Thirteen years ago today, state-run France 2 television committed an unconscionable act of fraud. France 2 aired edited images that allegedly depicted the Israeli army intentionally murdering a Palestinian child, Mohammed al-Dura. That “murder” turned out to be a fabrication. France 2’s reporter Charles Enderlin staged it amid a real gun battle. The propaganda value of France 2’s manipulation soon spread far and wide. Al Qaeda used the al-Dura story to justify the brutal murder of journalist Daniel Pearl. Al-Dura’s image was put on postage stamps and became a justification for acts of violence against Israel and the West.
Beginning in 2002, French media critic Phillippe Karsenty started to expose France 2’s fraud. Karsenty soon found himself in court.
Unfortunately, France 2 and Charles Enderlin (the reporter who edited and narrated the Dura story) responded to his critique not by commending Mr. Karsenty and correcting their work, but by suing him for libel.
After viewing raw footage proving the false reporting, an appeals court dismissed their suit. France 2 and Mr. Enderlin, instead of dropping the matter, then appealed that decision to the Court de Cassation, France’s highest court. It overruled the appeals court on a technicality (that the raw footage should not have been admitted as evidence) and fined Mr. Karsenty €10,001.
That verdict remains outrageous and unfair. Truth is no defense against propagandists in French courts, which should deeply shock every person of conscience. There is one bit of good news today, though, which is that the Middle East Forum has paid the fine on Karsenty’s behalf.
It shouldn’t have had to, obviously. Nothing Karsenty has said about the al-Dura matter has been proven false; on the contrary, the facts fully vindicate him and indict the media and Islamist propagandists. But at least Karsenty is not alone, and will not have to pay the outrageous fine himself.