Monthly Archives: June 2008

When People have Intellectual Integrity: Elie Barnavi on Charles Enderlin

UPDATE: see Jean Daniel’s initial response to this letter, below.

One of the major events that’s been happening in the Francophone world since the court decision is a series of French intellectuals who have broken ranks with the emperor’s court and come out on the side of Karsenty et al. Among them, one of the most important is Elie Barnavi, a French historian and, from early 2001 onwards, Israeli ambassador to France. I first met Barnavi in the early Fall of 2003 when he came to speak at Wellesley. He is an impressive intellect, self-consciously to the “left” but distinctly independent of mind.

Although he had early information on the high level of staging in Talal’s rushes, he, like so many other figures, kept his distance, perhaps out of loyalty, perhaps out of a concern for his reputation, perhaps out of concern for his opportunities in a European setting where taking the side of those who doubted Enderlin was a fast ticket to the Siberia of “right-wing conspiracy nuts.”

Now, however, and in response to the corporatist petition circulated by the Nouvel Observateur, Barnavi has come out against France2 and Charles Enderlin, in the pages of Marianne, an independent publication that prides itself on its political iconoclasm. In so doing he has shown remarkable courage, and represents, in my reading of history, a major contribution to the cultural resilience of democratic Europe.

[This is my translation. Corrections welcomed. I have added some information in brackets since, perhaps for lack of space, the article is at points excessively laconic.]

“The Honor of Journalism: On the al Durah Affair
Elie Barnavi
Marianne, 7-13 June, 2008

On September 30, 2000, an unbearable scene went around the world. At Netzarim Juction in the Gaza Strip, a young boy was killed in the arms of his father who tried, pathetically, to protect him. Commented on in “prime time” by Charles Enderlin, the correspondent of France2 in Jerusalem, the atrocious image offered to the “Second Intifada, which had scarcely begun, a first martyr, a rallying cry, and an inexhaustible them of propaganda. Since Jews and Arabs have struggled on this bit of land, nothing has had a more devastating effect on the image of Israel and its army than the death of the little Muhammad al Durah. Only the massacre at Deir Yassin, the 9th of April, 1948 had more serious consequences. Such is the power of television.

In arriving in Paris three months after this incident, I had to get involved, despite myself, in the al Durah affair which would not be forgotten. Well-intentioned people tried to enroll the ambassador of Israel in a crusade against France2; less well-intentioned journalists wanted to know what I, humanist and “man of the Left” that I was supposed to be, thought of the assassination, filmed live, of the child. I explained to the former that it was best not to stir the mud, that the damage was done and that fighting the evidence of the images would only bring on more blows. I explained to the latter, that I too was thrown into turmoil by the sight of the horror of a child’s death, but that it was certainly not an “assassination”, that the Israeli army, which I knew quite well, was not in the practice of massacring children, and that the only way to avoid further such cases was to put an end to the violence and return to the negotiating table. I was right with the latter, but perhaps not right with the former.

Al Durah Affair and its Discontents: Karsenty vs. the AJC

Washing dirty laundry in public is always a good means to promote Schadenfreude among those who do not like you. Here Philippe Karsenty and the AJC go at each other publicly. Comment at the end of the article.

Jun 12, 2008 10:33 | Updated Jun 12, 2008 10:36
French media critic in bitter spat with US Jewish C’tee
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS

In a bitter public dispute this week, a French media watchdog who recently won a landmark appeal against a French television station over their footage of the shooting death of a Palestinian boy has blasted members of a major American Jewish organization for their “destructive” role in the legal case.

The nasty three-year-old spat between Philippe Karsenty and the New York-based American Jewish Committee burst out in the open just a week after a Paris appeals court ruled in favor of Karsenty in the high-profile libel case claiming that French 2 footage of the 2000 shooting death of Mohammed al-Dura was faked.

“There is one organization, the American Jewish Committee, that should have been a natural ally,” Karsenty wrote in a June 8 letter posted on his Web site. “Instead it functioned as an obstacle to all my efforts.”

Karsenty singled out the AJC’s Paris Director, Valerie Hoffenberg, who has a close rapport with the French establishment, for the harshest criticism. He accused her of “working actively against his efforts to reveal the truth,” and blocking his access to French government officials so as not to jeopardize her relationship with the establishment.

“The most serious damage to our cause was done by certain members of the American Jewish Committee, notably the AJC’s representative in Paris,” he wrote in a damning May 30 letter circulated in e-mails and on the Internet.

Karsenty said “her role was crucial and destructive.”

Pallywood? No: Report on Jewish attack on Arabs in West Bank

I have often been accused of using Pallywood as a way to a) dismiss Palestinian suffering, and b) exculpate Israel. My response to the first is to point out that Palestinian suffering is real, but to a significant — terrifying — extent the product of the behavior of Palestinian elites, and that when people “buy” the Pallywood line — look how Israel makes us suffer! — they empower the very group that exploits Palestinian suffering so that they can blame Israel. My response to the second, is that if a Palestinian “lethal narrative” about dastardly Israelis is not Pallywood, I’ll admit it.

The BBC ran an article using exclusive footage of an attack by four armed youths on a group of Arabs in the West Bank. The footage comes from cameras supplied by the Israeli Human Rights group Btselem to chronicle the ways in which Israeli settlers make life miserable for the Palestinians. I have received a number of queries about whether this might not be Pallywood footage.

B’tselem have previously been caught out helping Palestinians uproot their olive trees, blaming the settlers, and then demanding high price compensation for the trees from Israel…

B’tselem are aiding the Palestinians again… in another Pallywood production… see the film and ask how come the shepherds had their cameras ready for filming the masked men who came over the hill… and then ask why there’s no voices heard, and why the men were masked!

It’s not the first time this sort of Pallywood production has made it into the mainstream, but, here we go again….

Distributed first to the BBC by B’tselem with the flames being fanned by far left, self-hating Ha’aretz and YNet.

Having watched the footage and spoken with someone who lives in Susia, I have come to the conclusion that this footage is genuine, and that the masked attackers are, indeed, Israelis. The response to the questions challenging the film are good, but have answers for either scenario. The attackers could just as easily disguise themselves (one is wearing a Palestinian scarf) and not speak to hide the disguise as vice-versa.

At one level, such violence is hardly as vicious as suicide terror attacks, and could well make sense within the context of a territorial struggle between various gangs. On the other, among those attacked was an elderly woman who is now in the hospital. Such attacks are heinous and inexcusable, and hopefully the violators will be arrested.

I note, in concluding, several points:

1) Is the anonymous emailer who suspected Pallywood right in noting that Btselem has helped in the creation of Pallywood-style grievances in the past over uprooted olive trees? I don’t have the data on this claim.

2) My source from the West Bank tells me that Palestinians regularly try and provoke things for the camera, making the presence of the camera a reason for violence.

3) Btselem’s policy of handing out these cameras is an invitation to Pallywood staging. If the Israelis are smart, they will prepare a team of experts to go over these scenes on a regular basis.

UPDATE:
Video: Police go undercover to identify attackers of Palestinians (Hattip MHB)

Two suspects arrested

Suspects sent to three day house arrest by Beer Sheva judge:

Published: 06.17.08, 16:59 / Israel News
The Beer Sheba Magistrate’s Court sent the two settlers suspected of assaulting Palestinians in the West Bank a week ago to a three-day house arrest.

The court rejected the police’s request to extend their remand by eight days. (Efrat Weiss)

Apparently for lack of evidence.

Studies in Aggressive Masochism: Israeli Journalist on Muhammad al Durah

I have argued repeatedly that Israeli self-criticism creates an epistemological problem for outsiders trying to understand what’s going on. If the Palestinians accuse Israel of doing something heinous — like, say, kill Muhammad al Durah in cold blood — and the Israelis say, we did it – as in Bet Michael “100% the Israelis did it” or Gideon Levy “We killed over 800 Muhammad al Durahs” — what’s an outsider to think?

The normal rules — no one willfully admits to bad things they didn’t do; on the contrary, people try and deny they’ve done bad things — don’t apply. Or, as a student of mine said after reading Ha-Aretz on the investigation into the Muhammad al Durah affair: “Isn’t Ha-Aretz an Israeli paper? Why does it sound like a Palestinian propaganda sheet?”

In the interests of explaining to people just how profoundly imbedded a radical stance of self-criticism is in Israeli journalistic discourse, I give you a review written last month of the first serious presentation of the Al Durah evidence to an Israeli audience by Israeli TV in the eight years since the incident. For the sake of those who can’t believe what they’re reading, I offer a guide to Israeli-speak.

Ynet ran an opinion piece by Izhar Be’er a while back in response to a Israel Channel 2 show on al Durah which we hope to make available shortly to viewers with a translation. I publish a translation below (thanks to Dimitry Papkov) with comments. Few texts better illustrate why it was NOT the Israel media which broke this appalling tale.

