CAMERA's Andrea Levin Criticizes The New York Times: Silence on Findings in France 2 Mohammed al-Dura Case Reveal Anti-Israel Bias

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Recently, the Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by Andrea Levin of CAMERA. In it, Levin criticized the New York Times for ignoring that a French court has called into serious question the television report by France 2 journalist Charles Enderlin which claimed to show a young Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, being shot to death by Israeli soldiers.

sow more anger and hate.

Recently, the Jerusalem Post published an important op-ed by Andrea Levin of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) entitled 'The Silence of The Times.' Levin criticized the New York Times for ignoring the fact that a French court has called into serious question the famous television report by France 2 journalist Charles Enderlin which claimed to show a young Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, being shot to death by Israeli soldiers as his father tried to shield him.

The Mohammed al-Dura case became a cause celebre in the Muslim world - for example, the terrorists who beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl cited the death of al-Dura as a justification for their heinous act. While the Times has failed to cover the startling new developments in the al-Dura story, it did put on its front page a report about students in Gaza who were unable to take up their Fulbright fellowships due to difficulties in getting out of the Hamas-controlled territory.

Levin criticizes this choice as imbalanced and of significant negative consequence. "The power of the New York Times is undeniable - even in an era of declining mainstream media influence," explains Levin. "What its editors choose to report still influences policymaking. It is significant that the New York Times is mute about this triumph for free speech in what has rightly been termed a blood libel against the State of Israel."

The Palestinian students' dilemma stirred the Times to extensive coverage beginning on May 30, triggering a diplomatic scramble in Washington and Jerusalem to enable the Fulbright winners to pursue their programs. A New York Times editorial on June 8 dubbed the students the "Fulbright Seven," applauded the "victory" of the official policy shift and - with a passing nod to Israel's security needs - lectured that country about measures that "sow more anger and hate."

At the same time, The New York Times afforded no coverage of the May 21 French court decision and its profound implications. As the Wall Street Journal editorialized on May 27, it is "hard to exaggerate the significance" of the court decision that "called the [al-Dura] story into doubt." The second Palestinian terrorist intifada against Israel costing hundreds of civilian Jewish lives, the slaying of Daniel Pearl, and numerous additional acts of terrorism cite the alleged death of 13-year old Mohammed al-Dura as motivation.

French media critic Philippe Karsenty had denounced France 2's al-Dura report as 'a faked death,' a 'hoax,' and 'a fraud;' and had in turn been sued by France 2 for defamation. However, Judge Laurence Trebucq concluded that Karsenty had not defamed France 2 in light of the accumulated evidence of multiple documentaries, articles and books that testify to gross dereliction and dishonesty by a veteran journalist, his cameraman and a prestigious French media institution.

Judge Trebucq saw the un-used September 30, 2000 footage from Netzarim Junction in Gaza - where the supposed al-Dura killing occurred - showing Palestinians staging injuries, casually faking falls, racing ambulances to bogus rescues. She enumerated the commentary of journalists, authors and scholars troubled by the contradictions and omissions concerning the Israeli military's line of fire with relation to the boy's location, the visible movement of the boy in the footage after being pronounced dead in the report, the questionable provenance of the injuries of the boy's father, the absence of blood in the wake of ostensibly blistering gunfire, Enderlin's manifestly deceptive claims about footage of the final moments of al-Dura's life and much more.

In the detailed court decision, Judge Trebucq cites the statements and prior testimony of many individuals who have investigated the Enderlin/Abu Rahma broadcast, including Luc Rosenzweig, former chief editor of Le Monde. The judge writes: "(Rosenzweig) concluded his testimony at the hearing in the lower court by stating his conviction that 'the theory that the scene (of the child's death) was faked was more probable than the version presented by France 2.' "

CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, is a national research, educational and activist organization that monitors media coverage of Israel and the Middle East, working to promote accurate, balanced and complete reporting. Knowing that public perception of events ultimately shapes public policy, CAMERA believes it is vital to ensure Americans are provided factual and fair portrayals of Israel. Many of CAMERA's 60,000 members actively participate in communicating the facts about Middle East issues to media outlets, encouraging sound coverage and countering error and bias. CAMERA also supplies accurate information directly to the public as well as to the media on key topics frequently in the news. The organization is not aligned with any political party, nor does it take positions on policy issues. For more information, please visit http://www.camera.org .

For Levin's full editorial "The Silence of The Times" and detailed history of the al-Dura affair, please visit the CAMERA web site at http://www.camera.org . To invite Andrea Levin as media commentator, please contact Isabel Smith at 818-762-4473.

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Isabel Smith
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David Mladinov

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