Monthly Archives: November 2007

Jamal brought in for questioning by Hamas “police” in Gaza

The Jerusalem Post ran an article from AP about Jamal al Durah’s run-in with Hamas “security forces.” It raises as many questions about who’s at the switches in the Jerusalem Post staff as what Hamas is upt to.

Father of Mohammed al-Dura arrested in Gaza

Hamas security briefly detained on Saturday the father of a Palestinian boy who became a national symbol when he was killed during intense fighting in Gaza seven years ago.

take 1
Muhammad al-Dura and his father Jamal during a furious exchange of fire between IDF troops and Palestinian operatives.

Jamal al-Dura, 44, said he was held for four hours in a central Gaza police station and interrogated for allegedly shooting in the air during a family wedding. Al-Dura, a supporter of the moderate Fatah movement, denied the accusations and said he can’t carry guns because of his medical condition.

No way of knowing whether this is an insight into how much Hamas is trying to get control of “private violence” (and hence a monopoly on “public violence”) in Gaza, or whether that was an excuse to bring Jamal in and question/warn him about what he says about his son, given the increased attention the trial is bringing to him. The possibility that this is linked to the trial seems remote — it may be pure coincidence that this happened now — but bears watching.

On Sept. 30, 2000, al-Dura and his son, Mohammed, 12, were caught in a furious exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants. A French TV crew captured the two cowering, terrified, behind a wall, and the boy falling after he was fatally shot. The father was badly injured. The scene was broadcast around the world and became a symbol of the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.

Now I presume this is AP talking, but did no one at the JP think it might not be a good idea to recycle this stuff — essentially identical to what was said at the time, with no update from the last seven years?

Let’s take this paragraph sentence at a time; few passages of two sentences of length contain so many misrepresentations of our current state of knowledge.

On Sept. 30, 2000, al-Dura and his son, Mohammed, 12, were caught in a furious exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.

It was not furious. This echoes Talal’s testimony “forty minutes shooting at the boy… bullets rained down… no one could move.” On the contrary, the “three minutes” Enderlin gave out (during which the boy and the father are already behind the barrel), have gunfire, but nothing remotely resembling “furious” gunfire.

A French TV crew captured the two cowering, terrified, behind a wall, and the boy falling after he was fatally shot.

It was a Palestinian crew working as stringers for a French TV station (and using their equipment). This detail alone speaks volumes on AP’s inability to understand the difference between Palestinian stringers working for France2 and a “French crew.” (Although, given my exposure to French journalists, I suspect that a French crew might not have behaved that differently.)

At least the AP (who had a reporter at the trial — Keffieh man) could have mentioned that “fatally wounded” is an allegation now under examination.

Indeed — and this is too much to expect AP to acknowledge at this point, but worth pointing out to people who care about evidence — the boy probably did not fall, he more likely lay down. Had he fallen from being hit by a high-speed bullet in the stomach, he would have fallen backwards, not — iconically — forward at his father’s feet.

The father was badly injured.

We have no sign of blood on his shirt after his son has allegedly died (i.e., after 40 minutes of shooting), no bullets recovered, and now, possibly, an Israeli hospital record of treating Jamal’s wounds from an inter-Palestinian fight years before the iconic moment, and that those wounds and scars correlate directly with the ones claimed in 2000 and repeated here.

The scene was broadcast around the world and became a symbol of the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.

This is the only remotely accurate statement, rendered all the more misleading by coming after a discredited narrative that makes the symbol seem appropriate, and its incompleteness. It also became a symbol of global Jihad and a call to genocide against the Jews in the Muslim world, and a “get out of Holocaust guilt free” card in Europe.

At the police station, Hamas asked al-Dura to sign a piece of paper to pledge he will abide by the law, al-Dura said. He refused.

“I am a law abiding citizen,” al-Dura said. “I am a respected man around the world and here. This is an affront to me and to them,” al-Dura said in reference to Hamas.

This doesn’t make sense. “Them” presumably refers to people who, with him, are affronted by Hamas, not “including” Hamas. And, at least from the videos of Jamal’s testimony that I’ve seen, he doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy to tell Hamas to take a hike. But whether he said it to the Hamas fellows at the station, or to the journalist, note his formulation: “I am a respected man around the world and here.” Oh woe is you if the story gets out.

Hamas security said al-Dura was called in for questioning on a firing incident and was let go.

Hamas is in control of Gaza after it wrested control of Gaza from Fatah-allied forces during fighting in June.

Grades:

AP: D (generous. after all expectations are so low).

JP: F (what’s going on there? your coverage of the trial has been astonishingly poor; and now this? anybody awake?)

Timeline of Recent European Immigration Laws

 

The following timeline is from The Christian Science Monitor-

2007 Timeline of European Immigration Crosscurrents

May 2007 – European Union launches European Border Patrols Network. The official reported objective is to curb illegal immigration across the Mediterranean Sea and along the South-West Atlantic coasts and to detect emergencies at sea thus reducing loss of life.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

Al Dura Affair: France 2 Cooks the Raw Footage (Comments on Nidra Poller)

Nidra Poller has the best account of the courtroom antics at PJ Media. I append comments and reflections. In comparison with so many accounts in the MSM, this one shows how important it is to be familiar with the issues before writing about matters.

Al Dura Affair: France 2 Cooks the Raw Footage

By Nidra Poller
Paris, November 15, 2007

Palais de Justice, Paris, November 14th, France 2 and Charles Enderlin versus Philippe Karsenty—the appeal.

In response to an order issued by the Appellate Court for handover of the unedited raw footage shot by France 2 cameraman Talal Abu Rahma on the 30th of September and 1st of October 2000, the state-owned TV network produced an 18-minute CD, a certificate of conformity, and its Jerusalem Bureau Chief Charles Enderlin. This is the first time monsieur Enderlin has stood before the court since a series of lawsuits for defamation was initiated in September 2006. Enderlin said, in interviews and on his France 2 blog, that he was pleased to have the opportunity to display the raw footage and bring an end to years of unfair, unfounded accusations. French media have shunned the issue, but an array of international journalists and concerned citizens came to see the evidence and judge for themselves. The hearing was scheduled for 1:30 PM.

By noon, dozens of people—journalists and people connected to the al Dura affair—were gathered in the small waiting area outside the courtroom. An hour later, an impatient crowd of 50 or 60 people pressed the early birds against the closed courtroom door. Gendarmes and several individuals in civilian clothes tried to clear a path for lawyers and clients to enter through a side door. Shouting, begging, and threatening to cancel the hearing, they forced their way through the compact mass, carrying folding chairs. Judge Trébucq herself, not yet draped in her official robes, was lugging chairs like a humble servant of the law.

The crush endured. It seemed endless, it was unbearable and absolutely senseless.

There’s a theory that some traffic jams are caused by purely psychological phenomena. Someone brakes sharply during heavy traffic, and a whole knot of stop and go traffic is created by people reacting to him and each other. The knot can remain for hours after the initial braking, as long as the press of traffic remains the same. Here, in a half-empty hallway, everyone was pressed against the door, the object of everyone’s desire. The ones who did not press, like John Rosenthal in the back, did not get in.

From time to time a gendarme emerged and scolded the unruly crowd whose voices disturbed the court where miscellaneous business was being handled. Philippe Karsenty’s father who was standing next to me said “Enderlin is here.” We thought he was joking. Luc Rosenzwieg, whose presence in the courtroom was essential, almost passed out. Daily Mail journalist Melanie Phillips (author of the famous Londonstan), who comes from the land of the disciplined queue, could not believe the Palais de Justice would show such disdain for citizens. Over-eager citizens who have been following the al Dura affair through the Net shoved their way in front of journalists assigned to cover the story and bring the news to millions. Richard Landes and Tom Gross, who need no introduction, did their best to shield us from the worst assaults. A tall slim pale young man with a keffieh around his neck waited, expressionless. Someone whispered: “He’s from the Associated Press.”

It is somewhat alargming to realize to what extent French journalists have no inhibitions about advertising their political commitments. Wearing a keffieh as a scarf is a sharp announcement of ones political sympathies. Imagine a journalist being taken seriously as a candidate to work for a major international news agency who wears an Israeli flag button on his lapel.

Once more a path was cut through the raving crowd. Charles Enderlin arrived with a suite of lawyers and a gaggle of followers.

An enraged Serge Kovacs (France 3) full of sound and fury harangued the crowd from the rear, then got into a shouting match, in Hebrew, with Stéphane Juffa (Metula News Agency). According to our translators, Kovacs was doing a j’accuse on us. Enderlin is his Dreyfuss. We were the lynch mob. He was out of control. We sent a few gendarmes over to expel him.

As I watched and listened from a distance, I saw this red-faced shouter who, people informed me, works for France3. He seemed to illustrate still more dramatically than the AP keffieh guy just how openly partisan the passions of French journalists. Enderlin innocent! A new Dreyfuss. The scandal of attacking him in court! Shame on you.

I spoke with Serge today: a fascinating man, filled with passion, child of Holocaust survivors from Hungary, tremendously worried about the wave of anti-Semitism that is destroying European culture. So why is he protecting Enderlin? Because Enderlin helped him through some difficult moments… out of loyalty, out of professional solidarity. Did he know that Enderlin is the plaintiff and Karsenty the defendant? “No.” Did he realize how much Enderlin contributed to the very Judeophobie he was worried about? “They didn’t need al Durah to hate.” Did he realize that Enderlin behaved badly as a journalist? “Possible, he’s not called ‘Scoop’ for nothing.” Did he want to see the evidence? “No.”

“Charles is above all proud. If you want him to admit error, you’re asking him to put a bullet to his head and pull the trigger. Forget it. He would sooner die that admit error, and Arlette Chabot will defend him, not because he’s right, but because he’s her employee and her organization’s reputation is at stake. If France2 loses this case every journalist will have to fear having his work questioned.”

Isn’t that the essence of journalism in a free (i.e., a publicly critical) society? Shades of Dreyfuss alright: If we admit error, we lose face, lose authority, lose power.

2:15 PM-The court instructed the gendarmes to let us enter one by one, one journalist, one citizen. The ordeal was over for those of us who made it through the door. It was about to begin for Jamal and Mohamed al Dura, “target of gunfire from the Israeli positions,” dixit Charles Enderlin on that fateful day.

Judge Trébucq introduces the session. “I know there are many journalists here,” she says… and reminds us that it is strictly forbidden to use recording devices. Yes, but the reminder has a special flavor, something like a wink, here in France where the media are conspicuously ignoring the al Dura affair. Reading an excerpt from the cameraman’s testimony under oath—”I filmed 27 minutes of the incident that lasted 45 minutes—” the judge asks why there are only 18 minutes on the CD. The seasoned France 2 journalist gives a garbled excuse, a long diversion about how they never conserve raw footage, but this subject was exceptional, so he kept the cassette in a safe. He tells how Talal Abu Rahma was allowed by the IDF to go to the Annual Congress of Press Mediators in April 2001 to receive an award. This was clearly his strategic option, and he used it throughout the screening. Verbose and evasive, he constantly diverted attention away from the image, away from the specific detail under scrutiny, away from events that occurred that day at Netzarim Junction.