The Spin That Won’t Die: Muhammad A-Durah as an Allegory

Delusional players that in other days wouldn’t receive a sliver of support are accepted with open arms by the Israeli media that refuses to accept that the boy was shot by IDF’s bullets

Note that one program breaks ranks with the overwhelming consensus of the Israeli media not to even inform their public that the al Durah story has problems, and immediately it becomes “accepted with open arms by the Israeli media. Note also that any questioning of the original story is immediately labeled “delusional.”

By Izhar Be’er

Nothing like the constant dealings with the circumstances of the death of the boy Muhammad A-Durah in the media illustrates better the deterioration of the public discussion. Delusional conspiracy theories were always present here, and they will come and appear in the future with a new emotional case.

This idea of the “deterioration of the public discussion” is important. As long as we control that discussion, it’s elevated. The minute some delusional people who question what we say get a voice, it’s the end of our high standards. Shades of the French Petition.

Same thing happened after the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, when rumors, articles, “exposes” and books assigned blame for his death on his bodyguards, Shimon Peres and even Rabin himself. In both cases the people who spread the theories had a defined political goal – obfuscation of the consciousness up to a point of confusion between the left and the right, which they tried to achieve by the rain of disinformation. Only in the case of Rabin’s murder this delusional discussion was reduced to the small closed cultural enclaves in the Israeli society, and it continued mostly among the settler right and religious communities (haridim).

In France, the move against the al Durah critique is to compare it to Thierry Meyssan’s claim that a US missile hit the Pentagon on 9-11. In Israel, it’s the Rabin assassination. Unfortunately for the al Durah case, Nahum Shahaf had already established himself as a major proponent of the Rabin assassination conspiracy before he took on this case. What’s particularly telling about this paragraph, however, is the reference to the political agenda.

    In both cases the people who spread the theories had a defined political goal – obfuscation of the consciousness up to a point of confusion between the left and the right, which they tried to achieve by the rain of disinformation.

Two points here. First, Be’er speaks as if he had no agenda, as if his approach to the evidence had nothing to do with his politics, even though his only approach to the evidence is to dismiss it as “complicated” and irrelevant.

Second, this language of “obfuscation of consciousness” (Irpul ha-todaah) seems strange, and strangely Marxist. How in the world does one get from “wait a minute, the media got suckered on the al Durah story” to “you are messing with the proper consciousness of the public”?

Ivan Rioufol, Figaro columnist denounces Nouvel Obs petition

Ivan Rioufol, one of the more courageous (and therefore lonely) French journalists writing today, has dedicated his column to the Nouvel Obs petition. I’ll provide a commentary and translation of key passages next week. At the time of posting, this already had 41 comments. This is one hot topic in France… which at this point has a much more active and informed public on this topic than the USA, despite the fact that most material has been published in English. Turns out that MENA, Media-Ratings, Debriefing.org, Vérité Maintenant, and other blogs like Aiain Jean-Mairet, have made silent inroads in a previously silent population.

Bloc-notes: les médias, pouvoir intouchable

Par Ivan Rioufol le 13 juin 2008 0h01 | Lien permanent | Commentaires (41) | Trackbacks (0)

Le Nouvel Observateur vient de publier un appel, soutenu par de talentueux confrères, dénonçant une “campagne obstinée et haineuse” contre Charles Enderlin, correspondant de France 2 à Jérusalem. Le texte reproche à “des individus” de contester la véracité d’un de ses reportages montrant Mohammed al-Doura, 12 ans, “tué par des tirs venus de la position israélienne le 30 septembre 2000 dans la bande de Gaza, lors d’un affrontement entre l’armée israélienne et des éléments armés palestiniens”. Enderlin, journaliste infaillible?

La pétition suggère qu’un reporter, singulièrement dans une zone de conflit, ne saurait être jugé que par ses pairs: un esprit de corps qui a pour effet d’imposer une vérité, en décrédibilisant les contradicteurs. La presse soviétique procédait pareillement. Certes, les médias aiment mieux donner des leçons qu’en recevoir. Mais l’omerta sur la contestation de ces faits, qui ont eu de considérables répercussions au Proche-Orient, fait injure à la démocratie.

La diffusion par France 2 de la mort de l’enfant auprès de son père blessé avait attisé la deuxième intifada. Deux réservistes israéliens allaient être lynchés par des Palestiniens. Ceux qui, devant une caméra vidéo, tranchèrent la tête du journaliste américain Daniel Pearl, en 2002 au Pakistan, avaient la photo de la scène. Elle ébranla des esprits aussi avisés que Catherine Nay: “La mort de Mohammed annule, efface celle de l’enfant juif, les mains en l’air devant les SS, dans le ghetto de Varsovie.”

Karsenty Appeal Ruling: Partial but Professional Translation

Below are the key passages from the Karsenty decision in a professional translation. The full translation will be up by the beginning of next week. Feel free to use these translations in articles. For an online version of the French decision (not PDF) see Macina’s authoritative site: Debriefing.org. (I append the French of these passages below.)

Given that: Philippe KARSENTY tackles topics of general interest, such as the work practices of the media, and specifically, of the public broadcast authority, the power of images, and the relevancy of live commentary, based on the public’s right to serious information – which gives the publication of his research all its legitimacy – Charles ENDERLIN can even less so evade the criticism, given that it targets him as an information professional and as the correspondent in Israel and the Palestinian territories for France 2’s televised prime-time news; in this position he inevitably and knowingly exposes himself to more careful scrutiny of his comments and actions by his co-citizens, as well as by his colleagues.
(p. 9)

Given that: It is determined that Charles ENDERLIN did not witness the events which he commented on in “off-screen narration” – a procedure that is in no way contrary to the journalistic code of ethics, as long as that is understood by the viewers; that in this case, FRANCE 2 pointed out on October 1, 2000, that the death of the child had been “filmed by Talal Abu Ramah, [his] correspondent in Gaza” and on October 2, that the cameraman “had filmed the unacceptable,” which did not necessarily lead one to deduce that the commentator was not at the scene; that this fact led Philippe KARSENTY – without being thus able to deduce that the events reported were false – to question the concordance between the images chosen by the Palestinian cameraman (“It’s I who decides what is important,” we hear him say in one of the interviews), and Charles ENDERLIN’s commentary on these images.
(p.9)
….

Given that: The theory of MENA … taken up by Philippe KARSENTY, relies on FRANCE 2’s persistent reluctance to allow the viewing of its cameraman’s rushes; on Charles ENDERLIN’s imprudent claim that he had edited out the images of the child’s agony, and on statements made by several journalists who did see the rushes;

Given that: The testimony by Luc ROSENZWEIG, former chief editor of MONDE, established that after having met, in May 2004, some colleagues who shared with him their doubts about Charles ENDERLIN’s commentary, and having thereafter himself shared these doubts with Denis JEAMBAR and Daniel LECONTE, on October 22, 2004, he viewed with them FRANCE 2’s rushes …

Given that: The two journalists […] unambiguously stated they had shared their “serious doubts” with Arlette CHABOT, but were ready to “disregard the accusations by ROSENSWEIG about the child’s death having been staged if viewing the whole set of rushes filmed by Talal ABOU RAMA confirmed what Charles ENDERLIN claimed on at least two occasions – including once to Telerama: “I edited out the child’s agony. It was unbearable … It would not have added anything more”; and – after having seen the rushes – that “this famous ‘agony’ that ENDERLIN claims to have edited out of the film does not exist”;

Given that: They also noted … that viewing the entire set of rushes shows that at the moment Charles ENDERLIN declares the child dead … nothing allows him to suggest that he really is dead and even less so that he was killed by Israeli soldiers …
(p.10)
….

Given that: The theory put forth by MENA, which is the subject of the book by Gerard HUBER published in January 2003, Contre-expertise d’une mise en scène (exhibit No. 3), infers – from the fact that we see young Palestinians taking advantage of the presence of cameras to play out war scenes and act as if wounded – that the death of young Mohamed AL-DURA was fictitious …;

Given that: The testimony by Luc ROSENZWEIG, former chief editor of MONDE, established that after having met, in May 2004, some colleagues who shared with him their doubts about Charles ENDERLIN’s commentary, and having thereafter himself shared these doubts with Denis JEAMBAR and Daniel LECONTE, on October 22, 2004, he viewed with them FRANCE 2’s rushes and was surprised that, of the 27 minutes of Talal ABU RAHMA’s rushes, more than 23 minutes of the scenes on film had nothing to do with the images broadcast by the station, including those of little Mohamed’s death, and consisted of young Palestinians faking war scenes. The witness concluded his testimony at the hearing in the lower court by stating his conviction that “the theory that the scene [of the child’s death] was faked was more probable than the version presented by FRANCE 2,” while admitting that, as a journalist, journalistic “criteria did not allow him to go further than that.”

Given that: This testimony is confirmed by the opinions, essentially corroborative, of Daniel LECOMTE and Denis JEAMBAR, put forth in an editorial in the Figaro of January 25, 2005 (exhibit No. 16), and an interview broadcast February 1, 2005, by RCJ television (exhibit No. 4) …;

Given that: They also note that, “in the minutes preceding the shooting, the Palestinians seem to have organized a stage … ‘playing’ war with the Israelis and simulating, in most of the cases, imaginary wounds.”

