Powered by WebAds

Thursday, September 14, 2006

French on Fauxtography: Everyone does it

This is from one of Nidra Poller's background stories on the Al-Dura trial, which opened in France today:
French society has never examined the implications of the news report that served as the founding myth of a Palestinian war against Israel, the so-called “Al Aqsa Intifada,” enflamed in September 2000 by the “death” of Mohamed al-Dura and the wounding of his father Jamal, “targets,” according to Charles Enderlin, “of gunfire from the Israeli positions.” Debate has been stifled by the defensive reaction of Enderlin, his hierarchy and, apparently, the government itself. It is significant that in the absence of debate the myth will be “judged” in the narrow confines of a lawsuit, within the strictures of legal language and rules of evidence.

How could France 2 have taken the risk of losing the lawsuits against Philippe Karsenty and, at a later date, Pierre Lurçat and Charles Gouz? Did they single out three supposedly soft targets with the intention of silencing all those who are actively engaged in dismantling the myth, and discrediting them in the eyes of clear-minded people who are slowly discovering that the al-Dura news report is a fake?

Within minutes of the September 30, 2000 broadcast astute observers saw that something was awry. Different people in different places for a variety of reasons noted disparities between the image and the commentary. Something was fishy about this scoop that just happened to pop up when needed. Today, six years later, a significant body of documentation confirms that initial intuition. In fact, everyone seems to agree on the prevalence of staged news, but few are willing to draw the logical conclusion. They sideswipe the question. The three French journalists who saw Talal Abu Rahmeh’s outtakes have discredited the al-Dura news report and rejected Enderlin’s attempts to justify it as “corresponding to the general situation.” A doctoral candidate at the Institute of Political Studies (IEP) in Paris declared, in a thinly veiled apology for Enderlin published two days before the trial:

As for claims that Hizbullah and the Palestinians “stage scenes,” even if they are all confirmed it won’t change the fact that 4000 Palestinians and 1300 Lebanese, most of them civilians, have been felled by Israeli gunfire in the past six years…(Arnaud l’Enfant. “Israel and the media,” La Libre belgique, Sept. 12 2006)

Many journalists who are unashamedly hostile to Israel admit that the Palestinians produce falsified news but they find nothing to deplore in this practice—it’s simply propaganda, and everyone does it. A France 2 official acknowledged in the presence of news director Arlette Chabot, whose honor is allegedly sullied by Philippe Karsenty, that the Palestinians regularly enact fake battle scenes, some of which are reported as news in Western media.

All of these people freely admit that some, much, or even most of the material contained in the 27-minute video shot by Talal Abu Rahmeh at Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip on that fatal day are in fact staged scenes. (French journalists admit in private that the al-Dura scene, too, was staged; they say everyone knows it, no one will ever admit it publicly, this sort of revelation is totally and absolutely impossible in France, and besides it’s an old story and no one is interested.)

For four years Enderlin claimed to have absolute proof of the authenticity of the al-Dura report in the form of 27-minutes of footage, the golden outtakes, which he refused to make available for independent investigation. When Rosenzweig, Jeambar, and Leconte described, in articles and radio interviews, what they had seen, the golden outtakes were reduced, by reverse alchemy, to dross.

Enter the phlogiston theory of media integrity: the al-Dura outtakes are effectively composed of 27-minutes of staged scenes and one nugget of reality, a bit less than one minute by the clock, the “death” of Mohamed al Dura, the truth of which must not be contested. And there is no limit to the coercion, contortions, inventions, and distortions added to that skimpy minute of phlogiston-reality to make it hold.

Talal Abu Rahmeh was captured by another Palestinian stringer, working for Reuters, who shows him filming a staged scene. Common sense would reason that the France 2 cameraman knowingly filmed staged scenes at Netzarim Junction on 30 September 2000 and handed them over to his employers without any warning that they might be harmful to the health of media integrity. Given that the al-Dura death scene also seems, at first glance, to be staged, and further investigation by a variety of experts confirms that suspicion, it would be reasonable to conclude that the incident did not occur in any verifiable form that could qualify as appropriate material for a news report.

It is humanly impossible to prove that it did not occur.

Within, then, the realm of the possible it appears that Talal Abu Rahmeh is devious or unreliable, his immediate superior Charles Enderlin is complicit or incompetent, and news director Arlette Chabot is either ignorant or following orders from her superiors. Common sense would dictate that devious, complicit, and/or incompetent journalists should be fired.

Instead, we have a trial, an ordeal for the accused who must spend untold thousands of euros to defend himself against extravagant accusations brought by an alliance of individual journalists and a television network who are, in reality, the state. Obviously such a state of affairs precludes the slightest whimper of media watch. And what do the media do when no one is watching?
Read it all.


Post a Comment

<< Home