So how did the 27 minutes boil down to 18? Enderlin denies that anyone ever said there were 27 minutes… and then says there was some irrelevant material that he chopped off the day after the incident.

The incoherence of the argument was only matched by the oily self-confidence with which he said it. I expected the judge to peer over her glasses at Charles and say, “Are you kidding? Who told you you could make such judgments. I want the entire tape.” But no.

The judge presses the point, asking Rosenzweig and Landes to estimate the duration of the footage they viewed. They both attest to more than 20 minutes… Rosenzweig remembers someone mentioning 27. Karsenty’s lawyer concludes for the record: something is missing.

The raw footage was not so raw. And it was barely al Dura. If we take the cameraman’s word for it, given under oath a few days after the incident, not something but everything is missing. This is supposed to be the raw footage of the al Dura death scene. What we get is raw footage of Palestinian youths throwing stones, firebombs, and burning tires at the Israeli outpost. And provoking no reaction, except for one teargas bomb. Real provocations alternate with those familiar fake battle scenes with instantaneous ambulance evacuations.

Everything is missing. This is the big news for the public, what should have been in the Jerusalem Post and any other MSM reporter’s account. Talal said he had 27 minutes of the 45-minute long shooting ordeal; Enderlin said he cut painful scenes of the boy’s agony; Talal told Esther Schapira he had sent Charles initially six minutes of the shooting. And there are none. We see minute after minute of Pallywood (which Charles’ imagination populates with rubber bullets coming from undetectable rifles, inflicting such terrible wounds that constant ambulances are necessary). But nothing more on al Durah.

A 45 minute ordeal of Israelis targeting a defenseless boy and his father — the core of Talal’s oft repeated claims that made this footage so terrifying — boils down to 60 seconds. The first and foremost revelation of this showing of the rushes is that the 27 minutes that Talal swore to under oath he took, do not exist. He caught virtually nothing of the alleged ordeal. We are left with six takes of ca. 10 seconds each, each notably discontinuous with the previousl

The 21 minutes that I saw three times in Enderlin’s office, scene after scene of Pallywood, is entirely different material. And out of the combined 21 minutes of previous rushes and the 27 minutes of shooting, we were shown 18.

Judge Trébucq had asked Charles Enderlin to move back from center stage to a more modest position but he continued to assume the lead role, talking without interruption. Telling war stories. Making cultural interpretations. He sent his trusted cameraman to Netzarim Junction that day because seven Palestinians had been killed on the Temple Mount the day before. He expected protests.

This was actually quite shocking. The court should have viewed the scenes before having Enderlin frame them for us. It was like giving him the opportunity to set the stage. Like the MSM when the story first aired — “Attention viewers, the footage you are about to see is shocking. Please be advised.” — he tells us what we are to see.

As Charles Enderlin switched on his anchorman’s voice and stonewalled, his legal team—Maître Amblard, who has been handling the cases for the past year, reinforced by a tall dashing Maître Pierre Olivier Sur and the scowling Guillaume Weill-Raynal— stood squarely in front of Landes and Rosenzweig, blocking their view of the screen.

Again, I expected the judge to tell them to sit down. They did not. Which drove me and Luc to go on the floor even closer. It actually backfired. I was right behind Philippe and got to give him some points to make.

Enderlin comments: This is what we call typical Intifada scenes. A game that’s played between the Palestinian youths and the Israeli soldiers. The limits are clearly defined. That’s why the kids aren’t afraid, they move around casually, throw a firebomb, laugh and joke. The Israelis up to this point are firing metal bullets coated with rubber. They cause big bruises.

Ah, but we are seeing all these ambulances pulling up with hurling sirens. So Charles Enderlin explains that sometimes the bullets do penetrate, the wounds are more serious, and the Palestinians call an ambulance. Yes, the game can go on for hours, then somebody loses his nerve, shoots live ammunition, and people get killed.

Judge: What time of day is this?

Enderlin: The end of the morning. This kind of action was going on off and on all morning. I told Talal to wear a bullet proof vest, but he didn’t want to… As it turns out…

The time line clicks on, the minutes go by, and Charles Enderlin, flanked by someone presented as a specialist (in images? photojournalism? the Mideast conflict?) never stops talking. Still no images of Mohamed al Dura and his father caught in the crossfire. The action is interspersed with brief interviews. Enderlin translates from the Arabic. They are protesting because Sharon went into the Al Aqsa Mosque…or defiled the mosque, or destroyed it… They are angry. This is the expression of their anger.

I noted to Karsenty and he noted to the judge, that the interviews take place with the Israeli position behind them. If the ambulances were taking away wounded from Israeli fire, why are they in plain sight of the Israelis.

Enderlin responds: “They’re far away, out of range.”
Philippe: “About as far away as the Al Durahs in the subsequent shooting.”

We hear gunfire in the background. Karsenty interrupts to say there is no sign of bullets coming from the clearly visible Israeli position. Enderlin laughs in his face. Hah! If I could get a film that shows bullets coming from a firing position, it would be a scoop.

Abu Rahma interviews a Fatah leader who speaks English. He too explains that they are angry because Sharon went into the Al Aqsa Mosque. Abu Rahma asks him how long he thinks the protest will last. Undaunted by this curious question, the Fatah militant replies that it will last until the lesson is learned (does he mean until the message is heard by the Israelis or learned by the Palestinians?) and concludes: “they want to defend al Aqsa with their blood.”

The timeline reads 13 minutes 66 (?) seconds. Enderlin explains: Talal switched off his camera and wraps it up. He had done his day’s work. When he turns it on again, the real shooting has begun. Enderlin’s voice is dramatic. He comments, as the camera searches. Real gunfire, Talal is trying to see where it is coming from, is it the Israeli position? No, is it the Palestinian… From the “twin towers?” The fortress?

Karsenty reminds him he said you can’t see the bullets coming out. Enderlin says you can see the tip of the barrel of the gun at the window.

While we see the smoke of guns firing from the Palestinian position.

Suddenly everything is confused. The timeline skips from 14’20 to 17’00. We see the beginning of the al Dura news report as it was broadcast. The avocat général fiddles with the controls, the image winds back, forward. We’re back at the interview. The commentary is confused. Is Charles Enderlin saying the fire was coming from the Palestinian positions?

This moment was very strange. Enderlin started to make remarks to prepare for what was to come, indicating that we had seen the previous footage and we would now be seeing the footage of the al Durahs (the three minutes). At this point I realized that they had cut the scenes I saw (and probably more). I was in disbelief (I am so naive).

At this point the stop and go of the remote started to break down and we went back and forth jumping wildly. But between the previous rushes and the 3 minutes, the screen goes blank. Obvious editing.

Finally—it’s not clear how—we get to the al Dura footage. And all we see is what you got in the original September 30, 2000 broadcast. It’s spliced. But we recognize the details. Karsenty interrupts every few seconds to point out the anomalies. No blood. The boy is holding a red kerchief to make it look like blood.

This was big. The best footage I have seen — at Shahaf’s — is not as sharp as this. The shape and movement of the scarf seemed much clearer, but since Philippe was jumping up and pointing it out to the judges, I couldn’t see as clearly as I’d like.

The soldiers were supposed to be firing at them for 45 minutes, the wall is intact, there are a few holes. Round holes, shot head on.

Charles Enderlin and Talal Abu Rahma have consistently claimed that the Israeli position was directly opposite the targeted man and boy. It is not true. Enderlin stands in front of the judge and says everything and the opposite about the positions. He does not reply to a single objection raised by Karsenty, raised by other analysts repeatedly over the past seven years: The father’s arm is intact, he claims he was hit nine times by high power bullets, his muscles smashed, his bones crushed. No blood on his white t-shirt. Voices in Arabic shout “the boy is dead! the boy is dead!” He is sitting next to his father, eyes wide open.

Charles Enderlin standing in a French court explains: Oh, that’s something cultural. In their culture, when they say “the boy is dead” they mean he is in danger of dying, that he is in a very dangerous situation, he might die. The judges smile.

And the courtroom laughed. It was one of Charles’ less briliant moments.

We reach the end of the scene as it figured in news reports, the point where Charles Enderlin said, “Mohamed is dead, his father is critically wounded.” We might ask what that means in his culture…because the scene continues for another three seconds in which we see the boy who is lying on his stomach with his hands over his eyes, turn, lift his elbow, shade his eyes, look at the camera, and slowly return to his prone position.

Philippe Karsenty interrupts every few seconds, leaps up, points to the screen, asks for a slow forward, backward, forward. The boy is moving. He is alive.

The expert steps in, points to the image, the position of the boy’s foot, and declares: “A living person couldn’t hold his body in that position.”

That was one of the more bizarre moments of all. He talked about how the body had gone limp and the boy was unquestionably dead (in scene 5) when a) his hand is on his eyes and his elbow is off the ground, and b) in the next scene he moves.

Back in the autumn of 2000 when the al Dura news report first hit the screens, Talal Abu Rahma and Charles Enderlin often told how they experienced, by exchange of cell phone calls, that terrible ordeal as it was happening. Talal phoned to say the man and the boy were pinned down by gunfire. Enderlin said be careful. Talal described how the man tried to protect the boy, called someone on his cell phone, tried to show the Israeli soldiers he was a helpless civilian, with a child. Abu Rahma filmed, phoned, filmed. He told Enderlin to look after his family if anything happened to him. He was ducking bullets, shielded by a panel truck, a few kids were gathered around him, seeking refuge. Bullets were flying. How many phone calls? Maybe a dozen, as they told it then. All the way up to the fatal outcome.

On November 14th, Charles Enderlin, standing before the judges, as the brief one-minute of raw footage focused on Mohamed al Dura and his father drew to an end, began that litany: and Talal was calling me as it was happening…

He would have gone on if someone hadn’t interrupted him. Most likely Philippe Karsenty, making another point about the signs of life in the allegedly murdered child. He might have gone on, and described the dramatic phone calls back and forth, without realizing that everyone in the courtroom saw that the raw footage focused on the al Dura incident lasted only one minute. Just one minute. How many times did the cameraman call the journalist as he filmed that dramatic one-minute incident?
And the totality of film recorded by the France 2 cameraman on that fateful day, over a period of at least 5 hours, was eighteen minutes?

Of course Talal’s answer would be, I called during the 45 minutes that punctuated my six takes of 10 seconds each (cell phone batteries doing better than camera batteries). I can imagine these phone calls. They were the way that Talal set “Scoop” up to see what Talal wanted him to see when he got the tapes — a tragedy of monumental proportions.

The session ended. The debate continued in the marble halls of the Palais de Justice. Interviews were filmed. Information and impressions exchanged. The behind the scenes story will be reported in the coming days.

