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Monday, September 17, 2007

IDF to counter al-Dura blood libel?

After seven years of silence in the face of the blood libel that it murdered Muhammed al-Dura, the IDF has apparently begun to wake up, and is demanding to see the entire uncut France 2 television tape to determine whether al-Dura's death was faked.
On September 10, the deputy commander of the IDF's Spokesman's Office, Col. Shlomi Am-Shalom, submitted a letter to the France 2 television network's permanent correspondent in Israel, Charles Enderlin, regarding Enderlin's story from September 30, 2000, in which he televised 55 seconds of edited footage from the Netzarim junction in the central Gaza Strip purporting to show IDF forces shooting and killing 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura.

...

In his letter, Am-Shalom asked for the entire unedited 27-minute film that was shot by France 2's Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu-Rahma that day, as well as the footage filmed by Abu-Rahma on October 1, 2000. Am-Shalom requested that the broadcast-quality films be sent to his office no later than September 15. France 2 has yet to hand over the requested film.
The request is being made against the backdrop of Phillipe Karsenty's appeal of an October 2006 judgment by a French court against him and in favor of Enderlin and France 2. What I find most curious about this piece is the IDF's claim that they have demanded the tape before. I wish they had told someone that!
Last year, France 2 and Enderlin sued Karsenty, who runs the Internet media watchdog Web site Media Ratings, for defamation for a letter he sent out in 2004 accusing France 2 of staging the al-Dura story.

Karsenty also called for the resignations of Enderlin and of France 2's news director, Arlette Chabot, for their roles in promulgating the alleged hoax.

In October 2006 a French court decided in favor of France 2 and Enderlin, and against Karsenty.

The court acknowledged that Karsenty had submitted significant evidence indicating that the event had been staged. Still, in ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, the judges said Karsenty's accusations lacked credibility because, it claimed, he had based his accusations on a single source.

The court also stressed that "no Israeli authority, neither the army - which is nonetheless most affected, nor the Justice [Ministry] has ever accorded the slightest credit to [Karsenty's] allegations" regarding the authenticity of the France 2 report.

In his letter to Enderlin, Am-Shalom disputes the judges' assertion. "It is my duty to note," he wrote, "[that their claim] does not correspond to repeated attempts made by the IDF to receive the filmed materials, and with the conclusions of the IDF's committee of inquiry [into the purported shooting] that were widely publicized in the international and French media."

Am-Shalom has discussed at length the findings of the IDF's probe into the incident. That inquiry was ordered by then-OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yom Tov Samia.

Citing Samia, Am-Shalom wrote, "The general has made clear that from an analysis of all the data from the scene, including the location of the IDF position, the trajectory of the bullets, the location of the father [Jamal al-Dura] and the son behind an obstacle, the cadence of the bullet fire, the angle at which the bullets penetrated the wall behind the father and his son, and the hours of the events, we can rule out with the greatest certainty the possibility that the gunfire that apparently harmed the boy and his father was fired by IDF soldiers, who were at the time located only inside their fixed position [at the junction]."

Am-Shalom further notes that "Gen. Samia emphasized to me that all his attempts to receive the filmed material for the purpose of his inquiry were rejected."
So why suddenly now? Well, the French court of appeals has asked the IDF to comment on the Karsenty verdict. I'm not quite sure why. It could be because the court has a bit more sense of responsibility than the lower court had. It could be because of the change of government in France, with the Sarcozy government being much more open to Israel than the Chirac government was. I cannot say, and the two biggest experts on the subject, Richard Landes and Nidra Poller, have not weighed in on the subject yet. But in any event it's a positive development even if it is likely to be too little too late to change the minds of the leftists and the mainstream media. The date in the appellate court in France is Wednesday. The IDF finally seems to be waking up:
The IDF is in urgent need of the footage, Am-Shalom said, because "it has been asked to comment on the ruling [against Karsenty] from October 19, 2006, on this issue, which is scheduled to be discussed in a French appellate court on September 19."

"Since we are cognizant of the fact that there have been attempts to stage media events, and since doubt has been raised along these lines regarding the story under discussion, we asked to receive the aforementioned materials in order to conclude this episode and to get to the truth," Am-Shalom said.
I hope that whether or not France 2 responds, a representative of the IDF will be in court in Paris on Wednesday, and if France 2 has not responded or responds negatively, they should seek a court order to see the film and have sufficient time to review it and submit papers before judgment is rendered.

For those with little background on al-Dura, I suggest that you at least read this post by Richard Landes about the al-Dura case's continuing impact on Arab terrorism, and watch the video below.

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