Here is a measure of how different the European discourse of Palestinian victimization is from what we talk about in the United States.
Yesterday in Paris, a French media analyst who argued that the French TV footage of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura being shot at in Gaza in 2000 was staged and that al-Dura was likely still alive was convicted of defaming the network.
But only last month, The New York Times credited a new Israeli government report that makes similar claims: the footage was staged and al-Dura may be still alive. The Times did so twice, in pieces by two Israelis, Isabel Kershner and Shmuel Rosner.
So what is judged false in France is presented as the possible truth by our leading newspaper, publishing Israeli writers. And at the core of the matter is: the credibility of Palestinians, in the American view.
Yesterday’s news, from the Guardian:
A French media analyst has been convicted of defamation for accusing a state television network of staging a video that depicted a Palestinian boy being killed in a firefight between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces.
The footage more than a decade ago galvanised anti-Israeli sentiment, and shaped perspectives of the Middle East conflict during the second Palestinian uprising. The al-Dura case has long stirred emotions in Israel, tapping into a larger sense of the Jewish state being victimised in the media.
The footage by France-2 broadcast on 30 September 2000, showed the terrified boy, Mohammed al-Dura, and his father amid a furious exchange of fire in the Gaza Strip. It then cut to the motionless boy slumped in his father’s lap. The report blamed Israeli forces for the death.
In a report issued in 2004, Philippe Karsenty said the footage was orchestrated and there was no proof that the boy had been killed.
France-2 sued for defamation, and after a long legal battle, a Paris court fined Karsenty €7,000 (£5,900).
The first report in the Times last month, by Isabel Kershner, was titled, “Israeli Report Casting New Doubts on Shooting in Gaza.” The second, by Shmuel Rosner, was titled, “The Skeptic’s Curse” and described Rosner’s doubting the Israeli government at first, and now believing its version. Neither piece quoted a Palestinian, though both mentioned, deep down in the accounts, that the boy’s father had offered to exhume Mohammed’s body so that his wounds could be analyzed.
The Israeli government review suggested, as other critics have, that the France 2 footage might have been staged. It noted anomalies like the apparent lack of blood in appropriate places at the scene, and said that raw footage from the seconds after the boy’s apparent death seem to show him raising his arm. The government review implies that the boy could still be alive today, but does not elaborate on where it thinks he might be.
according to the government report, “in the final scenes the boy is not dead.”