The next hearing is scheduled for the 27th of February 2008.

My inside informer says that the judges will do a thorough re-examination of the entire case.

This is excellent news. If the judge is diligent, Enderlin’s goose is cooked. Few people merit such a fate more than this man who was either complicit or duped, and has spent the last seven years defending his lost honor no matter what the enormous collatoral damage.

Gambling with a Lie: Enderlin pulls a Rosemary Woods

[NB: For those who are too young to remember, Rosemary Woods was President Richard Nixon’s secretary, who was asked to take the blame for the missing 18.5 minutes of tape that had been cut from the famous “Nixon Tapes” before releasing them to the Grand Jury investigating Watergate. She has, for those politically aware in the 1970s, become a byword for tampering with evidence.]

I must admit, many people told me that Enderlin would doctor the tapes, and I didn’t believe them. “No,” I thought, “it’s one thing to lie to me and others in his office, but to the court, where he would surely get caught? He would not be that reckless…” Not.

Today Charles Enderlin presented in court the “rushes” of Talal abu Rahmah which the Judge had requested from him. And he presented an edited version in which he took out at least three minutes, and at least one scene that I distinctly remember seeing. In the United States that’s called tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, and perjury. In France, we’ll find out what it’s called.

I’ll let Nidra tell the detailed account since I was one of two people who, having seen the rushes, were placed in an advantaged position to see and check that they were, indeed, what I had seen earlier, so I was unable to take notes.

Before the viewing of the rushes, there was some discussion of why there were only 18 minutes. Charles Enderlin — who had disdained showing up for any previous hearing in the trials he had initiated, even when he was in Paris at the time — explained that the cassette they had saved had 27 minutes of footage, but some did not concern that day (how?), and that he had eliminated the irrelevant material. (At this point I expected the judge to say, “let us be the judge of what’s irrelevant,” but she didn’t.)

Then we viewed the rushes with a preamble and running commentary by Enderlin, with comments by Karsenty. It was something of a circus. But it did give me an insight into how Enderlin’s mind works. He explained about Sharon’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount on the 28th, and the riots that ensued on the 29th in the West Bank, and how everyone expected the rioting to spread to Gaza the next day, “because that’s how it works.”

And sure enough, when we see the tapes, we see scene after scene of people being evacuated into ambulances. We don’t see them hit, we don’t see their injuries, but we do see them taken to ambulances, and Enderlin explains: “The Israelis are firing with rubber bullets.” Now there’s no evidence that the Israelis are firing. But because Enderlin expects violence, when he sees Palestinians evacuated in ambulances, he concludes that they have been shot by Israelis.

Most of the material was inconclusive or boring, and I patiently waited for the material I’d seen. Then, at about 15 minutes on the time code, Enderlin announces that there will be a break and we will see the final scenes. That’s when I knew he had cut the scenes. Sure enough, the screen went blank, and then began the final three minutes.

Now there are at least two scenes that I remember specifically, one of which we have documented by Reuters. (In the original post here I thought that scene was cut because Enderlin knew of the Reuters footage and the use we had made of it in Pallywood. But it turns out I missed this brief sequence because people in the court were in the way.)

In a scene we’ve dubbed Molotov Cocktail Kid, a youth lopes comfortably down the road, showing no sign of injury. He hands of a Molotov Cocktail to another kid and enters a crowd. We see red on his forehead, but no indication that he’s injured.

molotov 1
Handing off the bottle. Note the red on his forehead.

Once in the crowd, he is picked up by others.

molotov 2
Note that his left leg is bent as the crowd sets to carry him.

Past photographers, among whom we find Talal abu Rahmah, with his France2 equipment.

molotov 3

Talal is in close, for maximum effect. Note the fellow on the far left who’s in for the ride. He’s seen smiling in the video.

And then run back right in front of the Israeli position (where he was presumably shot) and loaded on the ambulance right in front of the Israelis

molotov 4

Israeli position in the background. No one is afraid of being hit by them.

Here’s the video sequence:

Apparently, only the close comparison with the Reuters footage reveals that this was a staged scene, so Endlerlin left it in, showing the power of both techniques for filming staged scenes so they look real, and the ready (even innocent) willingness of an experienced journalist like Enderlin, even when he’s been warned that people are checking his work, to assume it’s true.

Indeed, he not only didn’t cut it, he used - without any irony – it to show how the court the quality of his journalism. I did a video blog subsequently to show what was going on.

 

The second scene, however, was more blatant all on its own, and it was missing: I had described it in some detail because it led to perhaps the most astonishing conversation I’ve ever had, an eye-opener for me that inspired the term Pallywood.

At another point, a heavy-set man faked a leg injury, but instead of drawing big kids who could pick him up and rush him past the cameramen to an ambulance, he only attracted little kids. He shooed them away, looked around, and, seeing that no one was coming to evacuate him, straightened up and walked away without a limp.

Indeed this scene provoked a snort from the Israeli cameraman working for France2 who was watching the film with me and Enderlin at the time. When I asked him why, he said:

“Because it looks so fake.”
“That’s my impression as well,” I responded.
Enderlin commented, “Oh, they do that all the time. It’s their cultural style. They exaggerate.”
“But if they do it all the time, why couldn’t they have staged Al Durah?” I asked.
“Oh, they’re not good enough,” a supremely confident Enderlin responded.

Now ultimately, this is my word against Enderlin until we see the full tapes. But I suspect that the response that Jeambar, Leconte and Rosenzweig got from Didier Epelbaum (Enderlin’s boss at France2) – “Oh yes, monsieur, you know it’s always like that…sdasavad” – was in response to the same scene, and if Arlette Chabot turned “white as the walls,” it was when she saw this comically bad scene.

If there was any scene to cut from this tape. And sure enough Enderlin cut it.

Apparently, he has such contempt for the court that he thinks he can brazenly cheat them. The judge struck me as no one’s fool, and Karsenty will surely pursue these matters. (He did not.)

So as far as I can make out Enderlin has made a major gamble: tamper with the evidence, show people inconclusive material (the woman next to me said, “I came without making up my mind, and nothing’s clear), and hope the court doesn’t catch him.

But in so doing, he’s rendered himself extremely vulnerable. As Esther Schapira pointed out:

First of all, we have no proof whatsoever that what we saw today is really the camera tape or a DVD copy of the camera tape, the original master tape. For one simple reason, there was a consecutive time code on the DVD that we saw. Now there’s no way you can have the time code without any interruption when it is really the camera tape, because when you switch it on and off you always get a new time code… there are frames missing. So clearly, what you could see on the material was that it is not one shot… but many, many different shots.

As far as I know, it’s virtually impossible to edit this material without leaving marks of your activity.

Either Enderlin is desparate and foolish, or he will pull strings to get away with this. In either case he’s demonstrated just how much he fears letting the evidence out, and how consumately he prevaricates.

I’ll post more on yesterday’s events in the days to come. Many important details to cover.

Thoughts before the Court Viewing of the France2 Rushes

The viewing of the tapes at this afternoon’s trial has created a good deal of excitement, at least in the small corner of the news world that cares about things like Pallywood and Al Durah. At least five journalists have come to Paris for this event, including Stephane Juffa from Metulla, and Esther Schapira from Frankfurt, both of whom made the first documentaries on the story, Melanie Phillips and Tom Gross. Journalists have started taking an interest and making calls.

But we don’t know what will happen tomorrow, nor how what happens effects not only the case (February 27), but the direction of this entire affair. So let me present some of the issues I think relevant.

1) It’s not obvious to everyone that the staged scenes are staged.

As one commenter noted here, when first viewing the rushes I’ve put up, it’s not clear what I mean by Pallywood. It takes a practiced eye. Only after viewing the material several times and keeping certain facts in mind (position of the Israelis relative to the scene), and overcoming a certain predisposition to believe that what you’re seeing is true, can you begin to realize what’s afoot. (For material to work with, go here.)

It takes getting used to what’s happening because everything you see defies your expectations until you realize it’s being staged. So people who view it are torn between imposing their expectations on reality and absorbing what’s going on — the modus operandi of Pallywood. That is, someone fakes an injury, others pick him up and run him to an ambulance, past cameramen like Talal, and then everyone goes home in the evening to see if they got on TV.

Like CSI, it’s often the smallest details that reveal the larger problem, and if you’re busy working on “making this work” in terms of your expectations, you can miss/dismiss those critical details. In his discussion of anomalies to paradigms, Kuhn spoke about the disorientation people felt when they were shown a black heart or red spade. Viewing the rushes puts the attentive viewer into a a kind of information vertigo — a particularly intense form of cognitive dissonance.

But perfectly sharp journalists have looked at the tapes and seen nothing worthy of note (most recently former IDF Spokesman Nachman Shai). But then, Leconte, Jeambar and Rosenzweig agree with me.

As a result of the inertial weight of expectations, it’s hard to predict what either the judges or anyone else thinks tomorrow. The reports from the last trial, in particular the fact that the judge asked the France2 lawyer if there were any staged scenes (there shouldn’t be any), makes me cautiously optimistic. If that’s her attitude going in (unless she’s already seen them with the other judges — I hope so), then good. There are a couple of scenes that are comic (that I would have dearly loved to put in Pallywood), but they may have been cut (see below). It’s possible that there will be no “smoking gun” of fakes, if the film runs once through without reruns and analysis.

2) How Shocking?

Behind this difference of reaction to the rushes lies something else: how amazed are you that this is going on, that the Western media has no apparent problem with it? If you are like Clement Weill-Raynal or Charles Enderlin, there’s nothing to say. It happens all the time. Anyone who expresses astonishment is just naïve.

Philippe Karsenty’s comic riff on talking to French journalists about the evidence comes to mind:

    There’s no blood.
    So?
    There are no bullets.
    So?
    The boy moves after he’s been declared dead.
    So?
    There’s no ambulance evacuation.
    So?
    All the footage Talal shot before this scene were staged.
    So?

But if that’s just a ho-hum, then why the trial? What’s Enderlin’s beef about being defamed if Philippe just said he did something that’s not a big deal?

Ultimately one’s ability to understand the stakes in this has an enormous impact on how indignant one gets. If the world is doing okay and we’ll muddle through this latest problem with the “religion of peace,” then these supposedly egregious sins of staging don’t seem that important. It’s how things work: the media need footage, the Palestinians supply it, the media have deadlines… what do you want from them?

On the other hand, if you think that this kind of journalism has disoriented us terribly at a moment of great danger (indeed it has contributed to that danger), then your tolerance for such “foibles” may not be as forgiving.

What I am hoping is that those who have seen Pallywood, and know the basic operating principles, will spot it right away. I wouldn’t even mind if the place started laughing at some of the scenes. But we’ll have to see what the chemistry in the courtroom is like.

3) The Situation in Court

Nidra tells me the court is considerably smaller than the (already small) earlier courtroom, and that the people on the right side will not be able to see much since the screen will be turned to the judges. So we don’t know how many people will get in (I’m going two hours early), nor what the general atmosphere will be. I gather there will be cameras outside the courtroom, so we should have some immediate reactions on tape.

