Wednesday, May 21, 2008

J'accuse!

Israel Matzav and Richard Landes have the first word on a story that is still only in the French papers. "Israel Radio's Paris correspondent Gil Michaeli has just reported that the French Court of Appeals has overturned the libel judgment against Phillipe Karsenty and has determined that Karsenty did not libel France 2 correspondent Charles Enderlin when he reported that the 'death' of 12-year old Mohamed Al-Dura at Netzarim in the Gaza Strip in September 2000 may have been staged, and that it was unlikely that the death was caused by IDF soldiers."

Richard Landes writes, "More details to follow. But word from Paris is that the court dismissed charges against Philippe Karsenty today. Now we get to see how the French (and Western) MSM handle this. It’s a stunning victory for Karsenty and loss for Enderlin and France2 who initiated this case when they didn’t have to. In order for an appeals court to reverse a decision, they must have strong evidence to the contrary. The fact that they did indicates that their written decision will be very critical of France2. The implications of this decision are immense. We’ll be following up in the days, weeks and months to come."

For those who haven't been following the case, here is the Wikipedia summary of the events and the controversy that followed.

Muhammad Jamal al-Durrah (1988–2000 (aged 11–12); Arabic: محمد جمال الدرة‎), was a Palestinian boy who became an icon of the Second Intifada when he was filmed crouched behind his father during a violent clash between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip. The two were sheltering during a crossfire between troops at an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) outpost and Palestinian police and gunmen shooting from a number of locations.[1] After a burst of gunfire, the two slumped into prone positions. Al-Durrah was reported to have been killed and his father severely injured by Israeli gunfire. The footage, which was filmed by the French television station France 2, was re-broadcast around the world and produced international outrage against the Israeli army and the government.[2] Images from the footage became an iconic symbol of the Palestinian cause and al-Durrah himself was portrayed as an emblem of martyrdom; the footage was shown repeatedly on Arabic television channels and al-Durrah was publicly commemorated in a number of Arab countries.[3]

Although the Israeli army initially accepted responsibility for the shooting, a number of commentators later sought alternative explanations. They disputed the authenticity of the tape and questioned the honesty of the France 2 cameraman and reporter, the source of the fatal bullets,[1] whether Palestinian gunmen had shot him rather than the Israelis and the identity of the boy in the footage. Some speculated that the entire incident had been faked with no actual casualties.[4][5][6][1] Campaigners sought the reopening of the case but did not attract public support from the Israeli government or army. Instead, unofficial investigations were carried out that disputed the official account of the shooting; these conclusions were not publicly endorsed by the Israeli state.

In 2004 the affair became the subject of legal proceedings in France. The France 2 channel sued the commentator Philippe Karsenty, who alleged that the channel had faked the footage and demanded the firing of Charles Enderlin, the journalist who had produced the original September 30, 2000 report on the al-Durrah shooting. A French court ruled in favour of France 2 in 2006 and convicted Karsenty of libel, though he subsequently took the case to an appeal that is still ongoing. In February 2008 a report presented to the French court of appeal by an independent ballistics expert maintains that the death of Mohammed al-Dura could not have been the result of Israeli gunfire, corroborating claims that the shocking footage was doctored.

The al-Durrah trial and the obstinate effort efforts by Karsenty and Landes to get at the truth may with justice be compared to the Dreyfus Affair. Captain Alfred Dreyfus was falsely accused and imprisoned for treason, following the Franco-German war, ultimately for being a Jew and therefore a scapegoat.

The writer Émile Zola can be credited to have exposed the affair to the general public in a famously incendiary open letter to President Félix Faure to which the French journalist and politician Georges Clemenceau had affixed the headline "J'accuse!" (I accuse!); it was published January 13, 1898 in the maiden issue of the newspaper L'Aurore (The Dawn). It had the effect of a bomb—in the words of historian Barbara Tuchman, "it was one of the great commotions of history" . Émile Zola's intent was to force his own prosecution for libel so that the emerging facts of the Dreyfus case could be thoroughly aired. In this he succeeded. He was convicted, appealed, was retried, and, before hearing the result, fled to England on the advice of his counsel and friends, returning to Paris in June 1899 when he heard that Dreyfus's trial was to be reviewed.

It will be interesting to see what transpires next. If Karsenty's allegation that France 2 doctored the film to frame the IDF for a murder it did not commit are supported by any more forthcoming revelations then the subsequent riots and vengeance killings visited upon the Jews may be sheeted home to them.

Update

Philippe Karsenty makes his first statement, at Pajamas Media.




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13 Comments:

Blogger John Lynch said...

Oscar Wilde did the same thing to himself.

Don't sue for libel if you know it's true.

5/21/2008 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

InstaPundit's Comment: "Perhaps the Israeli military should start filing foreign libel suits against media outfits that collaborate in fake reporting. There's likely enough to keep quite a few lawyers busy . . . . "

My Comment: Perhaps the Israeli government should start filing libel suits against governments that support this sort of story-telling by their media.

5/21/2008 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

The English-language MSM will bury this story as deeply as they can until blogs force them to address it, which they will attempt to do in a way that make this a purely French problem that has nothing to do with them.

Terrorism does not terrorize people who never hear about the atrocity du jour.

It is perhaps too much to hope that the parasitical symbiotic relationship between terrorists and the media will be discussed in excruciating detail, and accountability assigned for the willing, cheerful, and enthusiastic cooperation of Western media in Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and Taliban psychological operations.

