Kafka in Wonderland: L’Express weighs in

L’Express, a major French weekly had the decision up at it’s website within two hours, able to cite verbatim from a document that in principle cannot be released until signed by the court. The following fisking represents reflections on both l’Express and on the judges.

I remind readers that I do not have the judgment yet, so I cannot judge either the article or the Judges on the basis of any more than what’s written here. It may be that the language of this article has been cherry-picked to put Karsenty in a bad light. But harsh it is.

The Al-Dura affair: The Shock-Image of the Intafada is not staged, says the court.

The image of a Palestinian child felled by bullets, diffused by the French station France2 in 2000, and become the symbol of the Palestinian Intifada, cannot be considered a montage or a staged scene, the correctional tribunal of Paris judged.

Against the advice of the floor [i.e., the Procureur] who recommended dropping the charges, the judges condemned Philippe Karsenty, the animator of the websit Media Ratings (www.M-R.fr) for “public defamation” of Charles Enderlin and France2.

Philippe Karsenty is also condemned to pay one symbolic Euro of damages to each of the plaintiffs, as well as 3000 Euros of court costs. He announced to the journalists that he intended to appeal the process and promised that he will present the “proofs” of his claims would be up at his website in the coming days.

I think Philippe means my movie, Al Durah: Naissance d’une icône, which I just spent the last two days recording in French. It will be available on YouTube shortly, and in high definition, available to download at The Seccond Draft in a couple of days.

I would not say that these are “proofs,” certainly not the smoking gun we’d like. It shows (I think) proof that Talal lies and a great deal of evidence that his testimony directly contradicts the footage he and others shot. When we remake the film, with additional material, I think we’ll strengthen certain scenes. But overall, I think that someone who does not want to see the evidence for staging is capable of looking at what we present and concluding that its perfectly plausible footage. And of course, with the court affirming the judgment of the Chamberlain, who will hear the boy shout the emperor is naked?

Broadcast on the 30 September, 2000 on France2, the images shot in Gaza made their way around the world and became the symbol of the violence imputed to Israeli troops in the repression of the Palestinian uprising. They show the death of Muhammed al Doura, 12 years old, cut down by a spray of automatic weapons in the arms of his father.

Wow. One would have thought that by now that particular misrepresentation of the press would have been dropped. At no point after he is allegedly “hit” does Jamal reach for his son. Indeed between take 5 and take 6, he has moved away from the child, turning towards the barrel and showing no concern for his stricken son lying out in the line of Israeli fire. And yet the media still reports him dying in his father’s arms. (Note, this does not mean the reporter has not seen the footage recently — although I doubt he has — because people are perfectly capable of looking at the footage and seeing what they expect / have been told to see.)

in an exchange of fire between Tsahal and Palestinian combatants. According to the journalist, the fire came from the Israeli position.

The thesis of a simulation of the episode and then a montage of images, desined to serve the Palestinian cause and defame, has become a recurrent in certain pro-Israeli media.

This is a particularly interesting remark. It is a truism in post-2000 French culture that anyone who presents evidence favorable to Israel is, by definition pro-Israel, and by implication, Jewish, and by extension, not reliable because partisan (communautariste as the French say. As both Jews and Gentiles told me in France, whenever I defend Israel, people say, “I didn’t know you were Jewish.” Thus, in a Catch-22, We will see this appear also in the courts judgment (below).

The trial in Paris was largely covered by American and Israeli medias.

Note that L’Express didn’t cover this trial in September, hasn’t whispered a word of the issues in previous issues, but know shows it’s fully aware of the press coverage. Karsenty said to me that if he loses it will be all over the papers; if he wins it will be a paragraph on page 18. Well we won’t know about the second half of the prediction, but the first half is pretty clear. Will L’Express show any more interest? Or is the affair réglée?

Now we come to the language of the court, which I find astounding, at least insofar as it is quoted here.

“Coming from a unique source, an Israeli press agency [i.e., MENA], which formulated this accusation late (almost two years after the broadcasting of the information), based essentially on extrapolations and amalgams, (the thesis) draws on peremptory affirmations,” said the Parisian judgment.