Considering that Richard LANDES, journalist and professor at Boston University, whose testimony was heard by the first judges, testified that, according to him, after having studied the rushes by Reuters and the commentary by Charles ENDERLIN, with whom he discussed the issue, the probability that the child’s death ENDERLIN reported was staged, was “greater than 95%.”
(p. 10-11)
…..

Considering that, if none of the defendant’s arguments – neither the conclusions of the investigation carried out on the personal initiative of General SAMYA (defense exhibit No. 12), nor the “imprudent statement” by Charles ENDERLIN quoted above – seemed to the judges below to be sufficiently determinative in regards to the contested commentary, it is apparent that examining, on appeal, the 18 minutes of Talal ABU RAMAH’s rushes produced by FRANCE 2 does not permit dismissing the opinion of the professionals who were heard by the court during the proceedings or who participated in the debates …;

Considering that, in responding to Denis JEAMBAR and Daniel LECOMTE in the Figaro of January 27, 2005, that “the image corresponded to the reality of the situation, not only in Gaza, but also in Trans-Jordan,” – despite the fact that by definition a report is understood to be the testimony of what a journalist has seen and heard – Charles ENDERLIN admitted that the film, which was seen around the world and sparked unprecedented violence in the entire region, perhaps did not correspond to his commentary, which is also the opinion submitted by Daniel DAYAN, director of research at CNRS and an expert on the media, in his testimony (exhibit No. 5).

—————————————————————-

(p.11)

Qu’alors que Philippe KARSENTY aborde des sujets d’intérêt général, telles les méthodes de travail des médias et, précisément, de la chaîne publique, la force des images et la pertinence des commentaires sur le vif, partant le droit du public à une information sérieuse, ce qui donne toute sa légitimité à la publication de ses recherches, Charles ENDERLIN peut d’autant moins se soustraire à la critique qu’elle le vise en tant que professionnel de l’information, correspondant en Israël et dans les territoires palestiniens pour les journaux télévisés de FRANCE 2 diffusés aux heures de grande audience, et qu’à ce titre, il s’expose inévitablement et consciemment à un contrôle des plus attentifs de ses faits et gestes de la part de ses concitoyens comme de ses confrères ;

Considérant que, pour justifier du sérieux de son enquête, Philippe KARSENTY présente, outre les témoignages de Luc ROSENZWEIG, Gérard HUBER, Francis BALLE et Richard LANDES figurant aux notes d’audience du tribunal, les pièces communiquées en première instance, ainsi que de nouvelles pièces numérotées 43 à 73, dont l’essentiel, procédant du reportage de FRANCE 2, ne porte pas sur des faits postérieurs à la publication des propos incriminés ; qu’il convient, dans ce cadre, d’apprécier la validité de l’enquête du prévenu en fonction, non pas de sa vertu démonstratrice de la vérité des imputations diffamatoires, mais de la valeur et de la variété des sources utilisées, ainsi que de la pertinence de leur contenu;

Considérant qu’ainsi que l’a relevé le tribunal, l’enquête de Philippe KARSENTY fait ressortir deux grands types de critiques à l’encontre du reportage, soit que Charles ENDERLIN ait présenté à tort les tirs mortels comme délibérés, en provenance des positions israéliennes, soit que les images de la mort du jeune Mohamed Al-DURA, fictives, ne correspondent pas à la réalité commentée par le journaliste ;

Que l’auteur des propos poursuivis s’appuie essentiellement sur l’incohérence inexplicable des images visibles, selon lui, même dans la scène principale, sur l’absence de caractère probatoire des photos des blessures de Jamal AL DURA présentées par FRANCE 2, enfin sur les réponses contradictoires de Charles ENDERLIN aux interrogations relatives aux coupures existant dans son montage, comme de celles de son cameraman au sujet de l’enchaînement des scènes filmées et des conditions du tournage ;

Considérant qu’il est constant que Charles ENDERLIN n’a pas été témoin des faits qu’il a commentés en voix “off “, selon un procédé nullement contraire à la déontologie des journalistes, dès lors qu’il est compris des téléspectateurs ; qu’en l’occurrence, FRANCE 2 a indiqué, le 1er octobre 2000, que la mort de l’enfant avait « été filmée par Talal ABU RAHMA, [son] correspondant à Gaza » et, le 2 octobre, que le cameraman « filmait l’inacceptable », ce qui ne permettait pas nécessairement d’en déduire que le commentateur n’était pas sur les lieux ; que ce fait a conduit Philippe KARSENTY, sans qu’il puisse alors en induire que l’événement commenté était faux, à s’interroger sur la concordance entre les images choisies par le caméraman palestinien (« c’est moi qui décide ce qui est important », l’entend-on dire dans une des interviews), et le commentaire de ces images par Charles ENDERLIN ;

[P. 10] Que, s’il est vrai que les auteurs des deux documents vidéo (pièces n° 1 et 2), l’un monté à l’initiative d’Esther SHAPIRA pour la chaîne de télévision ARD en mars 2002, l’autre, AL-DURA : l’enquête, réalisé en novembre suivant par la MENA à partir des déclarations de Nahum SHAHAF, désigné pour diriger une commission d’enquête initiée par le commandant de la zone sud, ne tirent pas les mêmes conclusions de l’observation du reportage, puisque le premier conforte la mort de l’enfant sous une balle palestinienne, tandis que le second impute une mise en scène palestinienne de cette mort, il n’importe pas que ces thèses soient inconciliables, dès lors que les deux documents ont conduit le prévenu, par étapes successives, à interroger le reportage de FRANCE 2 quant à la réalité des faits rapportés par des professionnels de l’information ;

Que la thèse de la MENA, sujet de l’ouvrage de Gérard HUBER, sorti en janvier 2003 sous le titre Contre-expertise d’une mise en scène (pièce n° 3), qui infère, du fait qu’on voit de jeunes Palestiniens mettant à profit la présence de caméras pour jouer des scènes de guerre et de blessures, le caractère fictif de la mort du jeune Mohamed AL-DURA, reprise par Philippe KARSENTY, s’est appuyée sur les réticences persistantes de FRANCE 2 à laisser visionner les rushes de son cameraman, sur l’imprudente affirmation, par Charles ENDERLIN, qu’il aurait coupé au montage les images de l’agonie de l’enfant et sur les déclarations de plusieurs journalistes ayant visionné les rushes ;

Qu’il résulte, en effet, du témoignage de Luc ROSENZWEIG, ancien rédacteur en chef du MONDE, qu’après avoir rencontré, en mai 2004, des confrères lui ayant fait part de leurs doutes sur le reportage de Charles ENDERLIN et s’en être ouvert, par la suite, à Denis JEAMBAR et A Daniel LECONTE, il a visionné avec ceux-ci, le 22 octobre 2004, les rushes de FRANCE 2 et a été surpris de ce que, sur les 27 minutes des rushes de Talal ABU RAHMA, plus de 23 minutes de scènes filmées n’avaient rien à voir avec les images diffusées par la chaîne, dont celles de la mort du petit Mohamed, et consistaient dans la présentation de fausses scènes de guerre par de jeunes Palestiniens ; que le témoin a conclu son propos à l’audience de première instance en déclarant avoir la conviction que « la version de la mise en scène [de la mort de l’enfant] a une probabilité plus grande que la version présentée par FRANCE 2 », tout en reconnaissant qu’en tant que journaliste, « les critères ne [lui] permettent pas d’aller plus loin » ;

Que ce témoignage est conforté par les opinions, non contraires pour l’essentiel, de Daniel LECONTE et de DENIS JEAMBAR, issues d’un point de vue donné au Figaro du 25 janvier 2005 (pièce n° 16) et d’une interview diffusée le 1er février 2005 sur l’antenne de RCJ (pièce n° 4) ;

Que les deux journalistes y déclarent sans ambiguïté avoir confié à Arlette CHABOT leurs « doutes sérieux », mais être « prêts à écarter les accusations de ROSENZWEIG sur la mise en scène de la mort de l’enfant si le visionnage de l’ensemble des rushes tournés par Talal ABU RAHMA confirme ce que Charles ENDERLIN a déclaré à deux reprises au moins, dont à Télérama : « J’ai coupé l’agonie de l’enfant. C’était insupportable… Cela n’aurait rien apporté de plus », puis, au vu des rushes, que « cette fameuse agonie qu’Enderlin affirme avoir coupée au montage n’existe pas » ;

Qu’ils relèvent également que, « dans les minutes qui précèdent la fusillade, les Palestiniens semblent avoir organisé une mise en scène, […] « jouent » à la guerre avec les Israéliens et simulent, dans la plupart des cas, des blessures imaginaires « et que le visionnage intégral des rushes démontre aussi qu’au moment où Charles ENDERLIN donne le gamin pour mort […] rien ne lui permet d’affirmer qu’il est vraiment mort et encore moins qu’il a été tué par des soldats israéliens » ; que, selon eux, les journalistes de FRANCE 2 leur ont assuré lors de la séance de présentation [P. 11] des rushes que « leurs experts ont même démontré […] que l’enfant a été touché par des éclats (?) ou par des balles qui auraient ricoché sur la chaussée, des balles qui, en tout état de cause, ne visaient ni l’enfant, ni son père » ;