5/21/2008 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Interesting. I had never thought of it as France supporting terrorism. I had thought of it as France being French, which means they were trying to fuck things up for Israel and America in the court of public opinion. A chance to be both anti-Semitic and anti-American at the same time.

Remember this took place when Chirac and de Villepin were stomping around the world denouncing vicious over-bearing America, and trying to act as a counterweight.

I don't suppose we'll ever know, but it would be nice to have a smoking gun of when French media knew the tapes were fake and went with the story any way. Whether they helped the dreadful Palestinians in advance to set it up or not. The cameraman was Pal, so I always thought he just sent them the already-edited footage and the Frogs didn't question the story but ran with it because it made so many of their frenemies look bad.

If the French government and its media *did* know in advance and helped the Palestinians stage it and act it out, then that certainly is something beyond libel and bad journalism. Of course, I believe that everyone who was in office then is gone now, so I don't know that there's anything legally that can be done ... other than to continue to call them Frogs and to laugh at them.

And to never, ever, trust them again nor to allow them to refer to themselves as "allies" of anyone except terrorists.

5/21/2008 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Who will play the role of Zola?

Cannoneer wrote: "It is perhaps too much to hope that the parasitical symbiotic relationship between terrorists and the media will be discussed in excruciating detail . . . ."

One reason it's so difficult to have a meaningful discussion about abortion is because everyone knows someone who's had one, and if that person is in the room, you don't want to shame her, or her partner.

I suspect the same is true regarding the subject of truthful journalism. Everyone has sold out, or sold someone out. That's the job. All the more incentive for the journalists to parade in the borrowed feathers of justice and righeousness. So we need not hold our breath for a brave journalisht to say, "J'accuse!"

Nevertheless, the meme seems to be turning regarding the trustworthiness of the media and the truthfulness of the Palestinians/Islamists.

Churchill said, "A lie is half-way around the globe before the truth has a chance to get its boots on." Sure took a long time for the truth to catch up to this lie, however.

5/21/2008 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Who will play the role of Zola?

Karsenty or Landes. Either of these guys can justly claim to have prevailed when everyone else had given up.

5/21/2008 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

And strangely, the boy at the center of the now discredited France 2 video, Muhammed al-durra, is also at the center of this decision.

If it was staged who made him a prop? Who dared to make him a prop? Was the life of a child worth the footage they got? The ad revenues they earned?

Readers will probably remember the another incident. The murder of an Iraqi election worker on Haifa street. In which a large number of gunmen stopped a car carrying a low-level functionary and killed him, coincidentally enough when an AP photographer happened by. Just in time to snap the Pulitzer Prize picture.

I'm not sure whether the al-durra case will have the same impact as Dreyfus, but if the powder train leads to the issue of media misbehavior then a comparison between the two legal dramas will be fully justified.

5/21/2008 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger jono39 said...

We all understand how Blood Libel works. Overturning it is arduous, time-consuming and expensive work and the willing workers of hate are available. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is republished constantly and is irrefutable. If the Israelis be so very wicked, why must their enemies fabricate constantly? We know the answer. And I know the only response which works with these kinds of humans needs no mention in these pages.

5/21/2008 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I'm remembering reading on one of the blogs that covered the al-Dura episode that the boy in question was seen later walking around alive. And that the father had pre-existing wounds from an earlier shooting which were passed off as being the result of Israeli bullets during this incident.

I think that if it can be proven that the whole thing was staged -- with or without the complicity of the French -- that we should assume Mohammad al-Dura did not actually die ... unless the Palestinians can produce a body that can be proven via DNA testing to be his and the body is not now that of a 14 or 15 year old teenager.

5/21/2008 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

wretchard:

Who will play the part of Maurras?

5/21/2008 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger NoGenius said...

Wretchard said...
Who will play the role of Zola?

Karsenty or Landes.


Why Paul Muni did.
(excellent film)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029146/

5/21/2008 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Karsenty Covered But Also Buried by The Times

According to the Times, nothing has been proven. To them, this all-too-academic debate continues.

5/22/2008 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

The lible suit was dismissed after a balistics expert testified, demonstrating beyond all doubt, that the bullets fired could not have come from Israeli Defense forces.

Wretchard reported "In February 2008 a report presented to the French court of appeal by an independent ballistics expert maintains that the death of Mohammed al-Dura could not have been the result of Israeli gunfire, corroborating claims that the shocking footage was doctored."

The NYT reported But France 2 is showing no signs of doing so. In fact, the company’s lawyer was vowing to appeal the decision. “One cannot make the ruling say what it did not — because the court states that Karsenty did not provide proof of his allegations,” Francis Szpiner told Reuters.

So am I correct in concluding the France 2 defense is not about whether the story was fabricated or not but whether or not Karsenty proved his allegations?

It is now May, plenty of time for the court to double or even triple check those results.

"Nothing has been proven huh?" Pardon me but this is the cleanest way for me to state the obvious. The NYT and France 2 are total turds marinated in kool aide. Best be careful here now, some Canadian favoring Palestinian right to lie may take offense and haul you up before an inquisitor.

I still find this all too surreal, a very bad movie or worse a really vivid nightmare.

C'est tres bien, M. Philippe Karsenty et, Vive la France.

5/23/2008 11:29:00 AM  

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