FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 21, 2008
Richard Landes : 617-504-7837, firstname.lastname@example.org
Evidence Convinces Court to Dismiss France2's Case against Karsenty
The French justice system should be applauded for its wise decision today in the Mohammed al Durah affair. The court has set the record straight by finding Philippe Karsenty innocent of defamation for claiming that France2 aired staged footage in September 2000 during a report that falsely and maliciously portrayed the Israel Defense Forces targeting and killing a Palestinian child in the arms of his father.
The incident occurred at the onset of the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada. The court based its decision on the raw footage shot by Talal abu Rahmah, whose videos and reports from the field inspired Charles Enderlin's incendiary news broadcast. The implication of the court's decision was that that Karsenty had sufficient justification for accusing France2 of being duped by its Palestinian cameraman.
According to historian Professor Richard Landes, author of Second Draft and The Augean Stables, "This case highlights how distressingly easy it is to manipulate coverage of a story and how such manipulation can have worldwide and lasting impact, in this case directly fanning the flames of anti-Israel hatred throughout the Moslem world and Europe."
Immediately after the French2 story was aired, clips were shown repeatedly throughout the world, particularly in Moslem nations and in Europe. The broadcast of the alleged murder prompted anti-Israel riots and demonstrations and turned the child into an icon and martyr throughout the Moslem world. It also generated reverence for those who would commit violence against Israelis and Jews everywhere. The glorification of suicide terrorists who have become the bane of the 21st century became part of the al Durah narrative.
"Not only did France2 violate numerous principles of journalistic ethics in running the story as it did, but it added to these violations by blocking any reconsideration," Landes said. "As the evidence that contradicted every major contention in the aired report emerged, France2, as well as other mainstream media outlets in France, worked to prevent any correction from reaching the public.
"On the contrary, France2 attacked independent French citizens who had the temerity to criticize the TV station for their journalistic incompetence by suing them in court for defamation. In the asymmetrical warfare of global Jihad against the West, the 'weak' side treats the media of the 'strong' side as a theater of war, and no single case illustrates Western journalism's vulnerability to this kind of manipulation than the Al Durah affair," Landes said.
Click here to view France2's original, unedited footage in the court case and to examine the evidence the court used to make its decisions as well as Professor Landes' commentary. A transcript of the court's decision will be available publicly in the coming days.