Thanks to Snaphanen
November 24, 2006
November 11, 2006
November 2, 2006
October 25, 2006
Last Thursday a French court found Philippe Karsenty guilty of libeling
France 2 television network and its Jerusalem bureau chief Charles Enderlin.
Karsenty, who runs a media watchdog Web site called Media Matters, called
for Enderlin and his boss Arlette Chabot to be sacked for their September
30, 2000 televised report alleging that IDF forces had killed 12-year-old
Muhammad al-Dura at Netzarim junction in Gaza that day.
Their lawsuit against Karsenty was the first of three lawsuits that Enderlin
and France 2 filed against French Jews who accused them in various ways of
manufacturing a blood libel against Israel by purposely distorting the
events at Netzarim junction that day. The second trial, against Pierre
Lurcat, is set to begin this week. Lurcat organized a mass demonstration
against France 2 on October 2, 2002 after the broadcast of a German
television documentary film by Esther Schapira called Three Bullets and a
Dead Child: Who Shot Muhammad al-Dura? Schapira’s film concludes that IDF
bullets could not have killed Dura.
September 30, 2000 was the third day of the Palestinian jihad. That day an
IDF position at Netzarim junction was attacked by Palestinian Authority
security forces. A prolonged exchange of fire ensued. That afternoon, France
2’s Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahma submitted footage of a man and a
boy at the junction cowering behind a barrel. The two were later identified
as Jamal al-Dura and his 12-year-old son Muhammad. Enderlin, who had not
been present at the scene, took Rahma’s 27 minutes of raw footage and
narrated a 50-second film in which he accused the IDF of having shot and
killed the boy. Enderlin’s film itself does not show the boy dying. There
are no blood stains where the boy and his father were crouched. No ambulance
came to evacuate them. No autopsy was performed on Muhammad’s body.
FRANCE 2 distributed its film free of charge to anyone who wanted it –
although not the full 27 minutes that Rahma filmed.
The film was shown repeatedly worldwide and particularly on Arab television
networks. The results of the footage were murderous. On October 12, two IDF
reservists, Yosef Avrahami and Vadim Novesche, were lynched by a mob at a PA
police station in Ramallah. The mob invoked Dura’s death as a justification
for its barbarism. The Orr Commission which investigated the violent rioting
by Israeli Arabs in October 2000 stated in its final report that “Muhammad
al-Dura’s picture, which was distributed by the media, was one of the causes
that led people in the Arab sector to take to the streets on October 1,
Countless suicide bombers and other Palestinian terrorists have cited Dura
as a justification of their crimes. For the past six years PA television has
continuously aired a film showing Dura in heaven beckoning other Palestinian
children to “martyr” themselves by becoming terrorists and join him there.
The Palestinians are not the only ones who have used Dura as a terrorist
recruitment tool. He is prominently featured in al-Qaida recruitment videos
and on Hizbullah banners. Daniel Pearl’s murderers interspersed their video
of his beheading with the France 2 film. Throughout Europe, and particularly
in France, Muslims have used Dura as a rallying cry in their attacks against
Jews – attacks which broke out shortly after the Dura film was broadcast.
AT FIRST, Israel accepted responsibility for Dura’s death without conducting
an investigation. Yet, in the weeks that followed the event, engineers Nahum
Shachaf and Yosef Doriel conducted investigations on behalf of the IDF’s
Both men separately proved mathematically and physically that the IDF forces
on the ground could not see the Duras from their position and that it was
physically impossible for their bullets to have killed Muhammad. Then OC
Southern Command Maj.-Gen.Yom Tov Samia held a news conference in late
November based on their findings at which he said that the probability that
the IDF had killed Dura was low.
Yet Samia was the only senior Israeli official to question the veracity of
the film. Then chief of General Staff Shaul Mofaz disavowed Samia’s
investigation. Prime minister Ehud Barak never questioned the veracity of
Enderlin’s murderous accusation against the IDF.
In the intervening years, private researchers and media organizations have
taken it upon themselves to investigate what happened that day. Their
findings have shown that at a minimum, the probability that the IDF killed
Dura is minuscule and more likely, the event was either staged or edited to
engender the conclusion that Dura had been killed by Israel. The few people
who have been allowed to watch Rahma’s entire film have stated that it is
impossible to conclude that Muhammad was killed because he raises his head
and props himself up on his elbow after he was supposedly shot.
Respected media organizations like The Wall Street Journal, CBS News,
Atlantic Monthly and Commentary magazine have published detailed
investigations that all conclude that the footage was either staged or
simply edited to show something that didn’t happen.
Yet, even as private individuals were dedicating their time and passion to
proving that France 2 had purposely broadcast a blood libel against Israel
that caused the death and injury of Israelis and Jews throughout the world
and marred the honor of the IDF, official Israel remained silent.