4) The famous 27/18 minutes.

Talal says he took 27 minutes of the 45-minute of the gunbattle in which Jamal and Muhammad were cut down in a rain of bullets. I saw 21 minutes of rushes in the France2 offices in Jerusalem. France2 has given the court 18. What’s up?

The 27 minutes played an important role in the early controversy. Talal referred to them in his sworn statement.

I spent approximately 27 minutes photographing the incident which took place for 45 minutes. After the father and the child were evacuated by an ambulance to the hospital, I stayed 30-40 minutes. I could not leave the area, because all of those who were in the area, including me, were being shot at and endangered.

Enderlin alluded to the existence of more footage of the shooting when he explained that he cut some scenes of the boy’s death throes that were too unbearable to show:

J’ai coupé l’agonie de l’enfant. C’était trop insupportable. L’histoire a été racontée, l’information donnée, ça n’aurait rien rajouté.
[I cut the child's death throes. It was unbearable. The story had been told, the information provided, it would have added nothing.]
(Télérama, 25 octobre 2000 [no. 2650], p.10)

This had the desired effect, among other things, of frightening the Israelis from doing any serious investigation lest this even more damaging footage come out as well.

But, it turns out, they don’t exist. Those who have seen the rushes know that none of them concern the boy and his father behind the barrel. On the contrary, on a day that Enderlin believed the Gaza Strip had erupted in anger at the killings on the West Bank the previous day, his cameraman’s rushes are actually filled with comic Pallywood. As for the “death agony,” Enderlin now speaks of “the few seconds”:

…les quelques secondes de l’agonie de l’enfant que j’avais coupé considérant à l’époque que celà rendait le sujet trop dur.
[... the few seconds of the child's death throes which I had cut, believing at the time that they made the subject too difficult.]

If it’s “the few seconds,” he’s talking about this. In my not so humble opinion, the scenes he cut were unbearable, not to the viewer, but to his (and Talal’s) narrative. If the public had seen the last scene, there would have been an immediate outcry. But giving that scene to his colleagues in the media produced nothing but silence.

If you don’t understand these details, you can come away from a viewing of the rushes with the impression that there’s nothing here. Certainly nothing about the al Durahs.

So which is it? 21 minutes or 18 minutes? In fact there’s got to be much more than either of those totals. Talal was filming from 7AM, and, according to his own testimony (to explain why he kept starting and stopping his camera during the 55 seconds he took of the actual shooting), he told Enderlin his batteries were dying (so Enderlin told me). So, like the other cameraman there, from whom we have almost two hours of rushes, I suspect that Talal took a lot more footage than any of us who are shown the rushes by France2 have seen.

But what about the smaller discrepency. The only way that France2 didn’t conceal material is if they sent the 18 minutes that no one has seen outside their studios, and not the final 3 minutes that Enderlin distributed so generously to the other news agencies in the hopes they’d run the story too (which you can view here). But according to Adi Schwartz of Ha-Aretz, who saw the 18 minutes recently, they include these final scenes. So it’s entirely possible that France2 has sent in doctored tapes.

We’ll have to wait till tomorrow, before judging. If, however, France2 has pulled a “Rosemary Woods” and cut the most embarrassing scenes, I’ll know it (have three in mind), and so will Luc Rosenzweig. And we won’t hesitate to let Karsenty’s lawyer know.

5) The Meaning of Tomorrow’s Viewing and of the Karsenty Case

Even if Karsenty wins, this is still the early stages of the process of exorcising the blood libel of al Durah and the chronic weaknesses of a MSM that launders Pallywood. The al Durah dossier is a many faceted stone that sheds light on a wide range of issues, and whose understanding makes it possible to (begin to) grasp the nature of our problematic media, our dysfunctional relationship with the Muslim world, and the ways that a misguided media contributes to the very belligerence it thinks it is trying to avoid.

Perhaps in direct correlation with how mutli-faceted and revealing it is, the dossier is also problematic. Unlike the Dreyfus affair, where the evidence was a slam-dunk and anyone honest who saw it had to agree (like Rathergate), this material is only a dunk. And given the predispositions of people in viewing it, it’s more like a long 3-pointer. Many people look at the evidence both with their own common sense eye, and with the eye of some imaginary viewer whom they want to convince. They might be convinced according to their common sense, without feeling that that view will carry the day. That’s why when I first got started on this, people said, “We need 110% proof.” That’s why to this day, people of good intentions in the Israeli and Jewish public diplomacy circles continue to think that this is not a good dossier to work with, that it risks too much blowback to take the chance.

On one level, this is the emperor’s new clothes. The chamberlain, Enderlin, has come out from the tailor (abu Rahmah)’s quarters, and told us, “this is real.” All the MSM courtiers lined up, and (in this case) a wildly cheering audience greeted the public appearance. All of us early whistle-blowers on this — Shahaf, Juffa, Huber, Poller, Karsenty, me — all got told what the father told his son, “Hush child, be silent.” And not just by the media, but by the people most damaged by this image — Israeli and Jewish leaders who feared the dossier.

The problem in the case of al Durah is, in order to experience that terrifying cognitive dissonance that that crowd experienced as they watched the emperor parading naked — my common sense tells me he’s naked, “everyone” tells me it’s a fine new suit — you have to see the rushes, you have to examine and think about the evidence. And even the best of our MSM is still far too steeped in their protective assumptions (including professional courtesy) to do so.

The importance of the trial has been to bring attention to this dossier (Enderlin — your bad; what a mistake.) But the tapes remain in France2′s hands — they have refused the IDF’s request now twice. And until we get a hold of those tapes, can study them and present them, people will not have the tools to explore the amazing world of staging that lies within and behind the al Durah affair. At some point, hopefully, the Al Durah affair will be a basic curriculum for journalism students — the nadir of journalism at the dawn of the 21st century. That is, if civil society makes it through this particular challenge.

Strategy for the Future

This dossier is immensely complicated, and involves not only journalistic, but diplomatic and military dimensions that play out in four major venues — Israel, France, the USA, and ultimately, the Arab world. There is no quick victory, indeed such a quick victory is less desireable than a slow unfolding of the many facets of this tale, the rich texture of its revelations on so many aspects of our current dilemma.

Some blood libels have been disproven (the child in question had been hidden and was found). But no blood libel in the history of the genre has ever been reversed. At best, the attacks cease, but the rumors and private convictions that Jews need Christian blood for Matzah on Passover continued to grip the imagination of Christians (and now, with variants, Muslims). Jews repeatedly lived between libel and, when it was proved false, silence. This one is a new kind of blood libel, and its impact has been to inject a hateful poison in the very veins of global information systems: so it’s no longer merely a question of whether Jews suffer or not.

Turning this one around may — should — take years. Unlike Herakles, who cleaned the Augean Stables in a day, this one may take us all a decade to filter out the poisons. Already the blogosphere has had a salutory affect on a media grown so accustomed to circulating libels that it thinks it’s one of their professional “rights.” As Enderlin lamented to the BBC, “as a result of the scrutiny his case has received, coverage of Israel’s treatment in Palestinians in the occupied territories is being toned down in newsrooms.”

Enderlin calls it a “campaign of intimidation.” It’s actually just basic criticism, essential element of a civil society. Indeed, it’s Enderlin’s inability to distinguish between criticism and intimidation, his inability to view receiving criticism as a part of his professional duties, rather than considering it an “attack on his honor and estimation”, that led him to the folly of attacking three French individuals in court for “defamation.”

How foolish this will all look, someday. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

When Palestinians Prefer Israeli Occupation to Palestinian Self-Rule

In yesterday’s The New York Times, there is a front page article with the headline “6 Palestinians Killed in Gaza At Fatah Rally.” In the article, a Gazan woman is quoted as saying about Hamas, “The Israelis were more merciful than them. They beat children in front of my eyes.”

That almost all Arabs would rather live in Israel than in a Palestinian state is well-known. But the fact that most Palestinians actually prefer Israeli occupation to Palestinian self-rule is a show-stopper. That sentiment turns the dominant Western attitude toward a solution for the Palestinians on its head. It means that those who claim to be speaking for all Palestinians when defending their actions by expressing their frustration in living under Israeli rule are actually contradicting popular Palestinian will. The assumption in Western governments and international organizations that a Palestinian state is the only desirable end is likewise deflated. While a Palestinian state that functioned and protected civil rights in the manner that Israel does would be preferable to Israeli control to the majority of Palestinians, any foreseeable Palestinian entity is becoming increasingly unappealing compared to the situation under Israeli military presence.

Daniel Pipes categorizes the reasons behind the nostalgia for Israeli control. Prosperity, freedom of expression, services, and protection of minorities are major factors.

In my experience with Gazans, I found similar feelings. When my company assumed responsibility for the security of the Erez crossing in the wake of the Hamas coup in the Gaza Strip, I sat down to eat lunch beside a group of Palestinian workers. Conversation turned to the deepening crisis in Hamas’ Gaza Strip, and one man said. ” It wasn’t like this when Israel controlled it. We had jobs, and were safe. Now, Hamas has made Gaza into a mess. No one wants to live there.” The other workers nodded emphatically.

Daniel Pipes, MEMRI, and others have collected Arab statements that show a preference for life under Israeli rule.

From the New York Times, August 29, 2006-

“Gaza is suffering under the yoke of anarchy and the swords of thugs,” Ghazi Hamad, a former Hamas newspaper editor and the spokesman for the current Hamas government, wrote in an article published Sunday in Al Ayyam, the Palestinian newspaper.
After so much optimism when Israelis pulled out of Gaza a year ago, he wrote, “life became a nightmare and an intolerable burden.”
He urged Palestinians to look to themselves, not to Israel, for the causes. But he appeared not to be placing the blame on Hamas or the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister, Ismail Haniya of Hamas. He said various armed groups in the Gaza Strip – most affiliated with Fatah, Hamas’s rival – were responsible for the chaos.
“We’ve all been attacked by the bacteria of stupidity,” Mr. Hamad wrote. “We have lost our sense of direction.” He addressed the armed groups: “Please have mercy on Gaza. Have mercy on us from your demagogy, chaos, guns, thugs, infighting. Let Gaza breathe a bit. Let it live.”In the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) elections that took place in January 2005, a significant percentage of Arab Jerusalemites stayed away from the polls out of concern that voting in them might jeopardize their status as residents of Israel. For example, the Associated Press quoted one Rabi Mimi, a 28-year-old truck driver, who expressed strong support for Mahmoud Abbas but said he had no plans to vote: “I can’t vote. I’m afraid I’ll get into trouble. I don’t want to take any chances.” Asked if he would vote, a taxi driver responded with indignation, “Are you kidding? To bring a corrupt [Palestinian] Authority here. This is just what we are missing.”

