learn about the Story and Verdict in only 2 inspired minutes:
- Was France-2's Al Dura movie a brave revelation of an Israeli brutality, or an irresponsible distribution of one more false Palestinian accusation of Israel with a murder it never committed? If the latter, it is the most powerful blood libel of the 21st century.
- For years the world believed to the short France-2 film.
- Now the Paris Court of Appeals acknowledged in its verdict the evidence collected by experts in these years negating the France-2 film's adequacy. This is a breakthrough. It is legitimate now to call the Palestinian-made France-2 film a "totally staged fake", a forgery".
- The crucial question: will this truth spread in the world as widely as the libel did? The answer may have historical impacts.
Let's recall the beginning of the story: on 30 September 2000 all honest people on earth watched with horror a short video on TV, showing a Palestinian boy - seemingly - dying from gunshots in his father's lap, in Gaza. France-2 state TV reporter Charles Enderlin's voiceover asserted (though, as it turned out, he had not been present at the event and leant exclusively on the sole eye-witness Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahmeh who sold the video to France 2) that after a crossfire between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, the shots, which he said killed the boy, came from the Israelis, implying it was deliberate.
France-2 gave the video gratis to hundreds of TV stations and thus the story spread across the world like wildfire. The Al-Dura images, together with France2's accusation against Israel, became the most powerful icons of hatred in decades against Israel and the Jews. Hundreds of innocent people were killed in the upheavals incited, Jewish American-French journalist Daniel Pearl was beheaded live on video, as revenge for Al Durra.
Hundreds of millions of credulous honest people around the world also believed the accusation. A European Nobel laureate and many other famous intellectuals compared Israel to Nazi Germany, referring to the Al Dura tragedy.
The Al-Durra Story had from the beginning all the ingredients of humankind's greatest epics: a tragic story, full of doubts and mysteries, may be not true at all, however influencing the life of masses of people and even mainstream history; beyond logic and beyond imagination.
By time experts from the whole world collected evidence that this Al-Dura film was not authentic, but heavily edited, probably totally staged.
The raw footage behind the one minute long icon known to the world could have spilled light on the truth about the Al Durra case, but in all these years France 2 refused to make the raw footage public, but sued and frightened out all the critics and even doubters, instead. Until French journalist and public figure, Philippe Karsenty accepted the challenge and since 2004 has stood in the court as defender versus France 2 suing him of libel.
On November 14, 2007 the reason of France 2's obstinate secrecy became clear. Upon the court's demand the raw footage, actually a France2-selected 18 minutes long part only of the known 27 minutes, was presented in the courtroom. The judges and we the audience didn't see one single frame supporting France-2's Al-Dura film and their statements. Some omission, editing and staging became absolutely obvious.
Until the day of the verdict, 21 May 2008, eight years of growing doubts and four years of legal fight in Paris courts between the giant France 2 state television and young journalist Philippe Karsenty have passed.
During the last two hearings, on November 14, 2007 and on 27 this February, there were tumultuous scenes, strict gendarmerie cordons and shouting, pain and frustrations of the public for two hours before the door of the courtroom opened, and half of the waiting crowd couldn't get inside, representatives of global networks among them. But, sometimes such crises have their roles in great stories; they bring up some hidden truths afloat.
On February 27th the presiding Judge Trebucq transferred the hearing to another room, with all the complication involved, only to admit a bit larger audience; a really considerate gesture. The hearing started two hours late at 3 P.M. and lasted until 10 P.M., because Judge Trebucq gave unlimited time to all speakers.
Even more telling was the judge's attitude at the previous hearing, on November 14, 2007, when the announcement of the first public screening of France 2's until then hidden raw footage attracted a huge crowd hours before the official time of the hearing. We saw a small woman carrying chairs to the courtroom to add a few rows at the end of Room 11, in order to accommodate more people of the public. Nobody in the queue could help her - if one left his place in the solid mass of the queue, he had no chance to get back there.
When the hearing started that woman turned out to be the President of the panel of three judges, Her Honor Laurence Trebucq. I thought then that she gave a great example how a true public servant should act. I told my colleagues then that such a judge would have the courage to stand up for justice even against al odds, like pressures of the 'etablissiment', clearly present around this trial since its beginning in 2004.
