Monday, May 26, 2008

May 22 ‘Media Critique’: "Al-Dura Trial: Karsenty Wins in Paris”

Yet again we visit HonestReportings current favourite conspiracy – the shooting of Mohammed Al-Dura.

In what must be considered an exemplary display of mass stupidity, the story is all over the stridently pro-Israel blogosphere where a French courts over-turning of Phillip Karsenty’s libel conviction is being described as proving that “al- Dura [is] a hoax!’. No, it’s not. It’s a French courts interpretation of what constitutes libel under French law. The decision seems to be that Karsenty was deemed to have made good faith criticisms that could not be seen as libelous. Karsenty no longer has to pay his 1 Euro fine. Until the likely appeal.

Not that you can blame them. It’s certainly a good tactic to focus on a single prominent incident where doubt can be cultivated, and so ignore the pile of bodies where there is no doubt.

It’s worth remembering that Mohammed al-Dura died two days into the Second Intifada, and while HR and others like to pretend that this was the start of the violence, the truth is that by September 30, 2000, Israeli forces had already killed 8 unarmed Palestinians. Two years later the number of dead children was 270. Ha'aretz noted in October 2002,

IDF bullets killed 231 Palestinian children. That is, 85 percent of the children who were killed were shot. An accusation that has been appearing in all the reports published by human rights organizations in Israel and internationally is that IDF soldiers are "trigger-happy" and that during the suppression of demonstrations and various kinds of protest actions, in which children also participate, the IDF "employs exaggerated force that is deadly and disproportionate."

Israels apologists will continue to focus on any doubt they can, to ignore this reality. Take another uncontested example. You’ve probably never head of 7 yr old Sami Abu Jazzar. He died just 12 days after al-Dura. But it wasn’t filmed.

However, several field workers from Amnesty International did witness his murder,

On 10 October 2000 Amnesty International delegates witnessed the aftermath of a stone throwing demonstration in Rafah on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers shot at a crowd of some 400 people, mostly primary schoolchildren, who were throwing stones at an Israeli military post. Sami Fathi Abu Jazzar was shot in the head; a live bullet entered his forehead above his left eyebrow, went through the skull diagonally and exited at the back of his head. He died the following day, on the eve of his 12th birthday. Six other children were injured by live fire in the same incident. Amnesty International delegates, including an expert in riot policing, concluded that the lives of Israeli soldiers were not in danger and that their use of lethal force was unjustified, as their position was not only heavily fortified, but there were also two wire fences between the post and the stone throwers, who were some 200 metres away. - (‘Killing the Future: Children in the Line of Fire” AI, 30/9/2002)

Repeatedly, Israeli forces have demonstrated their complete disregard for the lives of unarmed Palestinian civilians, including children. Mohammed al-Dura wasn’t an icon or, unfortunately, anything terribly special. He was just one of a number, a number that now stands at almost 1000 Palestinian children killed since September 30, 2000.

The tactics of the pro-Israel lobby have always struck me as a cynical public relations campaign. I was recently reading how the tobacco industry approached the thorny problem of the facts of smoking in relation to human health. The following quote from one the most infamous memo’s produced by the tobacco lobby, immediately made me think of HonestReportings “al-Dura affair” and the tactics of the pro-Israel media campaigners in general,

Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.