but, if true, would have resulted in many wounds, bloodstains and bullet marks that are simply not present in the footage.

·        The al-Durahs were sheltering themselves from gunfire behind a concrete barrel and were not visible to IDF soldiers in the guard post from which they were allegedly shot.  Furthermore, there were no bullet holes on the side of the barrel facing the al Durahs.

·        Respected media organizations like the Wall Street Journal, CBS News and Commentary magazine published detailed investigations that all concluded that the footage was either staged or simply edited to show something that did not happen.

·        In April 2002, a German television documentary film by Esther Schapira called Three Bullets and a Dead Child: Who Shot Muhammad al-Durah? was broadcast which concluded that IDF bullets could not have killed Al-Durah.


Until recently, much of the French media ignored the issue and the few French intellectuals who questioned the tape’s authenticity were branded extremists. The anticipated public debate following that ruling, which included an exhaustive court examination into Karsenty’s claims, was slow to make French headlines. It was partly silenced as well by a petition signed by more than 300 French journalists and intellectuals denouncing the Paris court’s decision for allowing “anyone” to “smear with impunity the honor and reputation of news professionals.” However, now the issue is back in the limelight, following editorials by left-leaning, respected figures such as Israel‘s former ambassador to France, Elie Barnavi, and the July 2 public appeal by CRIF to help crack the shell of what some have termed French “ideological and corporate protectionism” surrounding the issue.


Pierre-Andre Taguieff, the research director at France’s National Center of Scientific Research and the author of a new book, Judeophobie, analyzing repercussions of the al-Dura broadcast, says that, “The winds are turning … We’re evolving now toward a real debate …The al-Durah affair is one of the major affairs of the beginning of the 21st century …It has a symbolic strength that reminds a bit of something from the Dreyfus Affair, even if this is not an innocent man who is wrongly being accused — it is the Israeli army. And it is the Israelis who are being accused in the end of having killed a child in cold blood, almost with pleasure. The old anti-Jewish stereotype of the blood libel reappeared with the al-Dura affair, which is why it is extremely significant.”


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We join the French Jewish community in calling upon President Sarkozy to institute an independent full inquiry so that the facts can be clearly delineated and set before the international public that, it is already clear, was fed a fabrication from start to finish. It is long overdue to have a measure of justice in this long-running blood libel against Israel and by extension the Jewish people, which was targeted worldwide on account of this dishonest and false report purporting to show how a Palestinian Arab boy was allegedly murdered by Israeli soldiers. That can best be achieved by an official, independent inquiry.


“It was always deeply suspicious that France-2, if it truly believed its story to have been correct and truthful, refused till now to release the footage which ought to back up its case and instead attempted to silence and penalize those who, like Philippe Karsenty, had raised legitimate and searching questions about its story.


“This staging of a phony murder and lying about Israeli killings of Palestinians would be nothing new for the PA. It has been demonstrated on several occasions that the PA and other terrorist groups have deliberately staged propaganda incidents involving non-existent massacres, like the one that supposedly occurred at Jenin in April 2002 in which PA officials claimed that 5,000, then 1,000, then 500 Palestinian civilians had been killed. (In fact, 52 Palestinians, at least 30 of them combatants, were killed in the heart of a civilian area in a ground battle which also claimed the lives of 23 Israeli soldiers). The PA has been known to present live bodies as corpses and stage armed confrontations in collaboration with sympathetic media. Or, to give another example, the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah last year mounted an elaborate hoax in which an ambulance was made to appear as if it had been deliberately targeted by Israeli forces, only this hoax was quickly exposed. Or in June 2006, when a girl, Hoda Ghalia, was killed with six other members of her family on a Gaza beach in an explosion for which the PA accused Israel, although the IDF had not been conducting any operations in the area. It has also been reported that Palestinians have been filmed on stretchers taken to and from ambulances, with the supposed casualties then climbing off unhurt when the news cameras have left the scene.


“The al-Durah case is one among many that show the cynical, disgraceful and disgusting lengths to which Mahmoud Abbas’ PA will go to impugn Israel‘s integrity and tarnish its reputation in the world.”

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