Vive la France Republicaine: Elle Vit Toujours!

It’s late and I leave tomorrow. But a brief note on today’s proceedings. I missed most of it, waiting in a back room with the other witnesses. I went second to last. But I was there for my testimony (see my Conversations with Enderlin — we discussed the map), and Gerard Huber, author of the only extant book on Al Durah (unless you want to include Stephanie Gutmann‘s). Then came the summations. France2’s lawyer asked no questions of any of the witnesses and offered no witnesses for her case. Neither Charles Enderlin nor Arlette Chabot, the two plaintiffs, appeared.

After the last witness, Gerard Huber, the judges took a 6 minute break — by now it’s past 7 at night. Outside the courtroom Nidra told me how impressed she was with the level of the proceedings including the nature of the judge’s questions. We went back in for summations. First the lawyer for France2, then the Procureur de la République, an office I did not know about until two days ago. This court-appointed official represents “la société civile,” and summarizes from the point of view of the public interest how to he or she reads the evidence presented and finally makes a recommendation.

The lawyer for France2 gave a strikingly lackluster speech in which she repeated the basic presentation that France2 (via Charles Enderlin) has been repeating for years, as if she had heard none of the witnesses, nor read any of the voluminous work that Philippe and his lawyer had prepared. She questioned the trustworthiness of the witnesses, summarizing their comments and dismissing their qualifications. I apparently said, euh… euh… that I didn’t know much, “and anyway, what does he know about images [and fakes], he’s a medievalist.” I never so reveled in lame criticism.

Then came Madame le Procureur de la République. A screen writer could not have written a better speech. All the best tropes of civil society — honesty, accountability, fairness, transparency, context… the dangerous powers of an uncriticized quatrième état (fourth estate)… the right of the public to know, and therefore the responsibility of France2 to show the tapes of their cameraman Talal abu Rahmeh… the fact that what Phillipe had said was in fact defamation of Charles Enderlin’s reputation as a journalist, but that the evidence more than supported such an accusation… that this was not the typical case of libel, where the person slings unconsidered insults at another, but a carefully studied and considered criticism… that any sharp language was more than justified in the context of a case where one wants to attract attention… that it was not malice to want que Charles Enderlin tombe [that Charles Enderlin should fall].

Oh, and did I mention that she made numerous references to the testimony, that witnesses had come from far away to testify, that this was not just a French issue, but an international issue, and that many had suffered a great deal because of these images.

Then came Philippe’s lawyer, then Philippe, who made seven lapidary remarks, the last of which was the only thing missing from Madame le Procureur’s remarks: That Charles Enderlin and France2 are trying to use the courts [instrumentaliser la justice] to avoid facing the criticism leveled at them, and that if they would produce the rushes and abide by an open inquiry, then we wouldn’t even be in court.

Wow. French Republican values have scored a great first round victory today. This is the France that I fell in love with as a kid, and as a student reading Jules Michelet, and doing medieval history with intellectually vibrant people, the great souled people with wise and fair-minded institutions, and real ideals and commitment to integrity… the people of the Peace of God, and the early, heady days of the French Revolution.

Not to get too excited too soon… that was just one important court officer exercising her functions impeccably, a model of integrity and an accused who defended himself with great diligence and intelligence.

The judges make their decision known on October 19 (a week before the next trial on October 26 at which I will also be testifying… ).

This game is not over, and France2 (and the French MSM) has more than a bored lawyer working their side of the board. No one undergoes thorough, career-ending humiliation lightly, and there are so many resources for the aggrieved individuals in this case — Charles Enderlin, Arlette Chabot, and France2 — to make use of…

Stay tuned, and read Nidra.

Update: Philippe’s final remarks:

“I am of good faith and thiss is what I’d like to remind the court to prove it:
– They are too many incoherences, contradictions, unliklihoods in the film of France2 and the commentaries that followed its diffusion. To realize that one has only to look at the photos on the cover of Gerard Huber’s book.
– The false report was produced by the Palestinian cameraman, Talal abu Rahmeh and covered up by Charles Enderlin and his hierarchy.
– When all is said and done, there are only images, and the accusations are based on the images… so let’s analyze the images.
– I was transparent throughout this long process and this procedure. I presented all the elements at my disposal to affirm that in good faith it was staged.
– France 2 hides its 27 minutes of rushes which are supposed to prove its version and its good faith. Why? Why didn’t they just produce their 27 minutes to shut us up?
– I cannot prove that an even that didn’t happen didn’t take place. The burden of proof is on France2.
– France 2 wanted to use justice to silence its critics and give credence to its reporting. Do not let them do it.

17 Responses to Vive la France Republicaine: Elle Vit Toujours!

  1. Anat says:

    Thanks for checking in, Richard. I was waiting all evening for your report. So far so good.