Qu’il est vrai que, tout en notant que leur confrère devrait reconnaître qu’il avait « extrapolé à partir des rushes et de la version des événements fournie par son cameraman », et que le commentaire sur la barbarie israélienne « n’a rien à voir » avec les images qui ont fait le tour du monde. Denis JEAMBAR et Daniel LECONTE refusent de reprendre à leur compte la thèse de la mise en scène de la mort de l’enfant ; qu’ils s’appuient, pour ce faire, sur le film de Talal ABU RAHMA présenté par FRANCE 2 le 18 novembre pour démontrer que les blessures du père correspondaient exactement aux pansements qu’il avait, le lendemain, à l’hôpital de Gaza, sans s’arrêter sur la possibilité d’une contradiction entre les photos qui leur ont été présentées et leurs propres constatations que, dans les rushes, « le père porte un T-shirt sur lequel on ne voit aucune trace de sang » ;

Considérant que Richard LANDES, journaliste, professeur à l’université de Boston, entendu en qualité de témoin par les premiers juges, a déclaré que, selon lui, après avoir étudié les rushes de Reuters et le reportage de Charles ENDELIN, avec lequel il s’est entretenu, la probabilité que la mort de l’enfant présentée par celui-ci serait une mise en scène était « supérieure à 95% » ;

Considérant que, si aucun des arguments du prévenu – ni les conclusions de l’enquête menée à l’initiative personnelle du Général SAMYA (contre-offre de preuve n° 12) ni « l’imprudente affirmation » de Charles ENDERLIN déjà relevée – n’a paru aux premiers juges, à lui seul suffisamment déterminant en regard du reportage contesté, il apparaît que l’examen en cause d’appel, des 18 minutes de rushes de Talal ABU RAHMA communiquées par FRANCE 2 ne permet pas d’écarter les avis des professionnels entendus au cours de la procédure ou ayant versé leurs contributions aux débats, les attestations produites par les soins du cameraman (offre de contre-preuve, n° 5 à 10) ne pouvant pas, en revanche, au vu de leur présentation comme de leur contenu, être tenues pour parfaitement crédibles ;

Qu’alors qu’aucun principe ne permet de refuser sans examen, ni explication tout crédit à un document qui ne bénéficierait pas d’un label officiel ou qui ne recueillerait que peu de crédit de la part des “autorités”, il convient de relever que les premières déclarations des autorités israéliennes, notamment celles du Général EYLAND, ont été faites au vu des seules images du reportage de FRANCE 2 ; qu’il est, par ailleurs, notoire, ainsi que l’ont expliqué Denis JEAMBAR et Daniel LECONTE, que l’armée israélienne ne répond quasiment sur rien, « c’est le choix de communication qu’elle a fait » ;

Considérant qu’en répondant à Denis JEAMBAR et à Daniel LECONTE, dans Le Figaro du 27 janvier 2005, que « l’image correspondait à la réalité de la situation non seulement à Gaza, mais aussi en Cisjordanie », alors que la définition d’un reportage s’entend comme le témoignage de ce que le journaliste a vu et entendu, Charles ENDERLIN a reconnu que le film qui a fait le tour du monde en entraînant des violences sans précédent dans toute la région ne correspondait peut-être pas au commentaire qu’il avait donné, ce qui est également l’avis donné par Daniel DAYAN, directeur de recherches au CNRS et spécialiste des médias, dans son attestation (pièce n° 5) ;

Considérant, sur la prudence de l’expression, qu’il convient de souligner que les limites de la critique admissible sont d’autant plus grandes que le sujet est [P. 12] d’intérêt public et les accusations étayées sur un faisceau d’éléments d’enquête, et d’autant plus larges à l’égard de ceux qui, par leur fonction ou leur activité, s’exposent au public ;

Que c’est en ce sens qu’il convient d’entendre le propos de Francis BALLE, professeur à l’université de Paris II, spécialiste de l’image et de l’information, qui a déclaré devant le tribunal qu’il ne lui semblait pas que, dans l’exercice de son métier, Philippe KARSENTY « ait franchi la ligne jaune » en usant des termes incriminés pour parler d’un sujet d’intérêt public ;

Que s’il est vrai que l’emploi répété de l’expression « faux reportage », accentué par les termes de « mise en scène », « mascarade », « supercherie » et « imposture » confère de prime abord aux propos incriminés un caractère essentiellement critique, négatif, voire, avec la formule « fausse mort », provoquant, il résulte d’une lecture plus approfondie de l’article en ligne, repris succinctement dans le communiqué, dont la totalité d’ensemble est ferme, que leur auteur explique avec véhémence, mais sans véritable outrance en quoi la chaîne publique a mérité sa critique au regard des critères de notation de son agence ;

Qu’en effet, le prévenu rappelle les faits, relate la polémique, indique que la MENA accuse la chaîne française de faux, avant de donner sa propre analyse et ses conclusions ; que, dans ce cadre, il qualifie le premier épisode de pure fiction, ce qui est aussi soutenu par plusieurs des grandes signatures de la presse et de l’information ayant vu les rushes en octobre 2004 ; qu’il expose ensuite, au sujet de la scène principale, dans laquelle il a observé des incohérences inexplicables et des contradictions dans les explications sur l’agonie de l’enfant données par Charles ENDERLIN, que celui-ci se trompe, ce qui revient à lui imputer une simple erreur, et « du même coup », trompe le public, ce qui apparaît comme une formulation euphémique ; qu’en concluant par une interrogation sur les raisons de « chercher à couvrir cette imposture », Philippe KARSENTY aborde le fond du sujet avec une vivacité de l’expression que l’importance de la question débattue doit pourtant autoriser ;

Considérant que l’animosité personnelle à l’égard des parties civiles n’est pas démontrée par la production de deux attestations, l’une de René BACKMANN, l’autre de François RAIGA-CLEMENCEAU, postérieures à l’enquête menée par Philippe KARSENTY, alors que le contenu de l’article et du communiqué du directeur de l’agence de notation des médias ne révèle, quant à lui, aucun sentiment personnel hostile à l’égard de Charles ENDERLIN et de FRANCE 2 ;

Considérant qu’en l’état des éléments de l’enquête, qui constituent une base factuelle suffisante pour admettre que les propos litigieux, souvent proches d’un jugement de valeur, aient pu être tenus par l’auteur de l’article et du communiqué incriminés pour traiter de sujets d’intérêt aussi général que le danger d’un pouvoir, en l’occurrence celui de la presse, en l’absence de contrepoids, et le droit du public à une information sérieuse, il y a lieu de décider que Philippe KARSENTY a exercé de bonne foi son droit de la libre critique ; que, ce faisant, il n’a pas dépassé les limites de la liberté d’expression reconnue par l’article 10 de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme, laquelle vaut non seulement pour les informations ou idées accueillies avec faveur ou considérées comme inoffensives ou indifférentes, mais aussi pour celles qui heurtent, choquent ou inquiètent ;

Que la décision de première instance sera donc infirmée, Philippe KARSENTY renvoyé des fins de la poursuite et les parties civiles déboutées de leurs demandes ;

JPost Publishes Our Response: Landes and Karsenty to Derfner

The Jerusalem Post just published our response to Larry Derfner’s potty-mouthed rant about Al Durah and conspiracy theories (fisked here). I publish below the original text which contains an additional paragraph (in italics) that the editors took out before publication.

Right of reply: Conspiracy theories and Al-Dura
Jun. 11, 2008
RICHARD LANDES and PHILIPPE KARSENTY

Weekly columnist Larry Derfner wrote a bizarre piece in the The Jerusalem Post on May 29. He railed against us as “conspiracy freaks” whose “pure paranoia” has us matching “Arab insanity with Jewish insanity,” all because we dare to claim that the footage that Charles Enderlin presented to the world as news of real events was actually staged by his cameraman, Talal abu Rahmah. For Derfner, such claims – he fails even to distinguish between our claim that Enderlin was the dupe of his cameraman, and his claim that we think Enderlin was involved in the hoax – constitute a “demonizing” of the Palestinians and the foreign press.

The piece is heavy on crude rhetoric and light on evidence to substantiate its intemperate claims. Little in his piece makes sense other than his vehement desire to tar us as paranoid conspiracy freaks. Indeed, Derfner’s only evidence comes from a five-year-old article by James Fallows that appeared long before the extensive evidence of Palestinian staging (Pallywood) and Enderlin’s prevarication (there are no “death throes” that he “cut”) had reached public awareness. Ultimately Derfner’s argument comes down to a misconceived straw man, the same argument used by Enderlin and France2 in court:

In other words, it’s a bunch of crap, all these theories that say journalist Charles Enderlin, his Palestinian cameraman, al-Dura’s father, a hospital in Gaza, a hospital in Amman, the Jordanian ambassador to Israel, the UN, the Palestinian people and/or any number of other anti-Semites conspired to stage the killing of that 11-year-old boy.