The Foreign Ministry never asked France 2 to show its officials the full
27-minute film. Neither the IDF nor the Foreign or Justice Ministries
defended the IDF or called into question the veracity of Enderlin’s film. As
late as this past June 23, IDF spokeswoman Brig.-Gen. Miri Regev told
Haaretz, “I cannot determine whether the IDF is or is not responsible for
the killing of al-Dura.”
IN THE French judicial system, the people’s interest is represented by a
special court reporter who recommends verdicts to the judges. It is rare for
judges to disregard the reporter’s recommendations. During his trial,
Karsenty and his witnesses produced piece after piece of evidence that
called into question the credibility of the France 2 film.
For its part, France 2 sent no representatives to the trial. Its attorney
did not question any of the evidence submitted by Karsenty nor did she
cross-examine any of his witnesses. She brought no witnesses of her own. She
simply produced a letter of support for France 2 from President Jacques
Chirac. The court reporter recommended dismissing the case.
In their judgment last week, the judges argued that Karsenty’s allegations
against Enderlin and France 2 could not be credible since “no Israeli
authority, neither the army which is nonetheless most affected, nor the
Justice [Ministry] have ever accorded the slightest credit to these
allegations” regarding the mendacity of the Dura film.
Over the years Israeli officials have justified their silence by saying that
it was a losing proposition to reopen the Dura case. We’ll be accused of
blaming the victim, they said.
This statement is both cowardly and irresponsible. As the French verdict
shows, without an Israeli protest, the protests of private individuals,
however substantial, ring hollow. When Israel refuses to defend itself from
blood libels, it gives silent license to attacks against Israel and world
Jewry in the name of those libels.
In 2000, Barak was desperately trying to close a peace deal with Yasser
Arafat. The last thing he wanted was to admit that Arafat was promulgating
blood libels against Israel. So he was silent. This is unforgivable, but
Israel’s continued silence is a sign that Israeli officialdom has still not
understood what the war of images demands of it. The Dura film, like the
fictional massacre of Lebanese children at Kafr Kana in Lebanon this summer,
shows that victory or defeat in wars is today largely determined on
television. To win, Israel must go on the offensive and attack untruthful,
distorted images that are used to justify the killing of Israelis and Jews
throughout the world.
When Karsenty heard the court’s verdict last week, he said, “If this
judgment is upheld, Jews should ask themselves questions about their future
in France. Justice covers the anti-Semitic lies of a public channel. It’s a
strong signal, it is very severe.”
To this it should be added that if the Israeli government continues to be
silent as the good name of the IDF, of Israel and of the Jewish people is
dragged through the mud by distorted television images broadcast by foreign
news outlets; if the Israeli government does nothing to defend those who are
persecuted for fighting against these distortions, then Jews will have to
ask themselves some questions about how on earth we are supposed to defend
ourselves, let alone win this war against those who seek our destruction.
October 18, 2006
|On Tuesday, a Reuters cameraman was remanded to prison until trial for his part in rock-throwing attacks on security forces in Bil’in, where the separation fence is a constant target of protesters.|
|The cameraman, Imad Muhammad Intisar Boghnat, was arrested and charged as a result of violent riots in the Arab village of Bil’in, in the Modi’in region, on October 6, 2006. A videotape that the prosecution presented to the judge shows Boghnat encouraging and directing rioters in Bil’in to throw large chunks of rock at Israeli vehicles in such a way as to cause maximum damage. The accused is heard shouting, “Throw, throw!” and later, “Throw towards the little window!”
The judge of the Judea-area military court who issued the remand order, Major Amir Dahan, called the case “borderline” for pre-trial imprisonment, but he noted that the alternative of house arrest was not wise, as Boghnat is a resident of Bil’in.
“That village is a constant source of conflict and the respondent [Boghnat] should not again be placed in such a dilemma, lest he again, Heaven forbid, disgrace himself,” the judge wrote in his decision. In addition, Maj. Dahan emphasized that “above all, the accused must be cut off from camera work in tense and sensitive locales where disturbances take place.” Security forces must also have easy access to Boghnat, the judge said.
Suggesting a possible explanation for Boghnat’s behavior, Maj. Dahan wrote that the criminal act in question may have been perpetrated “out of the desire to mollify the villagers who know him, rather than acting as he normally does, as has been preliminarily proven, as a purely objective cameraman.”
In accordance with the military court’s decision, Boghnat’s case will be heard at the earliest possible opportunity.
October 17, 2006
September 20, 2006
Sept. 16: Headline “The Vatican Pope insults Islam.” It shows Jesus saying to Pope Benedict XVI: “With your words (speech) you have insulted me as did the Jews…” The Pope has in his hand the Jewish snake of strife.
September 6, 2006
Thanks to the JAWA Report
Now on the bloggroll
August 30, 2006
Does the mainstream press ever wonder why conservatives distrust them so much?
If so, they need look no further than the “fauxtography” scandals of the last couple of weeks. Conservative bloggers have been hard at work sniffing out suspected fakery and staging in the photos sent back on the newswires from the Israel/Hezbollah conflict, and the investigation got pretty smelly.
