A win and a loss in media bias cases

A great morale-boost was granted to Israel yesterday when a French court acquitted an Israeli doctor of slandering a Palestinian in the Mohammed al-Dura case.

For those who do not remember, Mohammed al-Dura became one of the abiding icons of the violent Second Intifada when he was apparently shot dead by IDF troops while cowering behind his father.

His killing became a rallying cry for Palestinians and their supporters, in particular terrorist supporters and their Western fellow-travellers in academia and the media. He became a cudgel with which to beat Israel about its murderous ways and abuse of children, war crimes, and almost every other evil on earth.

The “killing” was eventually exposed as a hoax by Richard Landes, Philippe Karsenty and others.  (h/t CiFWatch which has extensive coverage of the Al Dura affair here).  None of this exposure and rebuttal has stopped the Israel-haters from continuing with their libel.

This is why this acquittal is so important and is such a moral victory for Israel as well as for the individual doctor in the case.

The French Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted an Israeli doctor accused of slandering a Palestinian man who claimed he was injured by the IDF during the second intifada.

The Palestinian man, Jamal al-Dura, and his 12-year-old son Muhammad, became the symbol of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, when the two were caught in a fire exchange in the Netzarim Junction. The boy was killed in the incident, triggering a blame game: The Palestinians accused Israel for Muhammad’s death, while Israeli officials claimed he was hit by Palestinian fire.

The father, who survived the ordeal, relayed his version before the media, showing the scars that he incurred in the incident. The claim prompted Dr. Yehuda David of Tel Hashomer Hospital to reveal that the scars were actually a result of a surgery the father had performed years earlier, after al-Dura was attacked by Hamas operatives who suspected him of collaborating with Israel.

Al-Dura decided to sue David, and last year a Paris court ruled against the doctor due to the fact he released information from al-Dura’s medical records. He was ordered to compensate al-Dura with €13,000, but decided to appeal the ruling at the French Supreme Court.

“It couldn’t have turned out better,” David told Ynet after the ruling was overturned. “It means that I spoke the truth, and the father just lied.

“We managed to deconstruct their false statements. All the scientific evidence that we collected for the past 12 years proves that the incident was staged and fake. They made up the father’s injury, and the IDF troops never shot the boy.”

Biased BBC

Biased BBC

Unfortunately, pro-Israel activists have not been so lucky in their dealings with the BBC.  In 2004, after many complaints and pressure from Jewish and pro-Israel activists that the BBC’s coverage of Israel, particularly during the Intifada, was biased against Israel, the BBC opened an investigation and produced a report known as the Balen Report. However the results of that investigation have never been made public, leading us to presume that the findings were not in favour of the BBC.

A British Jewish lawyer, Steven Sugar, sued the BBC to publish the Balen Report and it has been winding its way through the courts ever since. Yesterday, the Supreme Court finally issued its verdict – that the BBC may keep the report private.

The Supreme Court will not force the BBC to reveal a report commission into potentially biased reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The court’s five justices unanimously dismissed the appeal of solicitor Steven Sugar, who had demanded the BBC release the internal 2004 report, compiled by the BBC’s senior editorial consultant Malcolm Balen, under the Freedom of Information Act.

Mr Sugar, described as a “respected solicitor and supporter of the s tate of Israel”, had fought the case since 2005. He died of cancer in January last year. His widow, psychologist Fiona Paveley and Mr Sugar’s former firm, Forsters, took on the case.

The BBC had argued it was exempt from releasing the report because it was “for the purposes of journalism, literature or art.”

Lord Wilson ruled that if information was held “predominantly” for the purposes of journalism, it was outside the scope of the act, and he judged that to be the case with the Balen Report.

They dismissed the argument of appellant barrister Tim Eicke QC, that the withholding of information would violate the European Convention on Human Rights Article 10, the right to receive and impart information.

The BBC said in a statement: “We welcome the Supreme Court’s judgment, which upholds the rulings of other courts in this case, and will ensure that the BBC is afforded the space to conduct its journalistic activities freely.

“Independent journalism requires honest and open internal debate free from external pressures. This ruling enables us to continue to do that.”

The Information Tribunal ruled in Mr Sugar’s favour in 2005, ordering the BBC to release the report. But the decision was overturned by the High Court, and upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The BBC’s claim that this decision will enable “honest and open internal debate free from external pressures” almost made me choke.   The Beeb is so politically correct that it practically turns itself into a pretzel in order not to offend the “right” (i.e. wrong) people, while having no compunction in misreporting on and misrepresenting Israel. Their chutzpah knows no bounds and the Supreme Court’s decision remains a mystery to me.

