The Al-Dura Hoax

On September 30th, 2000, the state owned channel, France 2, aired footage of Mohammed al-Durra crouching and being protected by his father from fire allegedly coming from an Israeli position.  The voice over by France 2’s Charles Enderlin claimed that shortly after the scene captured in the video Mohammed was shot and killed.  The video became a symbol of the second intifada – Egypt and Tunisia issued postage stamps of the boy commemorating the incident, Egypt named a street in his honor, and suicide bombers invoked the boy as a martyr in videotaped farewells on their way to blow up Israeli civilians.  The video was used world wide to explain and justify the second intifada and put pressure on Israel to concentrate more on making concessions to Yasar Arafat than protecting her own citizens.  It became a standard in terrorist vocabulary and was invoked by the Ramallah mob that disemboweled two Israeli reservists, in Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 video, and in that of Daniel Pearl’s beheading.

Israel’s immediate response was to accept responsibility and issue an apology.  However, after performing an investigation the IDF determined that the shots could not have originated from their location and independent investigators confirmed this verdict.  A cloud of controversy engulfed the incident as the authenticity of the video and credibility of Monsieur Enderlin began to be questioned.  A French media critic, Philippe Karsenty, had the laudable courage to sue France 2 claiming that they fabricated the video and duped the French populace.

Charles Enderin who was not himself present at Netzarim Junction and relied on the footage and credibility of Palestinian camera man Talal Abu Rahma, defended himself vehemently and sued Philippe Karsenty for defaming France 2 and himself.  In 2006 a French court agreed with Enderlin and found Karsenty guilty.  Karsenty did not give up and appealed the decision.  Recently, amid growing evidence of the fabrication of the video (including inconsistencies in Enderin’s and Rahma’s testimonies and Enderlin’s refusal to provide the non existent parts of the video he earlier claimed to be proof of Israel’s guilt), on May 23, a French appeals court dismissed the libel suit against Karsenty finding that he was justified in calling out Enderin and France 2 for doctoring the video.

It is interesting to compare the world wide media reaction to the original announcement of the video in 2000 and the official verdict of its fabrication eight years later.  The former reminiscent of a starved mob running to a source of free food and the latter of crickets chirping in a field.  Kudos to the Wall Street Journal – the only international publication to post an article about the fabrication verdict!

Even if the verdict were noticed by all those who originally saw the Al-Dura video in 2000 and the anti-Israel propaganda techniques noted, it would have been too late for the Israeli citizens who were murdered by terrorists brainwashed by the video’s imagery.  As it stands, few have been alerted to the true nature of the video and the trend to incriminate Israel in reports and check their credibility later continues.

On July 2, 2008, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem driving a bulldozer went on a terror rampage on Jaffa street, randomly murdering three Jerusalem residents and wounding dozens by overturning crowded buses and crushing cars.  BBC’s headline for the article reporting this cowardly massacre, “Israel bulldozer driver shot dead”, implies that Israel’s police was at fault for killing this innocent man.  The caption below footage of the attack read, “Jerusalm bulldozer driver shot dead by security”.  Some would want to give BBC the benefit of the doubt (others familiar with their quality of reporting would not) and say that they hastily made the report before all of the evidence was available to them.  This would be a noble thought if the Jerusalem offices of the BBC were not on Jaffa street overlooking the scene of the massacre!  BBC later modified their headline but not before numerous readers were made to believe that Israel is the aggressor when in reality a terror act was carried out against her civilians.

As this trend to falsify reports to make Israel out to be the villain and correct them or not later continues, one may ask why is Israel singled out as the target of such media behavior?  I believe the answer to this question is the same as the answer to the following questions.  Why were Jews across Europe blamed for the spread of the Black Death in the fourteenth century?  Why had the Catholic church until a declaration in 1965 accused Jews of deicide?  Why did Russians under the Soviet Union accuse Jews of killing Lenin and then once communism was no longer in vogue in the nineties claim that Lenin himself was Jewish?  Why did the world look on as six million Jews were exterminated across Europe only sixty years ago?

Over the past two millennia, without a country of their own to stand up for them, Jews have been an easy scapegoat and incitement target for any body of power at a time when the authority of that body of power was being challenged.  The creation of Israel sixty years ago, by giving a voice to Jews world wide and providing them with a safe haven, was supposed to stop this world wide indiscriminate dumping of responsibility for undesirable events on Jews.  To a large extent it has succeeded in doing so, but its response to incidents like the Al-Dura one has not been steadfast or firm enough.

Many Israelis are so desperate for peace that they refuse to believe that their partners on the road to peace are capable of fabricating videos like the Al-Dura one in order to incite local and world wide agression towards Israel.  They convince themselves of this in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary and with the deep down knowledge of the truth.  T.S. Eliot once said that “humand kind cannot bear very much reality”.  The challenge for Israel and the world is to bear reality long enough to see through dirty tactics such as this one.


  1. Wall Street Journal-1
  2. Wall Street Journal-2
  3. Jerusalem Post – 1
  4. Jerusalem Post – 2
  5. New York Times
  6. Honest Reporting
  7. The Second Draft

3 Responses to “The Al-Dura Hoax”

  1. 1 sleepless in seattle July 14, 2008 at 6:26 am

    Thank you for bringing attention to the false video, as well as the imbalance in the media (both in regard to this video and to Israel, in general). Spreading the true story raises awareness to compensate for the irresponsible media.

  2. 2 wien1938 July 14, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    It is funny in a sense. Truth will out. A lie will become evident as the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion proved to be.
    We must be wary of believing a story that conforms to our prejudices.

  1. 1 Bookmarks about Knowledge Trackback on November 3, 2008 at 8:00 pm

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