by Richard Landes
The Al Durah Affair goes far beyond what happened at Netzarim Junction on September 30, 2000, but it begins there, and what happened or did not happen, really matters. We may not be able to say with decisive certainty what happened, but there are certain statements about what did not happen, about which we can be fairly certain.
The significance of what we can say about the events and their record that day, however, have enormous implications not only for the subsequent, damaging developments, but also for the search for answers to what can be done about this continuing dynamic. For the Palestinians, Muhammad is “the martyr of the world,” because “the whole world saw him.” And in the framework of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim culture in the 21st century, that martyr cult has fed a cult of death that threatens the very fabric of a decent society. And without Charles Enderlin’s participation, this ominous development would have had a massively reduced impact, and the school of lethal journalism that has dominated news reporting ever since might have had a more robust opposition.
This site, therefore, contains sections on the key dimensions of the case, on both its micro and macro levels.
- For the events of the day, we offer background, then focus on the relationship between the evidence available and Charles Enderlin’s journalistic narrative. In an evidence section, we present the key (largely video) evidence with comment. In an analytic section, we examine the evidence critically, in terms of how it either supports or clashes with the journalistic narrative that “the whole world saw” – the Israelis killing a defenseless, pitiable child.
- In 2004, the debates created around this affair reached the point where critics accused Enderlin and France2 of disseminating false information as news, and they responded by accusing their critics of defaming their honor. The Legal Case examines these trials, in particular the one that has pitted Charles Enderlin and Philippe Karsenty in a head-to-head conflict.
- Finally we offer a consideration of both the short-term and long-term consequences, with sections on the media role, the immediate responses to the news report in the Palestinian, Arab, Western and Israeli public spheres, and the longer-range impact on the Middle East conflict and the role journalism has played in that conflict after Al Durah.