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Media Analyses





The New York Times Buries al Dura Story


The New York Times buried on page 6 of the Business section (Section C) an important story (February 7, 2005) on the escalating scandal surrounding the facts of the infamous Muhammad al Dura episode. The case involved the alleged Israeli killing of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy and the severe wounding of his father at Gaza's Netzarim Junction in September 2000.

Then the Times buried in paragraph 26 the key finding of the article itself which is that two prominent French journalists reviewed footage of the event shot by France 2 televison and found there is no "definitive scene showing that the boy had died."

Additionally, the same journalists, Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte, refuted a central claim of the France 2 correspondent Charles Enderlin who reported the al Dura story. His longstanding defense regarding the scant, apparently truncated footage of the alleged killing had been that to show further images of the shooting and thus "the agony of the child" – was too "unbearable."

Jeambar and Leconte stated categorically that such images of the "agony" do not exist. That is, there are no scenes of a bloody and dying child and injured father in the 27 minutes of tape they reviewed of the scene despite Enderlin's repeated claims to the contrary.

Unmentioned at all in the Times story is the pair's statement in their article in the January 25 edition of Le Figaro that the 27 minutes, including footage taken just prior to the alleged shooting of al Dura, shows scenes in which the "Palestinians seem to be organizing a staged event. They 'play' at war with the Israelis and simulate, in most of the cases, imaginary injuries."

Jeambar and Leconte do not say the al Dura event was staged, nor do they say it was not.

The Times has done a service to bring the story to its readers, given the gravity of the consequences wrought by France 2's worldwide distribution of what became an iconic image of supposed Israeli brutality. Additionally, the story included photos that did give some prominence to the story for those who found it. But why the Business Section instead of the News pages and why not a story that presents prominently and completely all the latest information that triggered the report in the first place?

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Tunisian stamp, which says in French and Arabic "The Palestinian Martyr Child, Mahamed Doura"


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