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Thursday, September 20, 2007

The end of the Al-Dura controversy?

Muhamed al-Dura was a  central figure of the Palestinian violence that began in September 2000. He did not lead any soldiers, and he wasn't a politician. He was a twelve year old child. He was killed  by someone's gunfire. French television cameras filmed al-Dura as he died, sheltered unsuccessfully by his father. An edited version of the  films appeared to show that the Israelis had killed him. Palestinians insisted that Israeli fire killed the boy. An Israeli reconstruction claimed that it was impossible for Israeli fire to have reached him from that angle. Foreign bloggers, including Professor Richard Landes, insisted that the French television films were fabrications - "Pallywood." Al-Dura was important because he became the poster boy of the Intifadah - the symbol that could be used in the demonization of Israel, the little boy whose death could justify dozens of suicide bombings.  
Now at last a court has ruled that French television must show the films: Al-Dura footage to air. It is unlikely in my view that they will prove anything conclusively: films cannot do stop-action of bullets in the air or trace trajectories. If there was any real fakery, it will probably be edited out in such a way that it cannot be proven to have been edited out.
It doesn't make sense that either Israelis or Palestinians would kill this little boy, but it is certain apparently that he died nonetheless, and therefore someone killed him. We can't get to the bottom of this by looking for motive.
In any case, the outcome of the trial will have less effect very likely than proponents of the cause might think.The article quotes the somewhat optimistic Professor Landes:
"Yes, terrible damage has been done," Landes said, adding, however, that the world has become "much more receptive" to acknowledging hoaxes "like Kfar Qanna and Gaza beach,"
In fact, I would venture to say that most of the world believes that  Israel is culpable for the deaths in Kfar Qanna and Gaza Beach on purpose. HRW and similar groups certainly do. I would also say, in fact I know, that the faithful would not be influenced no matter what the outcome. By now, virtually the entire world, including the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, have understood and admitted that the stories of an Israeli massacre in Jenin in 2002, in which hundreds of Palestinians supposedly perished, were a fabrication. About fifty six people died there according to different counts, of whom about 22 were civilians who had either decided of their own free will to stay with the terrorists holed up in Jenin, or who were infirm and trapped in Jenin. That did not prevent Muhamed Bakri from making the film Jenin, Jenin, which fradulently portrays a massacre and  claims that an Israeli tank shelled a hospital. This film became a staple of Palestinian propaganda. Now a group of IDF soldiers are suing Bakri. Groups like other Israel invite us to defend Bakri. Far be it from me to understand what there might be to defend. He told a lie and should pay the consequences. It doesn't matter if the lie agrees or disagrees with the political opinion of X or Y. It is still a lie.
The persistence of belief in a flat earth attests that the will to believe can overcome the most obstinate set of facts.
Ami Isseroff


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