BBC Tries Al Durah Again: C+ (generous, on a curve — it is the BBC)

Gaza media battle in French court

By Henri Astier
BBC News

memorial for al durah
Memorial in Mali to Muhammad al-Durrah based on the disputed images

At the start of the second intifada, pictures of Muhammad al-Durrah and his father seeking shelter from gunfire were seen everywhere as a powerful symbol of Palestinian suffering and the brutality of the Israeli occupation.

Seven years on, a Paris court is set to look at the footage on Wednesday, as part of a libel case that could in turn become a cause celebre.

For both sides, the stakes could hardly be higher.

I understand that the journalist wants his story to be hot, but in fact, the stakes are high for Enderlin and France2, but less for Karsenty and we critics. Given the alleatory if not capricious nature of French justice, a decision against Karsenty by the judges will not slow us down as much as a decision against France2 would be devastating for them.

    The report is a fake that has fuelled hatred of Israel, the Jews and the West around the world
    Philippe Karsenty

Defendant Philippe Karsenty, who runs a French media watchdog website, says he wants to expose a forgery that he says could be every bit as damaging as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion — the notorious forged document that alleges a Jewish plot to rule the world.

“The report is a fake that has fuelled hatred of Israel, the Jews and the West around the world,” he told the BBC News website.

The plaintiff, state-owned TV channel France 2, says it is both fighting a smear campaign by conspiracy theorists and standing up for honest reporting.

“The arguments of the people we have sued run counter to the values and practice of journalism,” the author of the original report, France 2′s Jerusalem correspondent Charles Enderlin, told the BBC News website.

That is somewhat astonishing. Here we are, criticizing Enderlin for 1) running staged footage as if it were real; 2) lying repeatedly to cover up; 3) trusting his cameraman despite extensive evidence that he is dishonest, specifically on this story; 4) obstructing justice; 5) showing almost no familiarity with the details of the incident despite the controversy. And our “arguments run counter to the values and practice of journalism”?

Nidra Poller: “The « death » of Mohamed al Dura comes back to life”

The following article was published in Hebrew in the Israeli weekly Makor Rishon on October 15. This is the original English text. I have added links and photos where appropriate.

The « death » of Mohamed al Dura comes back to life
Nidra Poller
October 9 2007

The “death of Mohamed al Dura” myth is back in the news, and this time Charles Enderlin & France 2, respectively producer and broadcaster of the questionable “news report,” are on the defensive. In a surprise reversal of previous procedure, Appellate Court judge Laurent Trébucq has ordered France 2 to turn over the raw footage filmed by France 2 stringer Talal Abu Rahma at Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip on September 30, 2000. Analysts familiar with the affair know that projection of the 27-minute video will prove that the sole witnesses to the purported incident—Abu Rahma and Jamal al Dura—are not telling the truth. How will the inflated reputation of Charles Enderlin resist this laser scalpel?

Philippe Karsenty’s lawyer, Marc Levy, interjected the request for examination of the raw footage at the September 19th hearing of his appeal of an October 2006 defamation (libel, slander) conviction. On October 3rd the judge read out the court order to produce footage on or before October 31st, to be viewed in the courtroom on November 14th. The case in full will be heard on February 27th 2008.

The court order is all the more notable in that the authenticity of the al Dura report was not, strictly speaking, at issue in the original lawsuit. The court of first resort convicted Media-Ratings director Karsenty of slander on the grounds that the release he published, accusing Enderlin, France 2 and news director Arlette Chabot of producing, broadcasting, and defending a fake, was couched in unduly harsh language and based essentially on a dubious Metula News Agency investigation. Further, the court sustained the plaintiff’s argument that the absence of protest by the Israeli government indicated that Karsenty’s accusations were unfounded.

Setting aside the peculiarities of the French judicial system, let us focus on the raw footage that will be exposed to its eagle eye. Testifying under oath a few short days after the alleged al Dura killing, Abu Rahma swore that Israeli soldiers fired at the man and boy relentlessly for a total of 45 minutes during which he filmed, intermittently, for a total of 27 minutes. The 55-second “news report” broadcast by all the world’s networks within hours of the alleged incident is excerpted from those 27 minutes of raw footage. Jamal al Dura, identified as Mohamed’s father, corroborates—to this day–Abu Rahma’s version of the ordeal.

BBC Weighs In on Al Durah: Lightweight

So the BBC finally has an article on the Al Durah controversy. Alas, and predictably, it’s a lamentable example of the kind of uninformed journalism that really serves as a kind of rubble to fill in the places where one needs a facade of “coverage.” I can hear the editor saying, “Do an article on this, and get it to me by 5PM.” The reader can’t even know that there’s evidence available for him to “read and see more.”

Dispute rages over al-Durrah footage
By Martin Patience
BBC News, Jerusalem

They were images broadcast all over the world. The TV footage of a young Palestinian boy, Muhammad al-Durrah, and his father cowering in front of a wall as Israeli forces and Palestinians exchanged gunfire at a crossroads in Gaza.

The footage is once again under the spotlight

The 12-year-old Muhammad was killed during the incident in September 2000.

Woops. How little we learn. At least, for the sake of accuracy, I think Mr. Patience would want to say “allegedly.” It comes so trippingly off the tongue when it’s a claim coming from the Israeli side.

For Palestinians and many people around the world, the death – coming in the early weeks of the second Palestinian uprising – became a symbol of the brutality of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Initially, Israeli army officials said that the bullets “apparently” came from Israeli positions.
A subsequent military investigation concluded that it was “quite plausible that the boy was hit by Palestinian bullets in the course of an exchange of fire”.

But seven years on, the footage of the death of Muhammad al-Durrah is once again under the spotlight and the subject of a French court case.

Philippe Karsenty, a French financial analyst who has studied the killing, accuses the channel which first aired the footage, France 2, its correspondent Charles Enderlin and the Palestinian cameraman who filmed the incident of being complicit in staging the killing.

Woops again. Karsenty did not accuse Enderlin of being complicit (except in the cover-up), but of being the dupe of the Palestinian cameraman, who was complicit (if not the main figure involved) in staging the scene.

    This is a campaign designed to harass foreign correspondents and call into question all the footage shot in the occupied Palestinian territories
    Charles Enderlin
    France 2 correspondent

Mr Karsenty, who also runs a media watchdog group, was sued by the channel and correspondent. In 2006 a French court found that he had defamed them.

But now Mr Karsenty is appealing against the decision, and the court hearing the case has requested that France 2 release the unedited footage of the death.

Enderlin says that the whole case is a “smear campaign”.

“The footage is authentic,” he told the BBC News website. “This is a campaign designed to harass foreign correspondents and call into question all the footage shot in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

Ah Charles, how venal of you to accuse your critics of such base motives. Granted that anyone who sees your cameraman’s work – as will those in the courtroom on Wednesday – and those of the Reuters cameraman from the same day, has good reason to question any footage shot in the Palestinian territories. But that’s not what this campaign is about. It’s about you, your stunning incompetence as a real journalist (no one’s questioning your competence as a producer of material that goes on the news – very professional – just your competence as a journalist committed to the principles of presenting real news and ability to sort out the fakes. As for the pressure we wish to put on foreign correspondents, if asking them to check and make sure they’re not being duped like you is “harassment,” then so be it. We, the public, deserve at least that minimum of competence.

Media Intimidation Dossier

The intimidation of journalists is a tactic that has long been used by closed regimes, and the Arab regimes are certainly no exception. Countries such as Syria and Iraq would regularly abduct or murder journalists who angered those in power. Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Algeria, view the press as a mouthpiece for the government, and severely restrict the access of foreign journalists. The Palestinians have used intimidation of the media as a favorite tactic since the PLO heyday in Lebanon. They continue to threaten and assault Western journalists who try to document scenes that the Palestinians see as harmful to their cause (Ramallah lynching, Sept. 11th celebrations).

Press advocacy groups continue to blame Israel for media intimidation. The media watchdog and advocacy group Center for Media and Democracy, (which claims to be non-partisan-but here is some of the books the group has published-”Banana Republicans: How the Right-Wing is Turning America into a One-Party State”, “The Best War Ever: Lies, Damned Lies and the Mess in Iraq”) accepts as fact allegations of Israeli media intimidation ( “Israel Uses Intimidation Against the Media) , including those from sources such as Electronic Intifada, but has absolutely no documentation of Arab media intimidation. A search on the site for “Arab Media Intimidation” yields no results. Reporters Without Borders documents Arab violations well, but treats similarly journalists wounded in Israeli military actions, drawing parallels to intentional manipulations of the media.

The following is a dossier of some prominent examples of media intimidation from around the world. Additional examples are welcome.

Palestinian Intimidation of Journalists

“In the Palestinian’s Pocket: Journalists Doing PR for the PA” – By Dr. Alex Safian. CAMERA. October 19, 2000. After Ramallah lynching, Italian network sent a letter reassuring the PA that it did not release the footage, and that it would never report on anything that would harm the Palestinians. The article moves to the history of PLO media intimidation.

“Camera Alert: PA Blocks Coverage of Palestinians Cheering 9/11 Attacks” – By Lee Green. CAMERA. September 13, 2001. Palestinian Authority threatens reporters and confiscates film of Palestinians cheering after 9/11 attacks.

Notes from a Mark Steyn Talk

Mark Steyn spoke recently in Brookline at an event sponsored by CAMERA. It was a spectacular combination of brilliant and witty. Not a moment wasted; every sentence worth its weight in gold. Before the talk, Josh Katzen introduced him as a cross between Jean Kirkpatrick and Mel Brooks. I whispered to the person next to me, “He’s better than Kirkpatrick.” He responded, “… and not as funny as Mel Brooks.” But after hearing him speak, he may be as funny as Brooks.

Below some notes (filled out with my additions which are necessarily his words) and my comments.

Outsourcing the Future: The West’s World Historical Gamble
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The default of our society right now is the mode of cultural relativism, epitomized by Christian Amanpour who apparently can’t tell the difference between a Christian school where the girls have dress codes and a Islamist country like Taliban Afghanistan where, by law, women are forbidden by law to feel sunshine on their faces.

And women who violate that law get acid thrown in their faces.

I was here this year on September 11, and heard Governor Patrick speak about 9-11: “a mean and nasty and bitter attack on the USA… a failure of human beings to understand each other, to love each other.” It’s the “each other” that’s the problem. I am not interested in “loving each other”, as much as I would love to understand. We do not live in a cheesy pop-song where “All you need is love…”

Steyn has here brought together two linked phenomena. On the one hand, cultural relativism — various forms of moral equivalence (we’re as bad as they are) and inversion (we’re worse than they are) — and on the other, what I call “liberal cognitive egocentrism.” Amanpour must “level the playing field” lest she be seen as unduly critical of Islam.