LET’S BEGIN by putting the errors in this description aside: we do not accuse Enderlin or the Jordanian ambassador, or the UN, or the rest of his inflated list, of participating in the conspiracy from the start. We consider them willing dupes who “ran with the story.”

Shorn of these auxiliaries, his list comes down to the following “co-conspirators”: Talal, his assistants on the scene (the ones yelling “The boy is dead!” before he’s even “hit”), the father and son, and the doctors in the hospital. This is hardly a difficult group to assemble; certainly nothing compared to the tens of thousands necessary for a 9-11 conspiracy or the “invention of the Holocaust.”

Bystanders at the scene needed only to keep silent. Arab ambassadors, King Abdullah, and other such figures need not even know it was a fake. As for the doctors in the Amman hospital, once this story had “taken,” who were they to blow the whistle on so powerful and successful a blow against Israel? Like Enderlin, even after realizing it was fake, they couldn’t admit it publicly.

Anyone familiar with the evidence in this case cannot take Derfner’s piece seriously, as one can see in the numerous and near-universally negative comments to his column. We invite him and the readers of the Post to visit our Web sites where we have put up the evidence and to judge for themselves. Philippe Karsenty’s site is Media-Ratings, Richard Landes’ two sites are The Second Draft (presentation of the evidence and argumentation), and The Augean Stables (blog with commentary and analysis).

Having viewed much of this evidence, the judges wrote:

    The accused [Karsenty]… qualifies the episode as pure fiction, which is also sustained by several important signatories from the press who viewed the rushes in October 2004; that he then exposes… the inexplicable inconsistencies and contradictions in the explanations on the agony of the child given by Charles ENDERLIN, [whom, Karsenty claims, tried to] “cover this imposture.” Philippe KARSENTY takes up the core of the issue with a vivacity of expression that the importance of the question under debate must, nonetheless, authorize…”

This is hardly what Derfner characterizes as “light years away” from our conclusion that Charles Enderlin initially got fooled and subsequently lied to cover his mistakes. And once one is familiar with the wide range of evidence, one has to wonder what would lead him to so intemperate and insubstantial an assault on people far more familiar with the dossier than he.

HERE WE enter strange terrain: the peculiar attachment that people who claim to empathize with the Palestinians have for this tale. Even when presented with evidence of staging, many respond, “So what if this is faked; we’ve killed over 800 kids in the Intifada,” or as in Gideon Levy’s inimitable formulation, “We’ve killed over 800 Muhammed al-Duras.”

Considering that Muhammed al-Dura was the first of the child-murder accusations that then made all subsequent claims believable, that he became an international symbol of Israeli viciousness, of Israeli soldiers killing an innocent unarmed child “in cold blood,” a modern blood libel which blamed Jews the world over, such statements are close to masochistic self-accusation.

And given that the Palestinian notion of “targeted assassination” is blowing up a place full of civilians, that their hatreds feed on such confected “lethal narratives” as al-Dura, that the world blames Israel for Palestinian hatreds on the basis of such libels, then such self-laceration seems somewhat inappropriate. As Ahad Ha’am once said in the context of late 19th-century blood libels, “It is extremely dangerous for an individual or a people to confess to crimes they have not committed.”

People who scream “paranoia” often partake of the fault they project. What might Derfner’s paranoia be? That if he – or anyone on the “Left” – should defend Israel by calling into question some part of the Palestinian hate/victim narrative, he would be immediately assaulted as a right-wing racist? Is that what just happened to us?

Al-Dura offers us the most extreme version of a marriage between pre-modern sadists and post-modern masochists, both of whom have less interest in what happened than in stories that justify their politics. It is testimony to a tragic post-modern development, in which the minds of “progressives” (especially Jewish ones) have been colonized by their enemy’s narratives, that the denunciation of Palestinian lies somehow means a victory for the “Right.” For the pre-modern imperialists, al Durah offers justification for their frustrated genocidal hatreds; for the post-moderns, it offers a moral stick with which to beat Israel into the kinds of concessions they, in their wisdom, believe will bring true peace to this troubled corner (center) of the global community.

And woe onto anyone, like us, who dare stand in their way.

Derfner owes his readers, and the many victims of Talal abu Rahmah’s vicious hoax and Charles Enderlin’s eager folly, a profound apology. (He need not apologize to us; we’ve been the object of far worse mudslinging over the last five years.)

In the Dreyfus Affair the term intellectual came to mean someone who, when confronted with the evidence, could change his mind. Hopefully, Derfner, and many more of those who claim to love peace, can step up to the status of intellectuals.

Philippe Karsenty, whose appeal against France2′s defamation suit was just upheld in a French court, is president of Media Ratings (www.m-r.fr). Richard Landes is a professor of history at Boston University and runs the Web site www.seconddraft.org and blogs at www.theaugeanstables.com

The Impact of Al-Dura on the West

WHAT WAS THE IMPACT OF AL-DURAH ON THE WEST?

[Note: This essay, originally posted at Second Draft in 2005 is republished here at the Augean Stables for those who are just now becoming familiar with the Al Durah case. One cannot really understand the importance of the case without understanding what an impact this footage had world wide. This essay is part of a three-part discussion of the impact of al Durah on the Muslim world, the Western world, and the Israelis.]

1. Talal’s narrative accepted without question

The first impact of al Durah on the West was the near total credulity of the media, the public, even public officials. Not only did the press present it as unquestionably real – with special warnings about the disturbing nature of the footage about to be shown – but in Europe, as in the Arab world, the footage was shown over and over as an illustration of the conflict. No non-Israeli correspondent questioned the news, and when CBS’s Sixty Minutes had a chance to let the public know some of the most telling doubts, they focused on the enraging settlements and dismissed the findings with “but the investigation had made up its mind before they fired the first shot.” So when Time Magazine prepared its “Man of the year” issue for year’s end, they had Muhamed as one of the “persons of the year.”

2. Tipping the political scales

The immediate impact of this footage produced a dramatic shifting of the political scales. Clinton was shocked, (as he described in “My Life“) Chirac publicly snubbed Barak four days later in Paris and lectured him on how killing Palestinian children was “no policy.” All the goodwill Barak had acquired in his offers at Camp David evaporated, and Arafat, according to one of his advisors, was returned to the world stage after his isolation for spoiling Camp David. People close to him described Arafat in the final months of 2000 as euphoric, thrilled with the romantic portrayal of the nascent intifada, and believing that the whole world supported him. Barak and Israel were now the outcasts.

3. Palestinian sources given broad credibility

Once the media had accepted the Palestinian version of al Durah, all subsequent claims went through much more easily. Indeed, the shock produced by al Durah allowed another, almost as heinous the Israelis shot the ambulance driver who came to get wounded father and sonaccusation to go through the same day. The subsequent claims of Palestinian sources about the number of injured and dead – especially children – were then reported as reliable in the western press, and form the basis for the figures which, in some papers like the Boston Globe, ended every article on the intifada for months – the number of Israeli and (much greater number) of Palestinian dead and wounded. Even Israeli organizations, like Btselem accepted the claims of Palestinian sources in most cases. Pallywood reigned supreme. The climax of the Western Press’ credulity of Pallywood reached its apex in April 2002 when the Palestinians claimed hundreds and thousands massacred in Jenin.

4. Intensifying virulent anti-Zionism:Palestinian narrative of victimization, anti-Zionist discourse increased notably. Those most committed to a post-colonial paradigm that sees Israel as an imperialist, colonialist, intruder and the Palestinians as indigenous victims of Israeli aggression had found their icon – the innocent Palestinian and the cold-blooded Israeli killer. Sympathy not only for the cause of Palestinian national self-determination, but also for its most radical and violent “activists” including suicide bombers. For people like Ramsay Clark, founder of International A.N.S.W.E.R. the picture of al Durah is the modern equivalent of the Jewish boy being rounded up by Nazis;


The increase in virulence of global anti-Zionism, presided over by the Western “left” became fully evident at Durban, South Africa, where a UN conference on racism (2001) got hi-jacked into an assault on Israel and the USA, with Jamal al Durah giving press conferences and his son, paraded in effigy through the streets. Anti-Zionism and the “blood libels” associated with its most extreme forms (cans labeled “canned Palestinian children meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites under American license,”) appeared in campuses all across Europe and even in the US.

