Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Court backs claim that al-Dura killing was staged

The second French channel lost its case against Philippe Karsenty, who accused the station of staging its report on the death of Mohammad al-Dura.
Click here for article in Hebrew

The eleventh chamber of the Paris appeals court discharged today Philippe Karsenty in a libel suit launched by French TV after Karsenty claimed the station and its correspondent in the Middle-East Charles Enderlin broadcasted a staged report on the death of Mohammad Al-Dura on September 30, 2000.

The disturbing images of the al-Dura incident were shown around the world, raising a storm of controversy. In the France-2 report, the boy and his father were crouching in front of a wall amid an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants at the Netzarim junction in Gaza. The report shows the father Jamal al-Dura gesturing to try to stop the shooting - then cuts to a shot of the boy lying on his father's lap, with Enderlin saying he was killed by Israeli fire.

In November 2004, Phillipe Karsenty wrote on his website Media Ratings that al-Dura's death had been staged, accusing Charles Enderlin - who was not on location during the clashes - of using images doctored by his Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahma for propaganda purposes.
The French station sued Karsenty and won a first trial in 2006. But Karsenty appealed the decision and the second trial turned to his advantage when the judge asked to view the rushes.

Karsenty defended his case in a February 2008 hearing, saying the footage doesn’t show the boy getting killed. He provided a bullet report from a French ballistics expert, indicating the shots fired over the al-Duras came from the Palestinian position and he pointed out that several scenes before the al-Dura incident appeared staged.
The judge agreed in that hearing that some scenes did not seem genuine.

However, Enderlin insisted that the images were no different from the clashes he had witnessed repeatedly and the prosecution reminded the court that a dead Palestinian boy had been buried after the Netzarim junction incident and that Jamal al-Dura gave his consent for DNA tests that could prove the boy was his son.

No official from France 2 or Charles Enderlin appeared in court on Wednesday. The station announced it will apeal the ruling.

“This is the victory of truth against the lies broadcasted by France 2. The honour of France has been saved,” Karsenty told me.
Speaking to reporters in the courthouse, Karsenty called on France 2 to apologise officially and on the evening news. “This is a victory French society over lies,” he added.

“France 2 must recognise its mistake! If it does not do so, it will bear responsibility for the hatred and incitement launched by this report.”

“Incitement against Israel, Jews and the West in the Muslim world must stop! This hatred led to violence and the death of Daniel Pearl.”

Karsenty told me that the fact that Israel kept its distances and did not support his position complicated his defense strategy.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Iran stars anti-nuclear rally

Iran was the guest of honour in a French anti-nuclear meeting this weekend… No one was really interested except the Israeli press which mentioned the incident, reported by the Iranian news agency IRNA.

The Iranian ambassador Ali Ahani – also known as the only official in Paris who ignores Israeli journalists at press conferences - was invited to deliver a speech at the third ‘International rally for nuclear, chemical and biological disarmament’.

Addressing the local audience, Ahani said “Iran was the biggest victim of weapons of mass destruction” during its conflict with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and accused Israel of being “a major threat to world peace”. He denounced France, Britain, the US, Russia and Germany for trying to halt Tehran’s nuclear program. Two other Iranian diplomats participated in the event, along with a Cuban and two Vietnamese embassy advisers.

The event was in fact organised by an anti-nuclear association, Citizen action for nuclear dismantling, in the western town of Saintes, and not in Paris, as reported in the Israeli press. This detail is quite significant, since the town’s relative isolation explains how the Iranian diplomat turned out to be the star of the show.

The organisers flooded the capital’s embassies with invitations. But as expected, no serious official could take the time and travel to Saintes for a militant conference. No official except the Iranian ambassador and his colleagues who figured this could be a good opportunity for some PR activity.

The organisers, who present their meeting as “international”, were relieved and proud to host an ambassador and perhaps didn’t fully seize the controversial and ironic character of their ‘pacifist’ rally.

“World leaders meet in big capitals. We, the militants, gather in our home towns!” the association wrote on its internet site.
“Saintes may only have 30.000 inhabitants, but we don’t need to be millions to know what billions want: peace, justice and life!”
The French media did not cover or even mention the event, but the Iranian news agency turned it into an important conference.
The same day (Saturday), the French Parliament hosted a meeting on nuclear disarmament - but no Iranian official had been invited.