The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned the award of one of Frances highest honors, the Legion dhonneur, to Charles Enderlin, Jerusalem bureau chief for France 2 Television, whose fabricated 2000 report popularized world-wide the hoax that Israeli forces deliberately killed the Palestinian boy Muhammad al-Durah. Enderlin, who is still France 2 Jerusalem bureau chief, was recently presented with the award by the French Consul-General in Jerusalem (Corinne Mellul, See No Evil, Haaretz, August 28, 2009).
Al-Durahs alleged death, in an incident which occurred at the Netzarim junction in Gaza on September 30, 2000 in the first days of the Palestinian terror wave against Israel, was filmed by a local Palestinian cameraman, Tala Abu Rahma, and a mere 55 seconds of selected footage from his 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 released to the world did not show Al-Durah being killed, let alone by Israeli forces. Yet, the broadcast, basing itself on Abu Rahmas words, claimed that the boy was shot by Israeli troops. Enderlins 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 IDF during a shoot-out with Palestinian Authority (PA) forces.
As a result of Enderlins report, Israel was subjected to waves of international criticism and innumerable acts of anti-Semitic violence occurred around the globe. It was cited by the murderers of the Wall Street Journals Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. Postage stamps bearing al-Durahs crouched image have been issued in Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia; a street in Baghdad and a square in Morocco bear his name, while many schools across the Arab world are named after him. His image has even been reproduced on a designer dress in Saudi Arabia. Palestinian Authority television has repeatedly aired a film showing al-Durah in heaven, beckoning other Palestinian children to martyr themselves by becoming terrorists so that they can join him in paradise.
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. 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. Throughout Europe, and particularly in France, Muslims have used al-Durah as a rallying cry in their attacks against Jews, which broke out shortly after Enderlins report was broadcast.
Respected media organizations like the Wall Street Journal, CBS News, Atlantic Monthly and Commentary magazine have all published detailed investigations that all concluded that the France-2 footage was either staged or simply edited to show something that did not happen, while an October 2002 German television documentary film by Esther Schapira, Three Bullets and a Dead Child: Who Shot Muhammad al-Durah? also concluded that IDF bullets could not have killed al-Durah. The baseless of Enderlins report also emerged publicly in May 2008 when the French Court of Appeals ruled in favor of journalist and media analyst Philippe Karsenty, who had exposed the inconsistencies and problems in Enderlins report and been sued by Enderlin in consequence for libel. 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. The ZOAs detailed description of the factual inaccuracies, unanswered questions and evidence unearthed since Enderlins report can be read here.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We are appalled but not surprised at the award of the Legion dhonneur to Charles Enderlin, a man who deserved to be condemned and barred from the journalistic profession for his false report on Al-Durah. Instead, France has shamelessly bestowed a high honor upon him.
Is Enderlin an example of honesty and integrity in journalism who deserves to be honored? Just to pose the question is to answer it.
It is important to recall that Enderlin has never apologized and never explained his part in creating a modern blood libel, nor has France ever launched an official investigation into the matter even when it became overwhelmingly clear that his Al-Durah report had been a fabrication. Rather than repair these omissions, the original offense is now compounded and a libeler honored. The award of the Legion dhonneur to Enderlin disgraces France.