John Rosenthal, one of the best journalists covering the strange world of French politics and Jihad, has an article at PJMedia on the Kafka-in-Wonderland world of the infamous Chamber 17 of the French court system, dedicated to cases of defamation. In this case, to which I have only alluded, a French Christian is found guilty of “anti-Semitism” for posting an article by an Israeli Jew, Stephane Juffa, criticizing, among others, Charles Enderlin, that “veritable pyromaniac of war.” The logic of the accusation brought by Enderlin is nothing short of staggering, and the guilty verdict of the judge, Nicholas Bonnal (who has, at other times, shown sober judgment), mind-boggling. I quote some key passages below.
Are the Al-Dura Critics Anti-Semites
Is a [Christian who quotes a] Jew who accuses another Jew of “cowardice” and “self-hatred” in the face of anti-Semitism thereby himself guilty of anti-Semitism?
In the strange, through-the-looking-glass world of French justice apparently he is.
The setting is yet again the Al-Dura affair and, more specifically, the legal campaign conducted by Middle East correspondent Charles Enderlin and his employer, French public television network France2, against critics who have challenged the authenticity of Enderlin’s, in the meanwhile, infamous September 2000 report depicting the Palestinian boy Mohammad Al-Dura allegedly being shot dead by Israeli forces.
Nicolas Ciarapica is an evangelical Christian and the owner of the website Blogdei. On January 8, he was summoned to appear before the 17th Chamber of the Parisian county court (Tribunal de Grande Instance): the same jurisdiction, specializing in “press-related” offenses, that has also heard the other Enderlin “defamation” cases. Unlike the defendants in the other cases, however, Ciarapica was not accused merely of having “defamed” Charles Enderlin, but rather of having “defamed” him, more exactly, inasmuch as a Jew: hence, the specific charge of what in France is known as “racial defamation.” In other words, Ciarapica stood accused of having promulgated anti-Semitic “hate speech” directed at Enderlin.
The object of the suit was an article titled “French Jews Are Completely Fed Up,” which appeared on Blogdei in February 2006. As Ciarapica explained to the court:
I try to [post articles] that are of interest for the evangelical Protestant community. Like a lot of other members of my faith, we pay attention to Israel…. Every time one starts accusing the Jews, it is a sign that there is something wrong in society. The average French person watches the television and it is always the same. He never sees a report concerning the Jews that allows him to have empathy for them. I am shocked by this. We try to engage in “re-information”: to present a different tonality. We looked for different sources of information. We found the Mena. (Source: Guysen News; link in French)
The “Mena” in question is the French-language Israel-based Metula News Agency. As so happens, it is the Mena that has undoubtedly done more than any other French-language news source to expose the contradictions surrounding France2’s original Al-Dura report and to advance the claim that the report was a fake. As consequence, France2’s and Charles Enderlin’s legal campaign against their critics in France has, in large measure, played itself out as a sort of proxy war against the Mena. This proxy-character is especially obvious in the Ciarapica case, since the litigious text comes from the Mena and was written by Mena editor in chief Stéphane Juffa. Ciarapica merely reprinted the text – or, more precisely, just its second part – on Blogdei, after it had already appeared on the Mena website. Parts one and two of “French Jews Are Completely Fed Up” [Le grand ras le bol des Français juifs] remain freely available on the Mena site (here and here).
The authorship of Juffa makes the charge of anti-Semitism even more mind-boggling. If formally it is Ciarapica, the pro-Israel Evangelical, who is accused of anti-Semitism, via him, it is none other than Juffa, the Jewish editor of the Mena, who stands accused. But what truly renders the charge a well-nigh perfect inversion of both reality and moral responsibility is not so much the identity of the article’s author as its content: for, as one could already infer from the title, “French Jews Are Completely Fed Up” consists precisely of a denunciation of anti-Semitism in France. Indeed, the immediate context for Juffa’s piece is the most heinous anti-Semitic crime in recent French history: the murder of Ilan Halimi. Halimi was the young French Jew who in early 2006 was kidnapped and then savagely tortured over a period of three weeks by a gang from Bagneux in the Parisian banlieues. Interrogated by the police, members of the gang – appropriately enough called the “Barbarians” – made no secret of the anti-Semitic prejudice that animated the group.