First, there was Reutersgate….
August 19, 2006
Amid the controversy over certain pictures from Lebanon, a longtime student of war photography asks, “I’m not sure if the craft I love is being murdered, committing suicide, or both.”
By David D. Perlmutter
(August 17, 2006) — The Israeli-Hezbollah war has left many dead bodies, ruined towns, and wobbling politicians in its wake, but the media historian of the future may also count as one more victim the profession of photojournalism. In twenty years of researching and teaching about the art and trade and doing photo-documentary work, I have never witnessed or heard of such a wave of attacks on the people who take news pictures and on the basic premise that nonfiction news photo- and videography is possible.
I’m not sure, however, if the craft I love is being murdered, committing suicide, or both.
Perhaps it would be more reassuring if the enemy at the gates was a familiar one—politicians, or maybe radio talk show hosts. But the photojournalist standing on the crumbling ramparts of her once proud citadel now sees the vandal army charging for the sack led by “zombietime,” “The Jawa Report,” “Powerline,” “Little Green Footballs,” “confederateyankee,” and many others.
In each case, these bloggers have engaged in the kind of probing, contextual, fact-based (if occasionally speculative) media criticism I have always asked of my students. And the results have been devastating: news photos and video shown to be miscaptioned, radically altered, or staged (and worse, re-staged) for the camera. Surely “green helmet guy,” “double smoke,” “the missiles that were actually flares,” “the wedding mannequin from nowhere,” the “magical burning Koran,” the “little girl who actually fell off a swing” and “keep filming!” will now enter the pantheon of shame of photojournalism.
A few photo-illusions are probably due to the lust for the most sensational or striking-looking image—that is, more aesthetic bias than political prejudice. Also, many photographers know that war victims are money shots and some will break the rules of the profession to cash in. But true as well is that local stringers and visiting anchors alike seem to have succumbed either to lens-enabled Stockholm syndrome or accepted being the uncredited Hezbollah staff photographer so as to be able to file stories and images in militia-controlled areas.
It does not help that certain news organizations have acted like government officials or corporate officers trying to squash a scandal. The visual historian in me revolts when an ABC producer informs me that Reuters “deleted all 920 images” by the stringer who produced the “Beirut double smoke” image and is “less than willing to talk about it.” Can you say “18-minute gap,” anyone?
There is one great irony here. From a historical perspective, this is the golden age of photojournalistic ethics. In previous eras wild retouching, rearranging, cutting of images and even staging and restaging of events for the camera were commonly accepted in the trade. As someone who has written a history of images of war, I can testify there is more honesty in war photography today than ever in the past in any medium or any war–but there is, of course, much more scrutiny as well.
The main point is that we are now at a social, political and technological crossroads for media—amateur, industrial, and all points and persons in between. First, we live in Photoshop-CGI culture. People are accustomed to watching the amazing special effects of modern movies, where it seems any scene that can be imagined can be pixilated into appearing photorealistic. On our desktop, many of us are photoshopping our lives, manipulating family photos with ease.
In addition, in a digital-Internet-satellite age, any image on the Web can be altered by anyone into any new image and there is no “original,” as in a negative, to prove which was first. The icons are sacred no longer. Finally, there are the bloggers: the visual or word journalist is not only overseen by a familiar hierarchy of editors or producers but by many independents who will scan, query, trade observations, and blast what they think is an error or manipulation to the entire world.
News picture-making media organizations have two paths of possible response to this unnerving new situation. First, they can stonewall, deny, delete, dismiss, counter-slur, or ignore the problem. To some extent, this is what is happening now and, ethical consideration aside, such a strategy is the practical equivalent of taking extra photos of the deck chairs on the Titanic.
The second, much more painful option, is to implement your ideals, the ones we still teach in journalism school. Admit mistakes right away. Correct them with as much fanfare and surface area as you devoted to the original image. Create task forces and investigating panels. Don’t delete archives but publish them along with detailed descriptions of what went wrong. Attend to your critics and diversify the sources of imagery, or better yet be brave enough to refuse to show any images of scenes in which you are being told what to show. I would even love to see special inserts or mini-documentaries on how to spot photo bias or photo fakery—in other words, be as transparent, unarrogant, and responsive as you expect those you cover to be.
The stakes are high. Democracy is based on the premise that it is acceptable for people to believe that some politicians or news media are lying to them; democracy collapses when the public believes that everybody in government and the press is lying to them.
And what of future victims of war? Will the public deny them their sorrows because we will dismiss all smoking rubble and dead children as mere digital propaganda?
Photojournalism must live, but not if its practitioners and owners are determined to jump into the abyss.
David D. Perlmutter (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies & Research at the University of Kansas¿s School of Journalism & Mass Communications. He is author of “Visions of War, Photojournalism and Foreign Policy,” and a book of documentary photography, “Policing the Media.”