Esther Schapira is a German journalist and filmmaker, the current politics and society editor for German public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk. She has produced two award-winning documentaries, Three bullets and a dead child in 2002, about the "death" of Muhammad al-Dura in Gaza in 2000, and The day Theo van Gogh was murdered in 2007, about the real murder in 2004 of Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, which won her a Prix Europa award. She produced a second documentary about the death of al-Dura, The Child, the Death, and the Truth in 2009.
Last month, Schapira gave expert testimony in the legal battle between Charles Enderlin and Phillipe Karsenty over Al-Dura fraud. Her testimony is described:
Esther Schapira, producer for the German public network ARD, and author of two documentary films on the al-Dura case, went to Israel in 2001 to get the story-behind-the-story of soldiers who shot a child and a father who couldn’t protect his son. But due diligence led her to question the authenticity of the news report. Though France 2 and ARD are both members of a pan-European group, Charles Enderlin was aggressive and uncooperative. He refused her request to see the master tape of Talal’s film, saying he would only show it if there was a court order. He threatened to sue her if she claimed the report was falsified. “I was shocked,” said Schapira. “For a journalist, every question is open to question.” She calmly expanded on her reasons for concluding that it is highly unlikely that Israeli soldiers killed Mohamed al-Dura, but “didn’t want to accuse anyone of lying or fabrication, I didn’t have the smoking gun”.If interested, there is more about al-Dura here and here and in the following clip. It is Pallywood at its finest, if only it was not so tragic in its consequences, for both Jews and Arabs.
Anyway, Ms. Schapira has unloaded on Charles Enderlin in a open letter. Read it and rejoice that there are still journalists on the planet that actually care about presenting facts and trusting consumers to make their own opinions and conclusions.
A couple of excerpts:
It may sound silly to you, but as a journalist I feel personally insulted by your behavior because it is a disgrace for our profession. As journalists we have the duty to find out the truth and tell it. We are not part of any campaign. We are eyewitnesses and we tell our audience what we have seen, what we heard, and what we found out. We ask critical questions and we insist on getting answers. We act according to our best belief — or at least we should. And when we get criticised, when people question our work, when they have doubts and even when they attack us in an unfair way, we have to deal with that by giving more and better and more convincing answers, by presenting more facts.
After more then ten years and after two documentaries I have completed during that time, after so much research, all I know for sure is that there is no proof that Mohammed Al-Dura is dead. We simply don’t know what happened to him after your cameraman Talal Abu Rahme filmed him. Let’s hope that he is still alive. That would be the best, of course, first and foremost for him. He might have survived, he might be 23 years old now, he might be a member of the Facebook generation and he might even have taken part in the Arab Spring in Egypt. Who knows? We do know, however, that the story is very different from the way you told it. We know that this false story killed people because it became a major tool of propaganda and was used as a justification for murder, as in the slaughter of Daniel Pearl.
And I know you are a liar. If you lie on purpose, or if you tell a lie because you are a bad journalist and don’t know the truth, it doesn’t matter. The result is the same. You tell lies and I want your audience to know this as well, and I am going to prove this.
This is why after all this time I have changed my mind, and why, after our new encounter, when once again you called me a “militant journalist,” I decided to write this open letter to you. No worry, I am not going to tell once more why your story on Mohammed Al-Dura is wrong. This was what I did in my documentaries, and for good reason, you and your company didn’t sue me as “Charles big mouth” had threatened he would after the second film had aired. No, quite simply, I’ll talk about the passage in your book where you write about me. I could take nearly every sentence and show how wrong you are, what a cheap mixture of insinuations, generalizations, and false statements it is, but it is not worth the effort. Instead I’ll take a few examples that speak for the rest.As I said: "You Go Girl!" Thank you, Esther Schapira!
(cross-posted at oldschooltwentysix)