A French court has upheld a suit by journalist Phillipe Karsenty, ruling that a French documentary about him and the death of 12-year-old Muhammed Al-Dura in 2000 was defamatory and prejudiced.
Karsenty, a French media commentator, has now been twice vindicated in his fight against the France-2 television station’s version of the boy’s death. Karsenty was sued for libel in 2004 by France 2 for saying that the film of Al-Dura’s death, which accused Israeli forces of killing him, was distorted and false. Though the case is now being heard by the French Supreme Court, the status quo is that in May 2008, the Paris Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling against Karsenty from 2006.
In the weeks preceding the Paris Court of Appeals’ decision, an attempt was made to sway public opinion against Karsenty when private French television channel Canal + broadcast a documentary about the case. “The verdict found that the Canal + news documentary about the case was defamatory,” Karsenty wrote late last week, “and that the journalist who made it wasn't objective, even though he had access to all the necessary information to know the truth about the al Dura hoax.”
“Here are some statements that were made about me in the documentary,” Karsenty continued. “According to this film, I am - faking information, pressuring journalists to self-censor themselves, manipulating the information in order to promote extremist political views without any interest in the truth, using the internet to dupe, falsify facts and to serve a cause and promote a despicable ideology,” etc.
Though the original France 2 report claimed that Al-Dura was killed by Israeli gunfire, a subsequent investigation by Israel and additional footage showed the boy lifting his head, opening his eyes and lifting his arm after being pronounced dead. Though France 2’s Charles Enderlin said that these were was just the boy’s death throes, others said the boy was actually peeking at the camera in what was actually an elaborate ruse.
Some of the evidence proving that the France 2 version was inaccurate can be summed up as follows:
* The footage contains nothing indicating that Israeli soldiers shot al-Dura, neither in the 55 seconds broadcast around the globe nor in the 27 remaining minutes filmed by the Arab cameraman Abu-Rahma. No soldiers are in view, and in fact they were barricaded inside a building across the intersection.
* In fact, more evidence indicates that it was actually Arab bullets that killed the boy, if he was killed.
* The footage does not even include visual evidence that Al-Dura actually died. Though he collapses, the tape ends abruptly with the boy inert – though subsequent frames that were not broadcast show him moving (see above).
* Footage taken of Arabs in the same location [the Netzarim Junction] shows Arabs engaged in staging events. As Andrea Levin of CAMERA has written, “The French journalists who viewed the France 2 footage saw this as well, including repeated instances of Palestinians faking injuries followed by the immediate arrival of ambulances to carry away the pseudo-wounded.”
“This [latest court] outcome confirms that the French court system is the last great hope for justice in French society today,” Karsenty wrote. “The French courts are our only hope for justice to prevail over anti-Semitism… The French media continues to broadcast more and more anti-Semitic propaganda, and the French government doesn't seem willing to fight it effectively.” Hamas broadcasts have just been outlawed in France, however.
The Al-Dura case caused immeasurable damage to Israel at the time, and has been blamed for sparking much of the Oslo War's violence in which some 1,300 Israelis were murdered.