Patrick’s language is a cross between vague allusions to the Christian belief in the power of love, and classic liberal cognitive egocentrism: we’re all fine folks, let’s be nice to each other; “we can work it out” so that everyone wins. It’s not that this stance is illegitimate. Indeed, it works, maybe even most of the time (depending on how good you are at doing it). Civil society is the near-miraculous product of getting a critical mass of commoners to adopt these attitudes towards fellow citizens. But on those rare occasions, when this generous approach doesn’t work, applying it backfires.

The West is engaged in a world historical gamble on the power of cultural relativism to solve a series of civilizational dilemmas. At the moment, the Western world is beset by systemic structural defects, the most massive being demographic. The West is in demographic decline just as it has created a welfare state that need increasing population to survive, a problem still more serious in Europe, where both demographic decline and the cost of welfare is steeper than in the USA. As a result, we are outsourcing the future.

NPR on Danish Anti-Immigration:Defense of Liberal Freedoms or Xenophobia?

Here is NPR’s take on Denmark’s anti-immigration backlash.

Danes’ Anti-Immigrant Backlash Marks Radical Shift
by Sylvia Poggioli

Karen Jespersen
Morning Edition, November 20, 2006 · An anti-immigrant backlash, bordering on xenophobia, is sweeping across Europe. Sentiments once associated with ultra right-wing parties are becoming mainstream. Many taboos are being broken — nowhere more starkly than in Denmark — the erstwhile poster child of the welcoming and nurturing welfare state.

Earlier this year, that haven of solidarity and liberalism was shaken by violent protests and deaths in the Muslim world over cartoons of Mohammed that were published in a Danish paper. Suddenly, Danes began to see their own Muslim immigrants as a threat to their national identity.

Europe’s Anti-Immigration Trend: A Move in the Right Direction?

Since September 11th, there has been a growing anti-immigrant groundswell in European countries that have traditionally had large immigrant communities as well as a deep dedication to their welfare state.

Is there hope for Europe? With demographics working against them, is it too late for Europeans to make a goal-line stand in defense of their traditional values? Are these efforts enough to counter-balance European policies that are based in fear and misguided openness?

Or maybe Europe is too xenophobic to implement a moral but effective policy toward Muslim immigrants. America has largely been able to absorb Muslims who do not become radicalized, and are able to live and work as productive Americans. Is what we are seeing in some European countries racism or timely awakening?

It is important not to forget that each country must be considered in its own context as well. Domestic politics, or even opportunism on the part of politicians, plays a role, as many claim in the case of Denmark.

This is the first of a series of posts on European anti-immigration. I expect an enlightening discussion in response to the series on the nature of the problem, European political culture, and the steps taken in that culture to confront the problem.

Karen Jespersen is Denmark’s new Minister of Social Affairs. Her break with the Social Democrats and traditional leftist policies is proof of opportunism to her critics. But she claims that her hard-line immigration policy is in defense of the liberal freedoms she has always valued.

The following article appeared in the November 10th edition of The New York Times.

Denmark’s Unabashed Lightning Rod on Immigration
By JOHN TAGLIABUE

COPENHAGEN

KAREN JESPERSEN is so new to her job as Denmark’s minister of social affairs that she felt compelled to apologize to a visitor that she could not identify the painter of the canvases hanging in her offices, because she still has her predecessor’s furnishings. It was a rare admission, for Ms. Jespersen does not often apologize.

Since her appointment to the post in September, she has emerged as a stalwart defender of a country’s right to require immigrants to accept its basic values and, inevitably, a lightning rod in Europe’s continuing debate over immigration. And for a onetime student leftist, prominent journalist and former official with the Social Democratic Party, her new role in the conservative government of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen represents the latest step in a remarkable personal odyssey.

Mideast Journalism’s Public Secret and the News We Get:

This article is up at PJMedia

La version française, traduite par Menahem Macina, se trouve ici.
Al-Dura et le “secret d’intérêt public” du journalisme au Moyen-Orient

In the summer of 2006, Reuters News Agency, humiliated when bloggers caught them duped by obvious photographic manipulation, fired both the photographer and the chief of their photographic bureau. They then removed all the photographer’s photos from their news archive. In so doing, they acted decisively in punishing two of the cardinal sins of modern journalism: “creating evidence” and getting duped by created evidence.

These principles – i.e., the ethics of a free press – go so deep, that Westerners apparently have difficulty imagining that others might not share our commitments. Thus few people believe claims that footage of Muhammad al Durah, the twelve year old boy allegedly gunned down by Israelis at Netzarim Junction on September 30, 2000, was staged. Charles Enderlin, the correspondent for France2 who presented the tale to the world, derisively and successfully dismisses such claims as a conspiracy theory as ludicrous as those about 9-11. How absurd: Palestinian journalists would not do such a thing; and if they did, the Western media would catch it. To this day, most journalists still ask, “Who killed al Durah?” not, “Was he killed in the footage we see?”

take6
The last time we see al Durah on Talal’s camera:
He holds his hand over his eyes not his allegedly
deadly stomach wound. He lifts his up his arm and
looks around. Enderlin had already declared him
dead in an earlier scene, and (therefore?) cut this
scene from his broadcast.

And yet, one of the major differences between Western journalism and self-styled “Islamic media men” emerges on just this issue of the permissibility of staging the news and attitudes towards what constitutes honest information. According to the Islamic Mass Media Charter (Jakarta, 1980), the sacred task of Muslim media men [sic], is on the one hand to protect the Umma from “imminent dangers,” indeed to “censor all materials,” towards that end, and on the other, “To combat Zionism and its colonialist policy of creating settlements as well as its ruthless suppression of the Palestinian people.

So when asked why he had inserted unconnected footage of an Israeli soldier firing a rifle into the Al Durah sequence in order to make it look like the Israelis had killed the boy in cold blood, an official of PA TV responded:

These are forms of artistic expression, but all of this serves to convey the truth… We never forget our higher journalistic principles to which we are committed of relating the truth and nothing but the truth.

When Talal abu Rahmah received an award for his footage of Muhammad al Durah in Morocco in 2001, he told a reporter, “I went into journalism to carry on the fight for my people.”

These remarks serve as an important prelude to considering the France2 rushes that will be shown in court in Paris on November 14 in the Enderlin France2 vs. Philippe Karsenty defamation case. These tapes were filmed by Talal abu Rahmah on September 30, 2000, and for seven years, Enderlin has claimed that the tapes prove him right and show the boy in such unbearable death throes that he cut them out of his report. But several experts who have seen the tapes (this author included) claim that the only scene of al Durah that Enderlin cut was the final scene where he seems alive and well; and still more disturbingly the rest of the rushes are filled with staged scenes. Indeed there seems to be a kind of “public secret” at work on the Arab “street”: people fake injury, others evacuate them hurriedly (and without stretchers) past Palestinian cameramen like Talal, who use Western video equipment to record these improvised scenes. Pallywood: the Palestinian movie industry.

Which brings us to a problem more complex than the fairly straightforward observation that Palestinian journalists play by a different set of rules in which this kind of manipulation of the “truth” is entirely legitimate. What do Western journalists do with these products of propaganda? Do they know these are fakes or are they fooled? Do they tell the cameramen working for them and using their equipment that filming such staged scenes is unethical and unacceptable? And if they do, why do cameramen who have worked for them for years – Talal worked for Enderlin for over a decade when he took these rushes – continue to film these scenes. And how often do our journalists run this staged footage as real news?

Here the evidence provided by the Al Durah affair suggests that, in some sense, journalists are “in” on the public secret. When representatives of France2 were confronted with the pervasive evidence of staging in Talal’s footage, they both responded the same way. “Oh, they always do that, it’s a cultural thing,” said Enderlin to me in Jerusalem. “Yes Monsieur, but, you know, it’s always like that,” said Didier Eppelbaum to Denis Jeambar, Daniel Leconte, and Luc Rosenzweig in Paris.

As an echo of this astonishing private complacency, Clément Weill-Raynal of France3 made a comment to a journalist that he meant as a criticism of Karsenty:

Karsenty is so shocked that fake images were used and edited in Gaza, but this happens all the time everywhere on television and no TV journalist in the field or a film editor would be shocked.

The implications of this remark undermine its very use in his argument: How can Karsenty defame Enderlin by accusing him of using staged footage when, as Clément Weill-Raynal here admits, everybody does it? Is it wrong to do this? And if so, why does Weill-Raynal criticize Karsenty for blowing the whistle? And if not, where’s the defamation?

We may have stumbled here onto the very nature of public secrets and the value of a good reputation: everyone can cheat so long as no one is caught. It’s okay for the insiders to know, but the effectiveness of the (mis)information depends on the public not knowing. As Daniel Leconte reproached Eppelbaum: “the media may know [about this staging], but the public doesn’t.” Indeed, the public must not know. CNN advertises itself as “The Most Trusted Name in News,” not because it struggles against the influences, like access journalism, that destroy trustworthiness, but because it knows how important trust is to their audience public consumers of news. Thus, even if Western journalists use staged footage regularly, they cannot admit it. And, if denial doesn’t work, then, apparently, the next move is to say, “it’s nothing; everyone does it.”

An incident at Ramallah, however, suggests that Western journalists have systematically submitted to Palestinian demands that they practice Palestinian journalism. On October 12, 2000, to cries of “Revenge for the blood of Muhammad al Durah,” Palestinian men tore to pieces the bodies of two Israeli reservists. Aware of the potential damage, Palestinians attacked any journalist taking pictures. And yet, one Italian crew working for a private news station, at great risk to their lives, smuggled out the footage. Eager to avoid being blamed, the representative of Italy’s “official television station RAI,” wrote to the PA that his station would never do such a thing,

…because we always respect (will continue to respect) the journalistic procedures with the Palestinian Authority for (journalistic) work in Palestine…

Just what are these “journalistic procedures”? Do they resemble the rules of the Jakarta charter, including the censorship of anything damaging to the Palestinian cause (no matter how true), and publication of anything damaging to the Israeli cause (no matter how inauthentic)? The PA, apparently unaware that this is not how journalism should be done in the West, published the letter.

But on the side where modern journalism allegedly reigns, such revelations were profoundly embarrassing: even the normally timid Israeli government “temporarily suspended” the press card of Roberto Cristiano, and no one in the normally aggressive Western media objected. Cristiano had violated the basic rule of Western journalism’s omerta, and openly admitted shameful practices. The public consumer of Mainstream Media (MSM) “news” needs to ask, “How many journalists adhere to these Palestinian rules, and how much does that adherence distort, even invert, our understanding of what goes on in this interminable conflict? Can we afford this “public secret”?

Nor can we expect the MSM to discuss this willingly. On the contrary, awareness of the importance of trust often enough leads journalists to hide their mistakes rather than admit and learn from them. As a French friend put it to me: “No one admits publicly to mistakes in France. It’s a sign of weakness.” While these are the rules of honor-shame culture, civil society depends on having people prefer honesty to saving face, no matter how painful that may be. And while we cannot expect people to volunteer for public humiliation, we can and must insist that there are limits to both individual and corporate efforts to resist correction.

