Thanks to Barry Rubin for bringing this to my attention.
Charles Enderlin has received the Legion of Honor. Enderlin is the Jerusalem correspondent of the France 2 TV network who narrated the footage shot by a Palestinian cameraman which supposedly showed 12-year old Mohammad al-Dura shot to death by Israeli soldiers.
The film, shown all over the world, inflamed sentiment against Israel at the beginning of the second Intifada, and the event was used to ‘justify’ several murders, including the Ramallah lynching of two Israeli reservists and the beheading of Daniel Pearl.
Various investigations showed that it was impossible for al-Dura to have been hit by Israeli bullets, and pointed strongly to the conclusion that he had not been shot at all.
French media critic Philippe Karsenty called the film “a hoax”. Enderlin sued Karsenty for libel and won his initial suit primarily on the basis of a character reference from then-President Jacques Chirac. Karsenty appealed, and the verdict was overthrown:
On May 21, 2008, in a stunning reversal of the lower court’s verdict, the appeals decision was handed down. It cited “the contradictory answers given by Charles Enderlin to the questions relating to the editing of the film,” the “inexplicable inconsistencies of the viewable images,” and the “contradictory answers of [cameraman Talal Abu Rahma] on the issue of the sequence of the scenes and the conditions under which they were filmed.” It also noted “France 2’s persistent reluctance to allow the viewing of its cameraman’s rushes,” and Enderlin’s “imprudent claim that he edited out the images of the child’s agony.”
While the court could not say that Karsenty had definitively proven the broadcast to be a hoax, it did find that there was a “sufficient factual base” for the charges he had made.
But apparently, rather than damaging his career, the incident made him a hero.
Vive la France!