5. Opening door to new levels of anti-Semitic literature and anti-Jewish activity

Since al Durah and the spiral of violence in the Middle East and the media’s widespread tendency to show Israel in the worst possible light, and particularly in the aftermath of the Jenin “massacre” reports, a whole range of previously “politically incorrect” comments about Israel and Jews became increasingly acceptable: from France’s ambassador to England calling Israel a “shitty little country” to comparisons with the Nazis, to mainstream publications carrying articles questioning Israel’s right to exist. British magazine New Statesman, which portrays itself as “the essential read for bright thinkers everywhere” had a front cover featuring a Star of David standing on a Union Jack above the headline `A Kosher Conspiracy’ in order to denounce the “pro-Israel lobby in the country”. The magazine soon clarified, however, that the cover was not intended to be ‘anti-Semitic.” These developments continue to grow apace, with a pro-suicide-terrorist play in Germany sponsored by the government, a vicious anti-Jewish poem included in a collection for British school children and a public display of anti-Semitic literature in the world’s most important event, the Frankfurt Book Fair. Accompanying this rise in verbal violence came a wave of attacks on Jews and Jewish sites, especially in Europe, that, beginning in October 2000 that spread globally, and, in addition to many places in the Muslim world, grew markedly in Europe for years afterwards.

Endre Mozes Responds to Derfner

Eye-witness’ remark to the Al-Durra Dispute

Open Letter, a Not-Unfriendly one, Re: Larry Derfner’s considered reply to Maurice Ostroff

By Endre MOZES*
2008 June 5

Dear Maurice, dear Larry – Your exchange became sincere and inspiring, thanks to you both. My kudos, Larry, for the long way you made in your “considered reply” relative to your “Rattling the Cage…” article in the JPost on May 28. Sorry if my response is a bit late; I offered this first for publication to The Jerusalem Post, which chose not to publish it.

I add factual remarks to your dispute; for one who follows the case for years and was present in the Paris court at its last three meetings: on 2007 Nov 14 – the screening and cross-investigation of the France 2 TV film’s raw footage shown first ever, on 2008 Feb 27- the argumentations of the two sides, and on May 21 – to hear the verdict.

I eye-witnessed this first public screening of the raw footage – and of course not the event in Gaza and the making of the film; these were witnessed by one person only: Talal Abu-Rahmeh, the Palestinian cameraman. (One witness only, and what a witness…)

I watched the raw footage carefully from a good position in the courtroom, and scrutinized details, using my forty plus years of experience in learning, practicing and teaching engineering – a discipline working with facts only.

I save you from hearing my dozen, partly complex, partly indicative-only arguments, and am presenting you one argument only, which is clear, reproducible and sufficient to prove Israeli non-involvement and most probable Palestinian staging.
Let’s leave aside “clouds of dust” which fly away and are difficult for explanations. Let’s see bullet-holes. There are nine in the wall behind the Al-Durras, seen very well in full screen (in close-ups only 3 to 7 are seen). These bullet-holes are perfectly round on the head-on film/photos taken, meaning they hit also head-on, exactly from the direction of the cameraman. (More exactly: the holes are not smoothly round but ‘centrally symmetrical’.)

Le Monde s’intéresse enfin à la fauxtographie : faut-il s’étonner du résultat ?

[NDLR: Il y a presque deux ans que j'ai écrit une analyse sur la façon dont Le monde a parlé du scandale "fauxtographie" dans la guerre du Liban, été 2006. A la suite de la decision étonnante de la cour au sujet de la plainte de Charles Enderlin contre Philippe Karsenty, et la pétition révélatirice au Novel Obs je mets une traduction française en ligne pour mieux permettre au lecteur francophone de déceler l'attitude des "journalistes" des grands médias, et de mieux evaluer les renseignements qui lui parviennent de leurs parts au sujets des "faux" issus du proche orient.]

Stuart, l’un des participants de ce site, nous a fait parvenir une traduction d’un article du Monde sur le scandale fauxtographique. Cet article illustre bien à quel point les médias français sont mal informés de ce qui se passe dans leurs coulisses, et comme ils sont mal outillés pour simplement comprendre les défis de la blogosphère, et encore moins s’en accommoder.

L’auteur, Claire Guillot, ne parait pas mal intentionnée ; au contraire, elle semble vouloir s’essayer à l’impartialité. Cependant, le résultat est révélateur.

[NDLR : les citations de l'article du Monde sont en gras, les citations autres sont en italiques ; la fin de ce texte reprend, en la développant, une publication précédente sur ce site]

Guerre du Liban et “fauxtographies”

Le conflit a suscité une polémique sur le Net, des bloggeurs conservateurs soupçonnant les images d’être manipulées. C’est par Little Green Footballs que le scandale est arrivé : début août, ce blog américain conservateur accuse Adnan Hajj, photographe pigiste de l’agence Reuters, d’avoir manipulé par informatique une photo de Beyrouth pour épaissir la fumée après un bombardement israélien. Effectivement, la retouche est grossière. L’agence présente ses excuses et retire la photo incriminée. Mais le blog met ensuite en évidence une autre photo de M. Hajj, où il a dupliqué une fusée tirée par un avion israélien. Le photographe, qui ne maîtrise apparemment pas bien le logiciel de retouche Photoshop, est renvoyé, toutes ses archives effacées. « Il y a eu un enchaînement d’erreurs humaines, plaide Tom Szlukovenyi, directeur de la photographie chez Reuters. Cette histoire est contraire à tous nos principes et ne s’est jamais produite auparavant. »

Là, bien sûr, un journaliste futé pourrait se demander « comment Tom Szlukovenyi peut-il le savoir, surtout s’il a été abusé par le travail, pourtant si maladroit, de son pigiste… et comment vérifier cette affirmation, puisqu’il a retiré des archives la collection des photos de ce pigiste manifestement indélicat, empêchant ainsi un examen approfondi de son œuvre ? » Et, dernière minute, Tom Glocer, le patron de Reuters, est d’un avis strictement contraire, et pense que ces pratiques sont largement répandues.

Mais vous ne trouverez dans l’article du Monde aucune de ces remarques. On enchaîne sur le complot réactionnaire :


Le “reutergate” devient le point de départ d’une cabale sur Internet : des dizaines de bloggeurs, pour la plupart américains ou israéliens, de droite ou d’extrême droite, se proclament “citoyens journalistes” et se mettent à enquêter depuis leur salon. A les croire, les cas de “fauxtographie”, selon un néologisme typique d’Internet, éclaboussent l’ensemble de la profession au Liban : les photographes, manipulés ou manipulateurs, se livreraient à des retouches voire à des mises en scène pour donner une vision tronquée, pro-Hezbollah, voire antisémite, du conflit.

Diantre ! Il faut bien expliquer à vos lecteurs à qui ils ont affaire. On dirait Charles Enderlin muselant ses critiques en les qualifiant de “groupuscules d’extrême droite”. Et, comme pour Enderlin et le reste de la gauche bien-pensante, pure et dure, ce recours tout prêt à l’anathème de l’ensemble des critiques tombe en fait totalement à côté de la plaque. Beaucoup de ces gens actuellement étiquetés “de droite” sont en réalité des exilés, des réfugiés d’une “gauche” qui vit dans un univers imaginaire de déni. L’agence Menapress n’est pas de droite. Elle revendique des objectifs explicitement progressistes. Mais ses journalistes ne sont pas vos compagnons de route. Il en va de même pour les bloggeurs américains Charles Johnson, Roger Simon, et Neo-Neo-con et de nombreux acteurs de la blogosphère. Ils se sont réveillés du sommeil dogmatique.

Ces attaques sont reprises sans précaution par des milliers d’internautes, parfois même relayées par les médias traditionnels (la chaîne américaine Fox News, le tabloïd allemand Bild, le site du Wall Street Journal), voire par les politiques : le ministre des affaires étrangères australien, Alexander Downer, qualifie de “canular” une attaque israélienne visant deux ambulances de la Croix-Rouge, le 23 juillet, en se basant sur les allégations du site Zombieguide, qui trouve les impacts “suspects”.

Que voila un exemple judicieusement choisi ! Peu d’accusations de falsification sont aussi fondées. Claire Guillot a-t-elle seulement lu ce document ? Impacts suspects ? Dîtes plutôt que toute l’affaire est une supercherie grossière.

Thrash of Civilizations on “Freedom” of the Press

A six-member delegation from Pakistan comes to the West to demand that, where Islam is concerned, we curtail freedom of expression. Few issues illustrate better the clash between Western notions of free speech and Muslim desires to control the public sphere. This began back in 1989 with the Rushdie affair, and has not gotten a whole lot better since. This offers an occasion to draw the line. Only when we respect our own institutions (which are kryptonite to Muslim pretensions at a global Caliphate), can we hope to have them respect us. (Hattip LGF)

Pakistan to ask EU to amend laws on freedom of expression

By Tahir Niaz

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will ask the European Union countries to amend laws regarding freedom of expression in order to prevent offensive incidents such as the printing of blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and the production of an anti-Islam film by a Dutch legislator, sources in the Interior Ministry told Daily Times on Saturday.

They said that a six-member high-level delegation comprising officials from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Law would leave Islamabad on Sunday (today) for the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium and explain to the EU leadership the backlash against the blasphemous campaign in the name of freedom of expression.

The delegation, headed by an additional secretary of the Interior Ministry, will meet the leaders of the EU countries in a bid to convince them that the recent attack on the Danish Embassy in Pakistan could be a reaction against the blasphemous campaign, sources said.