I’d have to see more of the court’s language to know what “extrapolations and amalgams” means, but it — and the peremporty language — surely would apply to the logic and action of Enderlin in putting together his broadcast and subsequent defense. The idea that Philippe’s material was based only on MENA’s work — which is itself extensive — is pretty amazing, since it’s also based on the even more extensive and more “mainstream” work of Esther Schapira, and work done and represented by Gerard Huber, Luc Rosenzweig, and me as witnesses. But it seems — again caution till we see the full text from the judges — to imply that if it’s an Israeli press agency, then it cannot be trusted. Perhaps that’s why the German documentary, which France2 blocked from being shown in France, gets ignored entirely.

The judges underlines “that no Israeli authority, neither the army which is nonetheless most affected, nor the justice have ever accorded the slightest credit to these affirmations.

This is again astounding since Giora Eiland, the chief of operations in the army at the time, who had accepted probable responsibility for the boy’s death on behalf of the Israeli army, wrote a statement to the court in which he said, among other things,

At the time that I made this statement, I had not seen the evidence made available to the Israeli army. I made it on the basis of the conclusions that Charles Enderlin, Middle East Correspondent for France2 TV, drew after his professional examination of the evidence before his broadcast…. Now that I have examined the evidence, I would be much more reluctant to accept the IDF’s responsibility… among all of these possible explanations, that given by Charles Enderlin in his broadcast, namely #1 — the boy and the father were the “target of fire coming from the Israeli position” — is the least likely of all the explanations… I formally withdraw my original statement.

This was entered in as evidence by Karsenty’s lawyer.

This language of the court echoes directly the claims of Enderlin that, if he had done wrong, wouldn’t the Israelis say something? This is facetious (if convincing) as an argument. There can be other reasons why the Israelis would say nothing, but it assumes that the Israelis would defend themselves if they could, and underlines the deeply troubled, even dysfunctional nature of Israeli “hasbarah” (explanation, the Hebrew word for PR). I have promised some reflections on this in the past, and will eventually address it.

The defendant, in taking up without distance nor critical analysis of his own sources, the thesis of a scene staged for propaganda purposes… did not meet the serious standards expected of an information professional,” said the tribunal.

This has to be the most astounding language in this article. Karsenty offered both critical analysis of his own, and other sources to support his case. In comparison with Enderlin’s work (and judicial defense), Karsenty’s article — and defense — was a model of scholarly scruples. The idea that Karsenty could be dismissed for not meeting the serious standards expected of an information professional, is stunning. Remember these are judges who heard me testify that when presented with the evident resort to constant faking of “action sequences” by the Palestinian “street” in collusion with his cameraman Talal abu Rahmeh, Enderlin, who professes complete faith in Talal, responded, “Oh they do that all the time.” Nor did either the judges or the plaintiff’s lawyer contest my statement. If such an exchange does not qualify as calling into Charles Enderlin’s “seriousness” as an “information professional,” then we are dealing with Kafka in Wonderland.

At the audience in September, the Procureur had asked for dropping the charges, in judging that Karsenty had done a serious work “in good faith.”

Philippe Karsenty asserts notably that the 27 minjutes of “rushes” of the reportage permit one to prove that the young Palestinian is not dead and feels that the “unlikelihoods, the contradictions, the lies of the reportage can be easily demonstrated.”

I would be extremely surprised if Philippe said that the boy “is not dead.” The most any of us can assert is that, in the last scene, the scene Enderlin cut from his broadcast, the boy is still definitely alive, despite having already been declared dead by Enderlin.

take 6

This is a tragic day for French republican values and the resilience of European culture. Philippe’s personal travails aside, no one but those who long ago wrote France off as a third-world country with first world pretensions, the jihadis with designs on Europe, and their third-worldist allies, can be pleased at such a failure of judicial reasoning.

4 Responses to Kafka in Wonderland: L’Express weighs in

  1. [...] the end, by attacking Karsenty, the court then permits the media to spin the story: “Image Choc de l’Intifada is not staged, says the court.& [...]

  2. [...] the death of Mohammed Al Durah Linked and expanded version of the New Republic article. Kafka in Wonderland: L’Express weighs in L’Express&#82 [...]

  3. [...] appeared last year, the French MSM, which did not cover the trial at all in its early stages, all of a sudden found its voice and announced triumphantly that the court had confirmed the validity of the “image choc de [...]

  4. [...] French weekly L’Express runs an article on the court’s decision. The English translation, as well as Fisking, are available at The Augean Stables. [...]

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