Arafat: He Didn't Give at the Office





Charles Enderlin is the France 2 Jerusalem correspondent who broadcast the incendiary account of the death of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura at the hands of Israeli troops operating in the Gaza Strip in September 2000. Based on film footage provided by a Palestinian cameraman, Enderlin's report has become infamous among students of Arab propaganda both for its destructive effects and for its probable falsity. The al-Dura affair now bids to join the Dreyfus affair in the French hall of shame.

Flogging his new book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (The Lost Years) at Harvard's Center for European Studies on January 17, Enderlin himself exposed a probable Palestinian media hoax in which he had no involvement. The story exposed by Enderlin involved widely circulated reports by the Associated Press, Reuters, and the BBC. As Joel Pollak recounted online at the site Guide to the Perplexed, Enderlin told his Harvard audience "that Yasser Arafat had faked his blood donation to the victims of the September 11th attacks. Enderlin said the event had been staged for the media to counteract the embarrassing television images of Palestinians celebrating in the streets after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks."

The story of Arafat's blood donation was reported around the world in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, usually accompanied by photographs depicting Arafat in the apparent act of giving blood at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Enderlin elaborated on his contention that the scene depicted in the photographs was staged. According to Pollak's account of Enderlin's remarks, "Arafat didn't like needles, and so the doctor put a needle near his arm and agitated a bag of blood. The reporters took the requisite photographs."

Should we take his word for it? Enderlin is certainly an experienced and knowledgeable reporter on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But taking Enderlin's word for the hoax is a bit like trusting the paradoxical assertion of Epimenides, the Cretan philosopher who famously declared that all Cretans are liars. At the least, we should demand to see what Othello called "the ocular proof." Do the photographs conform to Enderlin's description of them? In short, the anwer is yes....

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