They said that the delegation would also tell the EU that if such acts against Islam are not controlled, more attacks on the EU diplomatic missions abroad could not be ruled out.

Sources said that the delegation would also hold discussions on inter-religious harmony during its meetings with the EU leaders.

Comments:

A commission of demopaths, come to denounce democratic institutions in the name of religious harmony and mutual respect. Alas, I suspect they’ll find a warm welcome. More global Jihad warming.

They want Fitna removed, despite the fact that most of it could be a recruiting film for Jihad.

The obvious response to the threat — that there may be more attacks on embassies, which they can’t prevent, i.e., blackmail — is to withdraw the embassies. But we don’t want to walk away from Pakistan, so they play on our unwillingness to let them go down the tubes in order to maneuver us into positions of weakness.

Already, institutions like the Chamber 17 in Paris and the Canadian Human Rights Commission enforce these gag orders.

What Checks and Balances to the Fourth Estate: Appeal for Charles Enderlin Poses the Question

In response to the court decision, some of the “friends of Charles” have come out in support of him with a petition posted at the Nouvel Observateur‘s website. [The Nouvel Obs is one of France's three major news weeklies run by Jean Daniel, who, along with his daughter Sara, are among the signatories.] I have translated and fisked the peition below.

The petition, which Luc Rosenzweig has denounced as a “petition of shame,” and it is a precious document. It reveals the degree of confusion sown in the minds of the French elite by their quasi aristocratic status, which results in a form of (unconscious?) demopathy. Menahem Macina shrewdly points out that it recalls the “patriotic forgery” of an anti-Dreyfussard, who tried to make the forger of the documents that incriminated Dreyfus into a hero and martyr of Jewish malevolence . Like the right-wing anti-Semites of the turn of the 20th century who paraded their hatreds under the banner of Libre Parole [Free Speech], the signers of this petition present their defense of Enderlin’s reputation and indifference to the evidence as a valorous deed in defense of democracy and a free press.

I have argued that one of the fundamental contributors to the progress of Eurabia is an inertial force of aristocracy among the European elite – what one commentator called their “Olympian complex.” This attitude, and the culture that promotes it, reflect the social dynamics not of modern society, but of prime-divider society, not of a sense of equality and solidarity throughout the society, but a sense of privilege and exceptional status among the elite.

In the context of Eurabia, this means that the professional elite – media and political – that pushes the agenda of the European Union has much more in common with other elites in other countries than it does with its own commoners. It can, therefore, easily countenance a massive demographic transfer of Muslim immigrants to do the manual labor – what difference between a Muslim, a Christian, a post-Christian working in a factory? And it can at the same time dismiss without qualms the complaints of commoners when such a transfer does not work. The fate of Brussels, a city where both the capital of the EU (and hence massive numbers of well-paid administrators live) on the one hand, and one of the largest and increasingly aggressive Muslim populations in Europe on the other, offers both a real and symbolic case in point.

This elitism in the case of Charles Enderlin produces a notion of the journalistic profession that rejects transparency, that considers criticism by the journalists’ audience (their reading and viewing public) as inadmissible attacks on their honor and reputation, which threaten one of the main pillars of democracy[!].

APPEAL
For Charles Enderlin
NOUVELOBS.COM | 04.06.2008 | 15:39

Seven years. It’s now seven years that a obstinate and hateful campaign has tried to tarnish the professional dignity of our colleague Charels Enderlin, correspondent for France2 in Jerusalem. For seven years the same individuals have attempted to present as a “hoax” and a “series of staged scenes” his report showing the death of Mohammed al-Doura, 12 years old, killed by fire coming from the Israeli position on the 30 of September 2000 in the Gaza Strip during a confrontation between the Israeli army and armed Palestinians.

As far as I can make out, they think Charles did no wrong in reporting as he did. Even Larry Derfner admits that Charles got it wrong. But the evidence appears nowhere in this manifesto. Charles is, by virtue of his position, above such suspicion, and any effort to criticism is, by definition, obstinate and hateful. Would it ever occur to these enlightened folk to consider the decades-long campaign of Pallywood — with Al Durah as a signal success — as a “hateful and obstinate campaign to tarnish” the international reputation of Israel?

Circling the Wagons around Charles: Le Nouvel Obs calls for Solidarity with their colleague under attack

I put up the following astonishing “public letter of support” for Charles, that paragon of journalistic virtue who is inexplicably allowed to be the target of criticism from people who are not part of the clique. It’s classic ad hominem with no regard for the evidence. In the future, these cosigners will be part of a list of ignominy, the in-crowd that kept the al Durah affair from seeing the light of day for so long. Amazing.

Text in French followed by English translation (mine, subject to correction), followed by the names of signatories.

Comments welcome.

APPEL
Pour Charles Enderlin

NOUVELOBS.COM | 04.06.2008 | 15:39

Sept ans. Voilà sept ans qu’une campagne obstinée et haineuse s’efforce de salir la dignité professionnelle de notre confrère Charles Enderlin, correspondant de France 2 à Jerusalem. Voilà sept ans que les mêmes individus tentent de présenter comme une “supercherie” et une “série de scènes jouées” , son reportage montrant la mort de Mohammed al-Doura, 12 ans, tué par des tirs venus de la position israélienne, le 30 septembre 2000, dans la bande de Gaza, lors d’un affrontement entre l’armée israélienne et des éléments armés palestiniens.

Le 19 octobre 2006, le tribunal correctionnel de Paris avait jugé le principal animateur de cette campagne, Philippe Karsenty, coupable de diffamation.

L’arrêt rendu le 21 mai par la cour d’appel de Paris, saisie par Philippe Karsenty reconnaît que les propos tenus par ce dernier portaient “incontestablement atteinte à l’honneur et à la réputation des professionnels de l’information” mais admet, curieusement, la “bonne foi” de Philippe Karsenty qui “a exercé son droit de libre critique” et “n’a pas dépassé les limites de la liberté d’expression”. Cet arrêt qui relaxe Philippe Karsenty nous surprend et nous inquiète.

Il nous surprend, car il accorde la même crédibilité à un journaliste connu pour le sérieux et la rigueur de son travail, qui fait son métier dans des conditions parfois difficiles et à ses détracteurs, engagés dans une campagne de négation et de discrédit, qui ignorent tout des réalités du terrain et n’ont aucune expérience du journalisme dans une zone de conflit.

Il nous inquiète, car il laisse entendre qu’il existerait désormais à l’encontre des journalistes une “permission de diffamer” qui permettrait à chacun, au nom de la “bonne foi”, du “droit de libre critique” et de la “liberté d’expression” de porter atteinte impunément “à l’honneur et à la réputation des professionnels de l’information”.

Au moment où la liberté d’action des journalistes est l’objet d’attaques répétées, nous rappelons notre attachement à ce principe fondamental, pilier de la démocratie et nous renouvelons à Charles Enderlin notre soutien et notre solidarité.

Paris, 27 mai 2008

English Translation:

APPEAL
For Charles Enderlin
NOUVELOBS.COM | 04.06.2008 | 15:39

Seven years. It’s now seven years that a obstinate and hateful campaign has tried to tarnish the professional dignity of our colleague Charels Enderlin, correspondent for France2 in Jerusalem. For seven years the same individuals have attempted to present as a “hoax” and a “series of staged scenes” his report showing the death of Mohammed al-Doura, 12 years old, killed by fire coming from the Israeli position on the 30 of September 2000 in the Gaza Strip during a confrontation between the Israeli army and armed Palestinians.

On the 19 of October 2006, the correctional tribunal of Paris had judged the principle animator of this campagne, Philippe Karsenty, guilty of defamation.

The decision rendered on the 21 of May by the appeals court of Paris, invoked by Philippe Karsenty recognizes that the claims made by him “unquestionably struck at the honor and professional reputations of the information professionnels” but admits, curiously, that the “good faith” of Philippe Karsenty, who “exercised his right to free criticism” and “did not transgress the limits of free speech.” This decision which exonerates Philippe Karsenty both surprises and worries us.

We are surprised, because it grants the same credibility to a journalist known for the seriousness and rigor of his work, who exercises his profession in sometimes difficult conditions, and to his detractors, engaged in a campaign of negation and discrediting, who ignore all the realities of the terrain and have no experience of reporting from a conflict zone.

It worries us, because it gives permission in the future for a “permission to defame” journalists, which would permit anyone, in the name of “good faith” and “the right of free criticism,” to strike with impunity at the “honor and reputation of information professionals.”

At a time when the freedom of action of journalists is the object of repeated attacks, we invoke our attachment to this fundamental principle, pillar of democracy and we renew our support and solidarity with Charles Enderlin.

