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Pictures and Lies

September 27, 2007
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Seven years ago, the death of a Palestinian child rocked the world. Captured in a famous photo that was reprinted in virtually every newspaper across the globe, the agony of Mohammed al-Dura, a boy who, we were told, had been shot by Israeli soldiers, was the symbol of the supposed cruelty of the Jewish state at the beginning of the Palestinians' second intifada.

But what if the boy and his father, whom French television caught on film as they tried in vain to avoid the bullets of the Israel Defense Force, were not, in fact, shot by the Israelis? What if the whole story was an elaborate hoax foisted on an all too gullible world by a clever Palestinian propaganda machine?

What objective observers have discovered is that, at the very least, al-Dura could not have been killed by the Israelis. As investigations proved years ago, the child was most probably a victim of Palestinian gunfire aimed at Israelis. Others have suggested a darker scenario in which the boy wasn't killed at all.

While most of us forgot al-Dura, Phillipe Karsenty, a French media gadfly did not. He's tried to hold the French TV crew responsible for spreading the myth. For his troubles, he's been sued himself. But now, a French court has finally ruled that France's Channel 2 must surrender the original film of the incident (with all of the outtakes) which may illuminate the truth.

Does this matter? The answer is yes, because the truth behind this symbol is an apt metaphor for the war that the Palestinians launched in 2000. Just as the bullet that probably killed al-Dura was Palestinian, so, too, was the intifada a self-inflicted wound. The day that Palestinians realize that peace can be theirs if they take yes for an answer is, perhaps, the day that they'll stop sacrificing their children on an altar of hate for Israel.

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