This is Charles Enderlin’s problem with the al Durah case. He has, with his eagerness to get the scoop, foisted upon an unsuspecting world, a nuclear bomb in the world of information warfare. As Bob Simon put it, to the background of a medley of Pallywood images: “In modern warfare, one picture is worth a thousand weapons.” And no image has done more to inspire the desire for violent revenge and global Jihad than this “icon of hatred.” To admit his mistakes, to release the public from this image’s thrall and alert us to the possibility that such colossal errors not only occur, but go years without correction, would destroy Enderlin’s career.

Moreover, Enderlin’s failure, at this point, seven years later, implicates the larger MSM who, with their refusal to even allow the critique to air, protect him. This dilemma may partly explain why the MSM in France has scarcely mentioned this case; why they had nothing to say about the initial trial until Karsenty lost, at which point they leapt into print to reassure the public that the image choc of the Intifada “was not staged.” Enderlin, after all, is not some Palestinian hack, even if he trusts and therefore regularly channels the work of such “journalists.” He is perhaps the best known and most widely trusted European correspondent in the Middle East. Surely, as a Jew and an Israeli, he would not report false stories that blackened his own country’s name. They must be true.

More ominously, just as Al Durah represents a “higher truth” for Muslims — a justification for hatred, a call to revenge — so does it carry symbolic freight with Europeans. Catherine Nay, a respected news anchor for Europe1, welcomed the image:

The Death of Muhammad cancels out, erases that of the Jewish child, his hands in the air from the SS in the Warsaw Ghetto.

al durah warsaw ghetto
From Ramsey Clark’s International Action website.

How ironic! The Europeans use an image produced by those who admire the Nazis and dream of genocidal victory over the Jews, to erase their own guilt over the Holocaust. In so doing, Europe has “atoned” for its sins against the Jews by empowering its Muslim extremists.

So not to admit such mistakes, destroys the very fabric of the civil society that allows a free press. In the long history of blood libels, no people have benefited from embracing the twisted hatreds they evoked.

At what point does self-protection become self-destruction, not only for the journalists who deny their errors no matter how costly, but for the public that believes them? As an Israeli journalist remarked: “Every day I have to walk the fine line between loyalty to my sources and loyalty to my audience.” How grievously have our journalists betrayed us, their audience, for the sake of finding favor in the eyes of their sources?

Palestinian journalists, in their own ethical declarations, argue that their role is to defend their cause and weaken its enemies. Journalism for them is war by other means; the media, a theater of war. Honesty and fairness do not intrude on this ethical prescription, but merely present a requirement for versimilitude designed to deceive susceptible Western audiences and incite Muslim rage.

In this clash of journalistic cultures, how often has the Western media played the “useful idiots” to Palestinian demands. How often have they presented Palestinian “truths” to us as “news”? And if they have done so as often and as destructively as Pallywood and its greatest success, the Al Durah Affair, suggests, how much longer will they persist?

A First-Hand Account of Shi’ite-Sunni Jihad Cooperation

A common argument by opponents of the War on Terror is that there is actually no significant enemy, just several small terrorist groups with limited capabilities. They point to the animosity between Shi’ites and Sunnis as proof that one cannot claim that there is an enemy that includes Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and Al-Qaeda. This is one Paul Krugman’s central arguments in his claims that Islamofascism does not exist.

Terrorist groups belonging to the various strains of Islam have always been more than happy to put aside any differences in order to cooperate in attacking their common enemy. This is evidenced in Iranian (Shia) cooperation with Hamas (Sunni) through Hezbollah (Shia) and Syria (Allawite). Of course, upon defeating the West they would almost surely turn on each other, but that does not mean that they do not currently constitute a bloc that the West can refer to as its enemy.

The following translation, from MEMRI.org, is an al-Qaeda member’s account of his stay in Iran that provides another example of the cooperation between Shi’ites and Sunnis in their Jihad against the West.

Al-Qaeda Member’s Account of His Stay in Iran
Columnist Fares bin Hazam, who specializes in issues relating to Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, published in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh a personal account by a former Al-Qaeda member of Saudi origin. The article, titled “Iran Recruits Members to Al-Qaeda at Tens of Thousands Dollars a Month,” describes the assistance the former fighter and his friends received from Iranian authorities after they fled Afghanistan, as well as Iranian attempts to recruit him as an Iranian agent in Saudi Arabia.

The following are excerpts from the account:

“After the disintegration of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan at the end of 2001 as a result of the American attack and the coming to power of other Afghan forces in the country, instructions were received from our leadership to retreat from Kabul in the direction of Kandahar. In the month of Ramadan, we received instructions from our commander to leave for Iran in order to seek refuge there. We arrived in Iran via Pakistan, where we did not stay very long. Our group consisted of about 30 fighters, among them Faisal Al-Dakhil, ‘Amr Al-Shehri [both killed in 2004] and other prominent figures wanted by the Saudi government.

“We were aware that Afghani [Islamist] leader Gulboddin Hekmatyar, who resided in Iran [at that time], was acting as an intermediary and liaison [between us and] Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Hekmatyar promised us accommodation in the border city of Zehdan [in southeastern Iran], where the majority of the residents are Baluchi Sunnis. There we met with Al-Qaeda commander Abu Hafs Al-Mauritani, who had earlier opposed the September 11 attacks. [Al-Mauritani] assured us that we were in a safe place, and that we would be questioned by Iranian intelligence services in Teheran, who would provide for all our needs during our stay in Iran.

“Our numbers dwindled: only 10 of us remained after about two-thirds of our group had disappeared, Al-Dakhil and Al-Shehri among them. We moved to Teheran and met with the interrogators. They proposed that I collaborate with them from abroad, [that is,] from my country [Saudi Arabia], supplying them with information that they would need in the future. Their offer shocked me. I declined, and then was overcome with fear that the refusal would [harm the chances of] my release and return to my country. The interrogator began enticing me: ‘[You will receive] a monthly salary of $10,000, an Iranian passport, and military training with Hizbullah in Lebanon.’

“However, I was firm in my refusal to cooperate in any way. All I wanted was to leave. The [Iranian] officer said: ‘You and us, we are both fighting the same enemy, the American [enemy], as well as everyone who supports him and helps him to remain in the region. Your jihad is our jihad, and a joint jihad operation of this kind is a duty incumbent upon us all. Do not fear, we will release you, and when you [decide to] accept our offer, you will have to contact (…) in your country, and within a few days we will convey to him [instructions for] you.’

“I do not know whether the rest [of our group] received the same offer. We did not speak with one another on this matter, but we were all given travel permits and travel privileges. The intelligence officer told us that he would stamp our passports with a date preceding the September 11 attacks. As far as I can remember, the date was June, while we were already at the very end of 2001. He also explained to us how to act at the airport security checkpoints through which we would be passing en route to our country, so as to avoid being suspected of fleeing the war in Afghanistan.”(1)

Endnote:
(1) Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), November 6, 2007

Prof. Barry Rubin on W/M: “Propagandists and not Scholars”

(Post by Lazar)
The following, a fisk on an account of Walt/Mearsheimer’s talk at the SOAS, University of London. is by Prof. Barry Rubin, Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and Editor of Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. Prof. Rubin put in bold those statements by W/M that he considers clear lies that they cannot prove.

Walt and Mearsheimer (W&M) spoke before a packed room at the Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre at SOAS, University of London, on Thursday 8th November at noon. The 300-seat hall was full with at least another 50 people seated on the floor or standing. Almost the entire audience was comprised of students. The talk was sponsored by the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, an academic department at SOAS.

W&M each took turns giving presentations which lasted about 35 minutes in total, and then they took about 1 hour 10 minutes of questions.

Here are some quotes and observations of the event.

Walt: One can speak freely of the oil lobby, the Cuban-American lobby, or the gun lobby (National Rifle Association), but speaking about the Israel lobby is “like grabbing the third rail with both hands.”

Obviously the issue is not to speak of but to slander.

Now that the Cold War is over, “the special relationship between America and Israel is a strategic liability.”

This is debatable and legitimate to discuss.

The lobby “is not synonymous with Jewish Americans. It is defined by the political action it takes, not ethnicity.”

Obviously to cover themselves from the charge of antisemitism. but what if it can be shown that only a small minority of the lobby advocated the Iraq war? would these two by ignoring that fact then be involved in a traditional antisemitic theme of blaming the vast majority of Jews or the Jewish state for the actions of a small group. And note that those officials and political figures most involved in pushing the war had not been part of the lobby. if they were pro-Israel so were many who were opposed to the war or took no position of advocacy. The bottom line here is that this is a 21st century blood libel, the creation of a fictional crime to stir up hate against the normative–though of course not unanimous–Jewish position of support for Israel.

More Fake but Accurate: “‘Peace Theology’ for the Morally Challenged”

(Post by Lazar)

The following piece, by Dr. Charles Jacobs of the David Project, appears in today’s Jewish Advocate. Sabeel Conference’s use of a fabricated Nelson Mandela quotation is technique that we have seen before by the enemies of Israel (for an in-depth discussion of the phenomenon by RL, click here). This is the “false but accurate” technique, ignoring inconvenient facts to arrive at the desired conclusion. It is a tactic of believers who believe that convenient fictions- “pious forgeries” in medieval Europe- is an acceptable means of spreading their message.

In the al-Dura affair, the facts that Israelis were not responsible for shooting the boy and that the footage was likely staged, do not trouble those who say that the al-Dura affair, true or not, conveys a higher truth. In the words of Adam Rose,

” …the critical question in an examination of the dynamics of Mohammed al-Dura’s “martyrdom ” is not whether the singular “Story of Mohammed al-Dura” is true, but whether the “universal Mohammed al-Dura Story is true.”

The dangers this type of thinking poses to our trust in Western media is apparent. This attitude is anathema to Western civilization, built on the veneration of truth over ideology.

 

By Dr. Charles Jacobs
Friday November 9, 2007

About a thousand people attended the Old South Church anti-Israel hate fest a few weeks back. Every one of them was handed this quote from Nelson Mandela:
“Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.”

Pretty powerful words – who, after all, can disagree with Nelson Mandela?

But here’s what I’ve learned from the heroic blogger Joel Pollack: “Nelson Mandela never said, wrote or endorsed those words. They are the creation of an Arab journalist named Arjan El Fassed.” When Pollack exposed El Fassed’s fraud earlier this year, El Fassed claimed, “There is no possible basis for Pollak to say I intended people to believe the memo was written by anyone other than myself.” Of course not.

Sure could have fooled all those truth-bound folks who put on the show at Old South. Then again, this particular lie wouldn’t matter to them, as their entire enterprise was based on the racist falsehood – the new “Big Lie” – that Israel is a racist nation. Gender apartheid, the black slave trade, execution of gays and apostates in the Muslim world? Not worthy of their “concern.” Wonder why that is.

