The name “Mohammed Al Dura” has become synonymous with Palestinian “martydom,” thanks to the deceptive news coverage of French government-owned television network France 2 that broadcast the image of the cowering 12-year-old Palestinian boy with the false claim he was killed by Israeli soldiers. (See CAMERA’s backgrounder, “Anatomy of a French Media Scandal“) The video clip of an apparent crossfire between Israelis and Palestinians was filmed by the network’s Palestinian cameraman, Talal Abu Rahman, with voice-over by its Jerusalem bureau chief, Charles Enderlin, who attributed the mortal shots to Israel. It has become apparent that Enderlin’s attribution was false. Questions have even been raised about the authenticity of the scene. But as more and more people challenge the public television network and its journalists of manipulating the facts, France 2 has responded with defensive lies and threats of lawsuit.
Rather than admitting its guilt in broadcasting the original Enderlin report, France 2 is mired in a deceptive cover-up. The network has recently added a new false claim to the arsenal of lies it repeatedly employs to fend off criticism of its fraudulent news coverage of Al Dura. In an email response to a viewer’s query about the Al Dura affair, France 2 falsely alleged that an “authoritative American opinion” by the US government “discredits” the IDF investigation concluding that Al Dura was not killed by Israeli bullets.
According to the email response by France 2’s Viewer Relations representative:
In March 2001 France 2 found the following authoritative American opinion about General Samia’s re-enactment:
STATE DEPARTMENT COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES: ROAD MAP FOR BUDGETING OF DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAMS OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT
Â« The most blatant example of obfuscation is on the killing of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Durra, whose killing was captured on video. The report mentions the IDF investigation, but neglects to mention that the so-called investigation was completely discredited. The investigation was initiated by two civilian volunteers with no experience in ballistics or rules of engagement, who approach the IDF with a theory that the killing of al-Durra was staged by Palestinians, including his father, who they claim were working with the French TV crew whose videotape was seen worldwide. Even the Israeli chief of staff, Shaul Mofaz, disassociated himself from this investigation. Congress should ask how such blatantly misleading information was allowed to stay in the report. Â»
The email attributed the statement to “House of Representatives, Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, Committee on International Relations, Washington, DC, 7 March 2001.”
But France 2’s quote was neither by Congress nor by the State Department– it was from the less-than-objective testimony to congress about the Country Reports by none other than Carlos Salinas, Acting Director for Government Relations, Amnesty International USA.
According to a August 26, 2004 NGO Monitor report, “Asleep at the Wheel: Comparing the Performance of Human Rights NGO’s on Sudan and Arab-Israeli Issues“, during the period in which Amnesty International delivered the above “testimony” to Congress— a time when the human rights group had already become well aware of the atrocities taking place in the Sudan—Amnesty International allocated most of its resources to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the period (March 7, 2001 to October 13, 2001) in which AI produced only 7 reports on the Sudan, it published and released 39 reports on “Israel/Occupied Territories,” the vast majority consisting of one-sided condemnations of Israel, including charges of “war crimes” – a term rarely used with respect to Sudan. While ignoring the large-scale and systematic bombing and destruction of Sudanese villages, AI issued numerous condemnations and criticism of Israel.
That the French government-sponsored network falsely masquerades inaccurate testimony from a biased source as “authoratiative American opinion” by a U.S. Congressional committee adds just one more piece of evidence to the growing body that indicates France 2 has completely abandoned any pretense of journalistic integrity.