    Nidra Poller with a surprise breaking report from the Al-Dura Trial Paris 13 September 2006 “Flash: Here are my first impressions of the trial. A proper account will follow tomorrow. The trial was beautiful, the Palais de Justice is beautiful…

  3. Gershon says:

    Good report Richard! You deserve a good French dinner.

    Did you hear the joke about the Israeli in the French restaurant? He asked the waiter, “Do you have frog legs?” “But of course,” replied the waiter. To which the Israeli retorted, “Then why don’t you jump over to the kitchen and get me some pita and humous.”

    You state that Gerard Huber and Stephanie Guttman have the only extant books on al Durah. I saw a post in on another book that may not be exlusively on al Durah but did research the case.WorldNetDaily WND, whose managing editor, David Kupelian, has been documenting the astonishing truth of the story for five years ס in fact, since shortly after the “shooting” occurred in September 2000, as well as dramatic updates.

    “Now, in his widely acclaimed new book, “The Marketing of Evil,” Kupelian blows the lid completely off not only the disastrously fraudulent media reporting of the Palestinian boy’s famous “martyrdom,” but of how the “mainstream media” routinely portray good as evil, and evil as good.” Kupelian did an analsysis in his magazine April 26, 2003.

  4. Mira says:

    However the trial goes we realize, of course, that your reports are of the utmost importance, not the least in that they may play a role in instilling into this affair something of – dare one say – an ethical nature! – however minimal, however tenuous – provided that those “in charge” so to speak, know that your reports exist! Just hope that they are being translated into French and widely diffused. Come what may, A heart-felt THANK YOU to you.
    p.s. When I woke up this morning my almost first thought was: the report!!

  5. Andrew Gow says:

    Wonderful news from the first stage.

    I can just imagine what you thought when the France2 lawyer said what does he know about images and fakes, he’s a medievalist!!!! Brilliant irony–probably lost on most present, but a wonderful moment that I will cite in class and remember for a long time. It resonated especially strongy because we spent some time talking about Mabillon’s defense of documentary evidence against his Jesuit critic–and the value and importance of ‘critique of sources’ to separate forgeries and fakes and interpolations from originals… in 1681…

    for those who don’t get the inside joke among medievalists here, my first book was on an elaborate collection of forgeries and false accounts.

    Speaking of that France you fell in love with, my methodology seminar discussed Bloch’s Historian’s Craft this afternoon, and I felt exactly the same way as you did today–and the looks on my students faces and the things they said suggested much the same–I hope to have started a few love affairs with Bloch’s legacy, world and ‘craft’.

    And now onward! I look forward to the next instalment.


    PAJAMAS AT THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB: POLITICSCENTRAL will host a panel discussion/reception at the National Press Club in Washington DC on September 26. ( 5:30PM cocktail reception / 6:30 Panel – note time change). Topic: “How Partisan Is Too Partisan?…

  7. Philippe, Nidra, Richard,

    We love you and support you!

    Bonne Chance from all of us at!

  8. Thank you providing yoour account of the trial, for you dedication in uncovering this important story, and for the extrordinary intellectual depth you show in your writing.

  9. jayne says:

    Thank you.
    There is hope in the world. I’m trying to spread it around.

  10. Joel says:

    Bravo. I salute.

    Bonne chance.


  11. herschkowitz says:

    Thank you for all your efforts, but do’nt rejoice too early: remembet the Dreyfus affair!

    What do you mean? That it might take as long as the Dreyfus Affair? But that “only” took ten years. So we have four to go… and the Dreyfusards didn’t have the internet and the blogosphere.

  12. Abu Nudnik says:

    The french are a formal people. Don’t get carried away by good form. The french also hide behind it the way they hide bad meat with tasty sauces. It’s the result that counts. Great principles that justify injustice further perverts those principles. I am hopeful but also doubtful. Best of luck and may the truth win.

  13. Eliyahu says:

    Andrew Gow’s post was interesting. I’ve been told that Lorenzo Valla became famous –historically speaking– for exposing the so-called Donation of Constantine. And this ignoramus lawyer deprecates the abilities of a medievalist to discern a fraud or a hoax!! We might also compare the widespread mania unleashed or provoked by the Al-Durah affair to mass crazes in the Middle Ages. How about the Peasants’ Crusade, or the jihads of those days or even the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, who enticed a crowd into following him to their doom???

  14. Wrap Up of Trial Number 1

    I first blogged about this the other day. The trial of the century? It should be. Richard Landes of Augean Stables has posted a review of the first trial date. There seems to be much that he found encouraging especially…

  15. Michel Heyman says:

    Hopefully one day the “Republique” will learn to be moral Republicans. Great Job!

  16. […] This Post Philippe Karsenty asked me to write something about my (obviously premature) enthusiasm for “Republican France” after the […]

  17. Al Dura Petition

    The Mohammed Al Dura Case is considered by many the Father of all Fauxtography (fake journalism and photography). But unlike Reuters, the New York Times and others who have admitted their mistakes, France’s Channel 2 has never released the “rushes”…

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