Melanie Phillips explores a modern-day blood libel that has caused innumerable actual deaths. “Faking a Killing,” in Standpoint, July 2008 (thanks to Dave):
On September 30 2000, two days after Ariel Sharon, then the leader of Israel’s opposition Likud Party, went for a walk on Temple Mount, Palestinians mounted a demonstration at Gaza’s Netzarim Junction. A 55-second piece of video footage of that demonstration, transmitted that day by the French TV station France 2, was to cause unprecedented violence in the Middle East and throughout the world.
The footage, with a voice-over by France 2’s Jerusalem correspondent, Charles Enderlin, showed what was said to be the killing of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura by Israeli marksmen. Viewers saw the child crouching in terror behind his father, Jamal, as they sheltered next to a barrel under what Enderlin said was Israeli gunfire, and then slumping to the ground as Enderlin pronounced that he was dead.
That image of the boy screaming in terror before being killed was uniquely incendiary. It portrayed the Israelis as diabolically gunning down a child in cold blood, even as he cowered for his life. It ignited the Arab and Muslim world with apparent proof that the Israelis were deliberately killing their children, inciting a murderous frenzy.
Al-Dura became a poster boy for the Palestinian and Islamist war against Israel and the West. The day after the France 2 broadcast, the second intifada erupted in its full fury; according to the 2001 Mitchell report, the two events were directly connected. Twelve days later, a mob of Palestinians shouting, “Revenge for the blood of Mohammed al-Dura” lynched two Israeli army reservists and dragged their mutilated bodies through the streets of Ramallah.
When al-Qaeda decapitated the journalist Daniel Pearl, the video of this atrocity was punctuated with references to al-Dura. After -September 11 2001, Osama bin Laden said: “Bush must not forget the -image of Mohammed al-Dura.” Several Arab countries issued postage stamps with his picture. On Palestinian Authority TV and in its school books, al-Dura’s example is used to encourage other children to emulate his spirit of “sacrifice”.
But we now know that this whole fiesta of violence and incitement was based on a lie. For whatever people think they saw in those 55 -seconds, it was not the death of that boy. He was not killed by Israeli bullets; he was not killed at all. At the end of France 2″s famous footage, he was still alive and unharmed. The whole thing was staged, a fantastic piece of play-acting, an elaborate fabrication designed to blacken Israel’s name, and incite the Arab and Muslim mobs to mass murder.
It was, in short, a modern-day blood libel, an updated version of the medieval calumny that the Jews target gentile children for murder “” which itself caused the murder of thousands of Jews over the centuries.
How do we know the footage was a lie? Because many of us have seen the evidence for ourselves in a French courtroom. Ironically, this blood libel was only exposed to public view because France 2 and its correspondent Enderlin brought a libel suit against a French media watchdog, Philippe Karsenty, for saying that the “killing” was “pure fiction” and that al-Dura wasn’t dead at all.
To begin with, a Paris court ruled in favour of the TV station. But in May this year, the appeal court ruled that Karsenty had every right to say what he said in the light of the evidence. This included the “inexplicable incoherence” of footage, whose images did not correspond to Enderlin’s commentary; the “inexplicable inconsistencies and contradictions” in Enderlin’s explanation; and the lack of credibility of France 2″s Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahma, upon whose -account of the events at Netzarim Enderlin “” who was in Jerusalem at the time “” had depended.
Read it all.