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9 Responses to A win and a loss in media bias cases

  1. Pingback: The Times of Israel | Anne's Opinions

  2. Rob says:

    My take on al Dura. I posted this on Lisa Goldman’s blog last year, and to which I got no adequate response:

    A rueful ‘thanks’ for the (implied) ‘intelligent’, Lisa. Bear with me, please.

    My problem, I guess, is that having seen the rushes a couple of times, it seemed to me pretty well inconceivable that the IDF would have spent 45 minutes firing at a father and son, as claimed by Abu Rahma, who were invisible, being concealed behind a concrete barrel, and who posed no possible threat to them. I suppose if you subscribe to the theory that nothing is too vile for the IDF, you could buy it, but otherwise it’s not so easy.

    At the same time, as the rushes show clearly, any number of Palestinian kids were fronting up to the fence around the police post throwing rocks at it, and it was also being targeted with petrol bombs and burning tyres. There is no indication of fire from the police post and the kids went about their fun and games with complete impunity. That being so, why would the Israelis waste 45 minutes of ammunition on the invisible al-Durrahs?

    On the information available, I still believe that on that day of 30 September, 2000, out of sight and out of the line of fire of the local Israeli police post, Palestinian kids and some adults were playing games. They were acting out a series of tableaux for the benefit of attendant cameramen, who wanted library footage to accompany stories of ‘violent’ clashes in (then) occupied Gaza — film which they could safely retrieve from their databases and include as real-life footage, without having to venture into harm’s way to get it.

    One of them, a Palestinian stringer named Talal Abu Rahma, shot some footage of a boy and his father acting out the scene ‘crouching terrified under withering Israeli fire, boy then agonisingly killed’. He recognised its particularly powerful impact, notwithstanding it was staged, and sent it off to France2′s Jerusalem editor, Charles Enderlin, as coverage of a real event. Enderlin had it broadcast, the world picked it up, and the rest is history.

    It’s worth pointing out a couple of things in addition. The first is that two veteran French journalists at the appeal hearing testified that, on the basis of the footage shot by Abu Rahma, Enderlin had no valid journalistic reason for claiming on air that (a) the child was dead or (b) that the Israelis had killed him.

    The second is that when the appeal came on one of the Palestinian leaders was quoted by the BBC as saying, IIRC, that even if a Palestinian bullet had killed the boy it was still Israel that was culpable because without the occupation the incident at Netzarim junction would not have happened. I took that as (at least) a half-admission.

    Sorry to be so argumentative. But the alleged killing of al Durrah was a hoax, like the ‘genocide’ at Jenin and the ‘bombing’ of the ambulance at Qana. Not a conspiracy, then, but a simple lie.

    • anneinpt says:

      Rob, thanks for your excellent comment. Kol hakavod (all kudos) to you for posting that on Lisa Goldman’s blog. It’s not surprising that you didn’t get a proper response from her. She was probably struck speechless – after all, there is no adequate rebuttal to the truth.

      All the facts you state are what were claimed at the time by Israel anD the IDF, and afterwards by the other activists I mention in my post, but the lie was off and running all round the world and no one wants to hear the prosaic truth, especially since it exonerates Israel.

    • cba says:

      One other thing, which struck me at the time… take a look at the bullet holes on the wall. They’re almost perfectly round, indicating that they were fired pretty much perpendicular to the wall. If they’d come from the angle where the IDF were (even assuming the concrete barrel wasn’t there), then the bullet holes would have been elongated.

  3. Roxymuzak says:

    Over here in Limerick, Ireland, the baboons in the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Whatever have organised a boycott Israel gig for Tuesday. Limerick, not content with having the distinction of having the only pogrom against Jews in Ireland in 1904, is now hosting the 21st century equivalent of Judenhass.

    Alarmingly, the upcoming festival of thinly disguised anti-Semitism – similiar to the Nazi boycott of Jews in Germany 1933 – in the Treaty City is being promoted on some local newspapers.

    Usually, the above clowns are banished to the dark recesses of the internet to spew their hate and bile.. After a cursory visit to their deeply repellent website you’re left with a feeling that you’ve just visited a deranged and violent mental home where all logic has been turned on its head.

    These days, however, some local papers are granting them the oxygen of publicity so Limerick can shame itself again.

    • anneinpt says:

      I think it’s supposed to be Israel Apartheid Week this week or next – though it takes place over a whole month, because as Elder of Ziyon said, there’s too much hate to squeeze into just one week.

      Israel-hatred (the real name for anti-Zionism) has become the cause celebre du jour, very popular with the chatterati, and the media obviously want to make sure they are at the forefront because it helps their ratings.

      It’s all quite sickening as you say.

  4. Pingback: Only 13 years late, Israel officially refutes the Al-Dura hoax | Anne's Opinions

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