In the first part of “French Jews Are Completely Fed Up”, Stéphane Juffa connects the open anti-Semitism of Ilan Halimi’s tormentors to the distorted representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the French media and, in particular, to Charles Enderlin’s Al-Dura report on France2. “Is it so hard to understand,” he writes,
that the Islamist-wannabe thugs of Bagneux imagined that in torturing to death Ilan Halimi, they were avenging, among others, the “martyrdom” of little Mohammed Al-Dura, which was staged by Talal Abu-Rahma with commentary by Enderlin and broadcast for free in France and to the four corners of the globe by [the French public broadcasting company] France Télévisions.
In part two, Juffa connects the distortions of the French media in turn to France’s traditionally pro-Arab Middle East policy: commonly known as “la politique arabe de la France” or “French Arab Policy.” He then returns to the question of the consequences for French Jews: offering a typology of different ways that French Jews respond to the anti-Semitism in their environment. The passage is worth translating at some length: both for its own sake and so that the reader – apparently unlike Nicolas Bonnal, the presiding judge in the Ciarapica case – can appreciate the context of the passage that the Parisian court would judge to be anti-Semitic. Enderlin’s name appears amidst a list of several French Jewish journalists, all of whom are accused by Juffa of having incited anti-Jewish hatred through false or tendentious reporting.
All this needs to be understood in the context of what Pierre Taguieff called “La nouvelle judéophobie” (available in English), the tsunami of anti-semitism that hit Europe starting in October 2000, just after the image of al Durah hit European TV screens and crowds of European Muslims and Leftists hit the streets accusing Israel of being like the Nazis.
As Shmuel Trigano argued in the issue of Controverses entitled Alter-juifs (i.e., Jews who view themselves through the eyes of the hostile “other”), in the first months of the media asssault of on Israel, alter-juifs accounted for over 70% of the most vicious attacks in the MSM. And it all began with Enderlin’s news report.
Let us come back to the Jews and to the methods that they have developed in order to be able to withstand the way that others look at them: a look that is full of disapproval and criticism, because of the inhuman oppression that the Palestinians suffer at the hands of Israel – if the journalists who have graduated with degrees in “French Arab Policy” are to be believed.
For the most recent case of this kind of demonization, thanks to the media, see the comments of Bruno Guigue, deputy prefect of the southwestern town of Saintes. If it had happened under Chirac, like the (unpunished) French ambassador’s comment in January 2002, at an English cocktail party, about Israel as that “shitty little nation,” he probably would not have been fired.
…The third are the most cowardly: mixing hatred of themselves and of their origins. They rush to provide in advance the self-criticism that is expected of them: not hesitating to impute to their brothers ritual murders of their own contrivance that come straight out of the Tsarist cabals or Nazi propaganda. There is, for example, for Sara Daniel, the systematic rape of young Palestinian girls by soldiers of the Israeli army aiming to get the girls executed by their families;
This was in an article in the Nouvel Observateur (her father is the editor) at the end of a piece on “honor killings” among Palestinians where, in order to balance the article, she added the gratuitous and entirely unsupported accusation that “”Les femmes palestiniennes violées par les soldats israéliens sont systématiquement tuées par leur propre famille. Ici, le viol devient un crime de guerre, car les soldats israéliens agissent en parfaite connaissance de cause.” [Palestinian women raped by Israeli soldiers are systematically killed by their own families. Here, the rape becomes a war-crime because the Israeli soldiers act with the sure knowledge of the results of their actions.]
or, for Edgar Morin-Nahum, the atavistic sadism [of Israelis] and the tendency to murder the weak, the non-Jews; or, for Sylvain Cypel [of Le Monde], espionage and the tendency to treachery – an updated version of the accusations made against Alfred Dreyfuss; or, for Dominique Vidal [of the monthly Le Monde Diplomatique], the Jewish international conspiracy – which is reborn from the ashes every time anti-Semitism is in need of arguments; and, finally, the sadistic assassination of non-Jewish children, for that veritable pyromaniac of war Charles Enderlin.
And… for posting these remarks by a Jew, Judge Bonnal and his crew found this Christian guilty of… antisemitism. When people ask me what I think will happen in the Karsteny-Enderlin case, I reply: “How should I know? The ways of French justice are mysterious.”
Read the entire piece. For French readers, read Véronique Chemla’s report, and JCDurbant’s blogpost.