But the Mandela lie might not matter either to Rev. Nancy Taylor, whose church hosted the conference. She has, we read in the Globe, adopted a new and wondrous ontology: don’t worry about conflicting claims about what is true. “Truth is not singular,” she told the reporter. “There are two truths.” There is the truth that Israel is an apartheid state and the truth that it is not. The first, expressed by her friends who hate Israel, and the second by her friends who don’t. But this is not a problem. Let two truths reign. Voila! Can’t we all get along?

Anyone who sends his child to college soon finds out that Western culture has collapsed in the face of cultural relativism. “Truth” – now only written with quotation marks – has gone out the window, and different “narratives” are all we have to go on. (You can major in this sort of thing at Harvard’s Divinity School in the name of religious studies.)
But it took the Rev. Taylor to bring this esoteric (and expensive – this is college, after all) philosophy to street level, for the common folk. Now all can wonder at the healing power of “two truth-ism.” All these centuries of painful battling over what really is in the world – and what is not, could have been avoided. The Pope is infallible, and at the same time, he is not. Jews really do run a racist state, and at the same time they do not. “Peace Theology” for the morally challenged.


Hamas Gets Serious About Its Media Efforts

The following post, by Tom Gross, is from the National Review’s media blog. Hamas knows how to use the media well, both to indoctrinate their own population and to manipulate our journalists. The fact that Hamas, ruling over a defunct economy in Gaza, is willing to invest so much money to a media center attests not only to how little they care about the welfare of Palestinians, but also to the importance of media in 21st century warfare…

Hamas plans to build $200m. Hollywood-style media city [Tom Gross]

Scarcely a day goes by without Hamas’s American and European apologists claiming that there is now no money in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Not only are tens of millions of dollars being taken into Gaza every month, as Ha’aretz revealed yesterday, but now the Associated Press reports today that:

Hamas plans to build $200m. Hollywood-style media city (AP, Nov. 7, 2007)
It’s a tale worthy of its own movie script: The Gaza Strip’s isolated and cash-strapped Hamas rulers plan to build a $200 million media city and movie production house that will be part tourist attraction and part effort to cement control of the territory it seized by force in June.

… Hamas envisions a glittering facility with production and graphics studios, satellite technology, gardens, water ponds, a children’s entertainment area and an array of cafes and restaurants, said the Felasteen daily, a Hamas paper.

… Hamas launched a satellite channel last year, offering bearded young men reading the news, and Islamic music layered over footage of masked militants firing rockets into Israel. Hamas loyalists also run at least five news Web sites, two newspapers and a radio station.

Some previous Hamas productions have generated unflattering headlines. In one show last year, a high-pitched Mickey Mouse lookalike called Farfour preached Islamic domination to children.

… Talal Okal, a Palestinian political writer close to Hamas, said the announcement was an important first step toward obtaining full control over the media. “Hamas realizes the importance of the media,” Okal said.

Under Hamas, press freedom is limited in Gaza. On Tuesday, Hamas police stormed the house of reporter Hisham Sakallah, an editor of a local news Web site [which does not follow the Hamas line], and confiscated his computer and archives.

The PCP Myths of the West at War

(Post by Lazar ) The following article appeared in The American Legion Magazine. The author, Ralph Peters, gets at the heart of the issue — myths circulated by our media and politicians weaken our ability to wage war on Jihadi terrorists. This is done by a number of methods. There is defeatism (“Victory is impossible”, “Insurgencies can never be defeated”), belief that war is always to be avoided (“Only negotiations can solve our problems”, “When we fight back, we only provoke our enemies”), and that classic PCP characteristic, Western self-criticism (“Our invasion of Iraq caused our terrorist problems”, “It’s all Israel’s fault”). An understanding of the history of America’s involvement in the world, especially in the last century, does a great deal to dispel these harmful myths that are all too common in our society.

12 Myths of 21st-Century War
Ralph Peters
November 2007
Unaware of the cost of freedom and served by leaders without military expertise, Americans have started to believe whatever’s comfortable

We’re in trouble. We’re in danger of losing more wars. Our troops haven’t forgotten how to fight. We’ve never had better men and women in uniform. But our leaders and many of our fellow Americans no longer grasp what war means or what it takes to win.

Thanks to those who have served in uniform, we’ve lived in such safety and comfort for so long that for many Americans sacrifice means little more than skipping a second trip to the buffet table.

Two trends over the past four decades contributed to our national ignorance of the cost, and necessity, of victory. First, the most privileged Americans used the Vietnam War as an excuse to break their tradition of uniformed service. Ivy League universities once produced heroes. Now they resist Reserve Officer Training Corps representation on their campuses.

Yet, our leading universities still produce a disproportionate number of U.S. political leaders. The men and women destined to lead us in wartime dismiss military service as a waste of their time and talents. Delighted to pose for campaign photos with our troops, elected officials in private disdain the military. Only one serious presidential aspirant in either party is a veteran, while another presidential hopeful pays as much for a single haircut as I took home in a month as an Army private.

Second, we’ve stripped in-depth U.S. history classes out of our schools. Since the 1960s, one history course after another has been cut, while the content of those remaining focuses on social issues and our alleged misdeeds. Dumbed-down textbooks minimize the wars that kept us free. As a result, ignorance of the terrible price our troops had to pay for freedom in the past creates absurd expectations about our present conflicts. When the media offer flawed or biased analyses, the public lacks the knowledge to make informed judgments.

This combination of national leadership with no military expertise and a population that hasn’t been taught the cost of freedom leaves us with a government that does whatever seems expedient and a citizenry that believes whatever’s comfortable. Thus, myths about war thrive.

Myth No. 1: War doesn’t change anything.

This campus slogan contradicts all of human history. Over thousands of years, war has been the last resort – and all too frequently the first resort – of tribes, religions, dynasties, empires, states and demagogues driven by grievance, greed or a heartless quest for glory. No one believes that war is a good thing, but it is sometimes necessary. We need not agree in our politics or on the manner in which a given war is prosecuted, but we can’t pretend that if only we laid down our arms all others would do the same.

Wars, in fact, often change everything. Who would argue that the American Revolution, our Civil War or World War II changed nothing? Would the world be better today if we had been pacifists in the face of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan?

Certainly, not all of the changes warfare has wrought through the centuries have been positive. Even a just war may generate undesirable results, such as Soviet tyranny over half of Europe after 1945. But of one thing we may be certain: a U.S. defeat in any war is a defeat not only for freedom, but for civilization. Our enemies believe that war can change the world. And they won’t be deterred by bumper stickers.

Myth No. 2: Victory is impossible today.

Victory is always possible, if our nation is willing to do what it takes to win. But victory is, indeed, impossible if U.S. troops are placed under impossible restrictions, if their leaders refuse to act boldly, if every target must be approved by lawyers, and if the American people are disheartened by a constant barrage of negativity from the media. We don’t need generals who pop up behind microphones to apologize for every mistake our soldiers make. We need generals who win.

And you can’t win if you won’t fight. We’re at the start of a violent struggle that will ebb and flow for decades, yet our current generation of leaders, in and out of uniform, worries about hurting the enemy’s feelings.

One of the tragedies of our involvement in Iraq is that while we did a great thing by removing Saddam Hussein, we tried to do it on the cheap. It’s an iron law of warfare that those unwilling to pay the butcher’s bill up front will pay it with compound interest in the end. We not only didn’t want to pay that bill, but our leaders imagined that we could make friends with our enemies even before they were fully defeated. Killing a few hundred violent actors like Moqtada al-Sadr in 2003 would have prevented thousands of subsequent American deaths and tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths. We started something our national leadership lacked the guts to finish.

Despite our missteps, victory looked a great deal less likely in the early months of 1942 than it does against our enemies today. Should we have surrendered after the fall of the Philippines? Today’s opinionmakers and elected officials have lost their grip on what it takes to win. In the timeless words of Nathan Bedford Forrest, “War means fighting, and fighting means killing.”

And in the words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

The Augean Stables at Work: Ideology Trumps Objectivity at Haaretz

(Post by Lazar) A.J. Liebling once said, “Newspapers write about other newspapers with circumspection”. As is usually the case, the Israelis are the exception to the rule. The following Jerusalem Post op-ed, by Isi Liebler, excoriates Haaretz, and in particular its editor David Landau, for its bias against Israel. At the heart of the accusation lie basic journalistic ethics. In order for media to serve its role in a democracy, the journalist in the Western world must be impartial, and not let personal prejudices and political motivation stand in the way of journalistic standards. Landau’s boast that he had intentionally “soft-pedaled” allegations of corruption against Prime Ministers Sharon and Olmert in order not to weaken their support as they worked toward a peace process should jolt any observer who understands the value of a responsible free press in a democratic society. The fact that Landau felt comfortable airing such a transgression is perhaps more alarming. It suggests an atmosphere among journalists in Israel, indeed across the West, that condones the promotion of a certain ideology at the expense of the standards that should serve as a guide to Western media.

(Interlinear comments by RL)

Shame on Ha-Aretz
Isi Liebler
November 6, 2007

We frequently boast that notwithstanding its limitations, the Israeli media is unfettered by government intervention and could serve as a role model for a free press in any democracy.

As in most Western countries, Israeli journalists are inclined to the Left and substantially outnumber the more conservative-minded. In fact, one constantly hears complaints that to hold right-wing views is a major stumbling block in obtaining promotion in the media world. But that is not unique to Israel.

The majority of Israelis who read a newspaper on a daily basis read one of the tabloids. In that sense, the broadsheet Haaretz stands alone. It presents as a serious liberal newspaper and aspires to assume the mantle of a Hebrew-language counterpart to The New York Times. Despite a limited circulation, it is extraordinarily influential and read by most opinion makers.

Its news coverage and access to inside information exceeds that of the tabloids. However, whereas it carries superb pieces on culture and society, with especially insightful articles on religious issues, its frequent endorsement of radical policies does tend to increasingly link Haaretz with fringe rather than mainstream opinion.

Indeed, many would even argue that a considerable proportion of Haaretz editorials and op-ed columns are politically off the wall. Its op-ed and magazine articles demonizing Israel and inclined toward post-Zionism are increasingly being quoted by Arabs and anti-Israeli propagandists. In fact, a man from Mars observing the level of the newspaper’s frequent vitriolic condemnations of Israeli governments could understandably be misled into believing that some Haaretz writers are consciously acting as propagandists for the Palestinian cause.

I had precisely this experience when I presented the al Durah Affair to a class on Communications Revolutions, and assigned a number of readings, including Ha-Aretz’s coverage of the Israeli commission of inquiry. One of the students commented,
“I thought Ha-Aretz was an Israeli paper.”
“It is,” I replied. “Why do you ask?”
“Because it sounds like a Palestinian paper.”
It wasn’t just its critique, but the tone of it… as if the authors were trying hard to avoid embarrassment at the flaws in the report by jumping in ahead of everyone else and showing they could be more contemptuous than anyone. Don’t you shoot at someone on “my” side, I’ll do it for you, and in so doing, prove that at least “I” am a good person.