Ainit the truth! You work on a story for years, and the day you oversleep your mailbox spills over with breaking news. “Al Dura death was staged. It’s official.” Everybody and his brother gleefully informed me of the breaking news.
Dany Seaman, director of Israel’s Government Press Office–responding to a letter from chairwoman Nitzana Sarshan-Leitner, informing him that Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center intends to sue France 2 Jerusalem correspondent Charles Enderlin–declared officially that the France 2 al Dura report was staged. Shurat HaDin wants the GPO to cancel France 2 credentials unless and until the state-owned French TV channel turns over the raw footage as formally requested by Israeli army officials. Stopping short of this measure, in accordance with the recommendations of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, Seaman officially declared that the al Dura report was a hoax that had caused untold harm. The Prime Minister’s office-no surprise-has officially declared that it has made no official declaration on this issue.
As it happens, I got the scoop when I visited Dany in July. Here’s what I wrote:
The next day, a pleasant walk through Independence Park leads me to the Beit Agron Government Press Office and one of my favorite straight talkers, GPO chief Danny Seaman. My man hangs in there, warding off varied and sundry militants and freeloaders trying to wrangle press credentials, and resisting pressure from a Foreign Office that thinks giving-in is a way of making friends and influencing people. We go over the latest developments in Gaza, he deplores the wasted opportunity. ‘Israel should give Hamas an ultimatum, release Gilad Shalit in 5 days or we’ll cut off the electricity, shut down the water supply…’ The Foreign Press Association is already negotiating with Hamas -‘safe’ passage into Gaza in exchange for ‘fair’ coverage. And how about this zero-approved Israeli government? The left wing media and establishment won’t let Netanyahu win. It doesn’t even matter anymore. We need Giuliani in the US, Sarkozy in France, Merkel in Germany… They’re starving in Gaza? So why don’t they smuggle in food instead of weapons? Gaza will be the first successful Muslim Brotherhood country; all the surrounding Arab nations will be endangered if it succeeds. I leave with these and other words of wisdom, and a temporary GPO press card, renewable at each visit to Israel.
And here’s what I didn’t write:
Dany told me that Shurat HaDin is going to sue Enderlin for the al Dura hoax and the terrible damages it has entailed. Dany asked me not to publish information about the lawsuit until it was officially announced. Charles Enderlin, the France 2 Jerusalem correspondent who has been peddling and defending the al Dura hoax beyond belief, is known by his detractors in France as “Scoopy.” I kept my word, didn’t scoop the story, went about my business, and here it is, full blown and sweetly perfumed. Everyone who has worked on the al Dura affair knows there is no magic bullet. It is an intricate puzzle, and it will be put together by painstaking efforts from many directions. But recent developments, stimulated by Karsenty’s appeal of his 2006 conviction for defamation of Enderlin and France 2, are more than promising.
So, the first thing you want from me is a r√©sum√© of reactions in the French press. That’s easy. I heard an extensive account of the affair this morning on Juda√Øques FM.
What else is new?
A quick review of today’s reports of Seaman’s official declaration demonstrates the chilling success of the al Dura hoax: many journalists describe events at Netzarim Junction on September 30, 2000 as if they were an authentic context for a questionable incident. If and when the 27-minutes of raw footage is projected in the French appellate court (the court order will be issued tomorrow, PJ Media will be there), the whole truth will begin to emerge. September 30, 2007 was almost entirely staged!
Jamal al Dura and the boy identified as his son Mohamed were not caught in the middle of a relentless firefight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen and/or policemen; they were performing the lead roles in a day-long production organized to trigger the “al Aqsa Intifada.” The al Dura “death” scene is one of countless scenes staged that day. Raw footage shot by a Palestinian cameraman working for Reuters, turned over to Israeli physicist Nahum Shahaf, is available for viewing on the site created by historian Richard Landes. Landes, who has also viewed the 27-minutes of footage shot by Talal Abu Rahma, testifies that it is composed of approximately 24 minutes of the same type of staged scenes found in the Reuters tape.
It appears that there was one brief firefight between Israelis and Palestinians at the junction that day. The al Dura scene was not filmed during that episode.
As I explained in a Commentary article published in September 2005, distracted commentators maintain the authenticity of the al Dura “death” scene based on what they think they see in the scene itself, and what they have been led to imagine as its realistic context in a zone of fierce combat. They do not even examine, let alone question the narrative by which the al Dura story has been inserted into current events.
Countless journalists are describing the 27-minutes of raw footage as if it were–as Charles Enderlin has consistently claimed, as his cameraman declared under oath-27 minutes of the 45 minute ordeal of a man and a boy pinned down by Israeli gunfire. I saw raw footage of Esther Schapira’s interview with Talal Abu Rahma; the cameraman explains why the 55-second excerpt (from the 27-minute film of the 45-minute incident) looks as if it were filmed in real time. The dramatic gestures that engraved the al Dura’s on the world’s psyche-the crouching, the waving, the shouting in horror, etc.– says Abu Rahma, were repeated off and on throughout the 45-minute incident. Filmed intermittently, then mounted, they give the effect-he claimed-of a single incident in a 55-second time frame.
Charles Enderlin is defending his news report and his cameraman all the way down to the finish line. Far from cringing in horror at the thought of what the world will discover when the raw footage is projected, he is waving the V for victory:
“We plan to show the film in court in France, and I am certain it will end the repeated mudslinging.” (quoted in Ynetnews.com)
Has he already forgotten that last year’s three defamation trials were supposed to put the affair to sleep forever?
Your correspondent will be on the lookout for reactions in France …expect a long list of no-comments…