The verdict had been anticipated in huge tension, but today Charles Enderlin and France-2 were absent. They obviously knew they lost the case. Enderlin has lost in the last year much of his previous great prestige as a reliable expert on Palestinian and Israeli matters and become suspicious to be, in the best case, a credulous victim of a Palestinian fraud. But of course the defendant, Philippe Karsenty and many others were there; including experts and media activists who had contributed to revealing the truth and citizens from all over Europe, the US and Israel who came to Paris to watch the court proceedings - and today the verdict - from close.
The Verdict: On 21st May, 2008, at 1:55 P.M. the panel of judges of the Paris Court of Appeal, presided by Judge Ms. Laurence Trebucq, rendered the short verdict that:
- Philippe Karsenty is NOT GUILTY.
Though the full judgement will be published in at least 3-4 workdays only, I spoke with two involved French lawyers still in the Palais de Justice (one of them just read parts of the judgement) and they explained the meanings of the verdict so:
- This verdict means much more than PK is "not guilty". It also means that Karsenty's harsh criticism of France 2's film, in 2004 and ever since that the film was a 'fake', a 'forgery', 'totally staged' - hasn't been libelous, but legitimate.
- This also means that the court recognized that the F-2 Al-Dura film, using the heart-breaking image of the frightened and, as if, dying 12-year old boy - based solely on a heavily edited film and testimony of the Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahmeh, the sole eye-witness - is NOT a reliable source.
- An important detail is that in the full judgment document (to be published only later) the court accepted the argumentation of Karsenty's lawyer that journalistic productions prepared under totalitarian regimes, like Hamas, where people are regularly killed after short street tribunals for their views, are inherently less reliable and must be scrutinized before accepted as proofs.
- This verdict, most importantly, also means that Israel is not guilty; again, like in the Jenin accusations, in the staged libel about the Gaza-beach tragedy, in the 'apartheid wall' fabrications, and in many other co-productions of Pallywood, the Palestinian ‘news industry' and some greedy Western media.
- And, worst of all, this verdict also means that France-2 and Charles Enderlin AREGUILTY; at least of negligence, of distributing such a capital accusation without due or even minimum checking. Later, when the fraud became growingly obvious, France-2 of Director Arlette Chabot added insult to injury by suing the critics and keeping the evidence, the raw footage, hidden so long. This was certainly not a mistake already, but arrogance, if not obstruction of justice, by a monopolistic state TV.
The future? In Paris, the city where Captain Dreyfuss was unjustly sentenced twice and rehabilitated much later, TV France 2 may also become from the accuser of yesterday to the accused libelous party tomorrow; for disseminating its fake Muhammad Al-Durrah movie and unfounded libelous accusations without due diligence done. Will the government of Israel do this?
Even more important and urgent now is the dissemination of the truth revealed about the Al Dura forgery. If mainstream media won't do this willingly, we who know now the truth have to urge them to do so, for example by our Letters to the Editors.
But why? Why to pursue this story after so many years? Because the event's importance, even after seven and half years, can not be overestimated. The world should understand that today the Al-Durrah movie represents not the century's worst brutality by Israel but the century's biggest and most devastating libel by its adversaries.
The remaining most important question now is: will this truth spread in the world as widely as the libel did? People must know it. The media have to correct their literally lethal libelous mistakes and rebuild their morality. France-2 already announced their intention to turn to the highest possible forum, the French High Court of Justice. This may be a great opportunity to seek more publicity. We have to demand such publicity; it may have historical impacts, this time to the positive. Remember Dreyfuss.
*by Endre Mozes, of Take-A-Pen
** The name Al Dura is written in many forms, incl. al Dura, al-Dura, Al Dura, Al Durra, Al Durrah and more.
***Multilingual Al-Dura material (in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Finnish, Hungarian, Swedish, Dutch, Danish etc) can be found on: http://www.takeapen.org
Note: For fast & easy overview of The Al-Dura Story and Verdict one can watch the seemingly light-minded 2 minutes long animated cartoon by Take-A-Pen, the recent one is: Who "killed" the kid? - The Al-Durra Verdict, on YouTube and on http://www.takeapen.org