Paris, 27 of May 2008

Pour soutenir cet appel, cliquer ici

Les premiers signataires

Help for the Drowning: Derfner Wrestles with the Data

Maurice Ostroff has been discussing Larry Derfner’s op-ed piece (which I’ve fisked here) with him. Here are LD’s current objections to the “staging” hypothesis which Maurice posted at a list-serv, with my and Nidra Poller’s responses. Judging from his observations and arguments, I’d say the epithet “intellectual” still escapes him. (Hat tip: Solomonia)

Dear Maurice:

While there is good reason to think Palestinians, not the IDF, killed al-Dura, and good reason to suspect that Enderlin and Abu Rahme stonewalled in the face of evidence that their story was mistaken – although not to conclude as such without hearing their side first – there are very strong reasons NOT to believe the shooting was staged.

By all means, Larry, talk with them. But be ready to confront them when they lie to you. I presume that Enderlin won’t try the map trick with you.

enderlin's map
Map Enderlin drew for me of Netzarim Junction the first time I saw him. He puts the Israeli position across the street (i.e., the place where the bullets are coming from). Apparently he drew similar maps for others he thought were ill-informed enough to believe whatever he said.

But he might try the “Tanzim behind the barrel” with you. And be sure to ask him about the “cutting the unbearable death throes.”

A few points:

1. How can anybody call the shooting “staged” when real bullets were being fired – both from Palestinian gunmen AND FROM THE ISRAELI OUTPOST. (See Fallows article saying that from the videos, you can see puffs of smoke coming at various times from gun slits in IDF outpost, and that the examination of the concrete barrel found a number of bullet holes on the side of the barrel facing the IDF outpost. Also, of course, you see bullets hitting the wall in the clip originally broadcast on France 2, even though it’s likely they came from Palestinians.)

Personally, if I were staging a scene of a father and son being fired at, I would hire a marksman to shoot over their heads, otherwise it would be completely unconvincing. Why on earth is the presence of real gunfire proof of no staging? Does LD think the Palestinians have the same “insurance-policy restrictions” that Hollywood has?

As for fire from the Israeli position, we know they fired (France2 has isolated one shot from their position which I treat in my discussion of their use of the evidence). But there is no evidence that they fired during the sequence that Talal filmed of the father and son behind the barrel. All three bullets we can identify come from the Palestinian side. And if they were not deliberately fired in order to help with the staging, how is it that Palestinians are firing individual bullets at the al Durahs when there’s not an Israeli anywhere near them? If you’re going to think like a detective, LD, you have to explain the anomalies, not list them as evidence of confusion.

Finally, there are two bullet holes in the part of the barrel facing the Israelis. This hardly accords with targeting the couple behind the barrel with “bullets like rain” for 40 minutes, and nothing indicates the holes were made either by Israeli fire or during the events in question. None of this evidence is counter-probative in any sense, and much of the argumentation it makes no sense at all.

Honor-Shame culture Afghan Style: The Thirty-Years Feud

A tale of feud from Afghanistan that illustrates the problems of non-state tribal cultures at work and the persistance of alpha-male “pride” to the point of “foolishness.” Hat tip: Robert Schwartz

Afghan blood feud ends after 30 years
By Tom Coghlan in Mohammad Rahim, Nangahar
Last Updated: 12:14PM BST 03/06/2008

The men of an Afghan village have emerged from their fortress homes, safe for the first time in 30 years after the end of a blood feud which had claimed more than 300 lives.
Village menfolk have declared a truce after 30 years of bloodshed

The settlement of Mohammad Rahim is celebrating the end of a war that many believe, though few actually remember, began for age-old reasons – “Zan, Zar, Zemin”, or Women, Gold, Land.

For three decades it ran unchecked and confined the male population to their homes, which were quickly turned into fortresses with bricked-up windows and gun loopholes in the walls. The locals say that even the Taliban took one look at the chaos and went elsewhere.

“It started over Sambola’s widow,” said Malik Abdul Wahab, the leader of one of the sides. “Ashmir Khan was supposed to marry her. But Haji Nasruddin Khan married her instead. Ashmir shot Nasruddin, and that is how it began.”

The fighting split Mohammad Rahim along clan lines, involved the entire population, and spilled into neighbouring Weygel. A total of 318 men were killed in the fighting, which involved 160 families.

The situation inverted the norms of Afghan society as only women, protected from harm under Pashtunwali, the Afghan code of conduct, were able to continue the running of the village.

As their menfolk traded fire from the houses and alleyways above, the women toiled in the fields together without incident.

“Sometimes they shot us, sometimes we would go and attack them. Sometimes it was 12 hours,” said Mr Wahab, stroking a foot-long beard, and shaking his head.

Doulat Beg, 32, a member of the opposing clan, remembers: “In order to leave the village you had to wait until midnight or later and then creep away in the dark. And sometimes they would have ambushes for you.” He lost two nephews, three cousins and one uncle to the fighting.

Then abruptly, at the end of May, the governor of Nangahar province, Gul Agha Sherzai, stomped in and announced the fighting must end.

Mr Sherzai called a jirga, or council session of elders, to end the madness.

“The problem was that for the last thirty years the government was very weak,” said Mr Wahab, neatly spearing the major problem that continues to beset rural Afghanistan. “No outsiders ever came to negotiate an end to our dispute.”

And, apparently, they were incapable of doing so themselves… partly, I suspect, because they wouldn’t listen to their women. The role of the state can serve as a critical brake on the feuding tendencies of alpha males (i.e., the law of might makes right), which one sees at work in this case of what began as a marital dispute in which the woman’s wishes played no role.

Without the intervention, locals say that Afghan male pride would have kept the fighting going into infinity.

“Since I was a 20-year-old I have been in a prison except this last month. Now we sit together, we joke, we are like brothers,” said Mr Wahab, gesturing at Ger Han Khan, a toothless old mountain man who used to be his sworn enemy.

“I lost 11 men of my family. This was all just foolishness.”

Interesting remark. It suggests why progressives believe it’s important to set aside “foolish pride” and behave “rationally.” Even these Pashtun villagers would agree (after 30 years and 300 dead). But can we just set all this aside? Does our rationality, however advantageous, carry with it glaring vulnerabilities? Can these honor-shame dynamics have advantages we do not see, especially when a “rational culture” finds itself in an asymmetrical war with an honor-shame culture? What do we do with that fierce pride that can carry on its vendettas over generations — discard it? or sublimate it?

Honor-Killings and Whistle-blowing: Why Media cannot be free in some cultures

A terrible and terribly revealing tale from Iraq. In reading it, keep in mind my working definition of an honor-shame culture: one in which it is permissable, expected, even required, that you shed someone else’s blood for the sake of your honor. Honor killings of women (daughters, sisters, wives) represent a particular (and I’d argue pathological) direction for this dynamic to take. It’s one thing to challenge another man who has impugned your honor to a duel, quite another to attack an unarmed and defenseless person.

In this case, the victim was one who shamed the family by disagreeing with a husband’s decision to kill his daughter, thus publicly criticizing the man, and publicizing (to the West!) the deed. In understanding the dynamics here, one can begin to realize both a) why there is no free news media in the Arab world, and b) why we cannot rely on information from the Arab world because intimidation is the name of the game for anything that might present that world in a negative light. Without understanding these issues, Western journalism in the Arab world is worse than useless.

It is noteworthy that the Guardian has covered this story extensively, and suggests that despite the built-in prejudice against our hearing about these phenomena, some of this does get through when the Western media shows courage. The Guardian is hardly my favorite newspaper, but I give them kudos when they deserve it.

Mother who defied the killers is gunned down

Five weeks ago Leila Hussein told The Observer the chilling story of how her husband had killed their 17-year-old daughter over her friendship with a British soldier in Basra. Now Leila, who had been in hiding, has been murdered – gunned down in cold blood. Afif Sarhan in Basra and Caroline Davies report on the final act of a brutal tragedy

Afif Sarhan and Caroline Davies

The Observer, Sunday June 1 2008

Leila Hassan
Leila Hussein, who was murdered in Iraq. Photograph: Observer

Leila Hussein lived her last few weeks in terror. Moving constantly from safe house to safe house, she dared to stay no longer than four days at each. It was the price she was forced to pay after denouncing and divorcing her husband – the man she witnessed suffocate, stamp on, then stab their young daughter Rand in a brutal ‘honour’ killing for which he has shown no remorse.

Now there’s a piece of liberal cognitive egocentrism. Why would he express remorse? Because it’s against our rules? Because his wife was unhappy with his behavior? Certainly not because his neighbors disapproved (which is the only likely way he might express remorse).

Though she feared reprisals for speaking out, she really believed that she would soon be safe. Arrangements were well under way to smuggle her to the Jordanian capital, Amman. In fact, she was on her way to meet the person who would help her escape when a car drew up alongside her and two other women who were walking her to a taxi. Five bullets were fired: three of them hit Leila, 41. She died in hospital after futile attempts to save her.

Her death, on 17 May, is the shocking denouement to a tragedy which had its origins in an innocent friendship between her student daughter, Rand Abdel-Qader, 17, and a blond, 22-year-old British soldier known only as Paul.

The two had met while Rand, an English student at Basra University, was working as a volunteer helping displaced families and he was distributing water. Although their friendship appears to have involved just brief, snatched conversations over four months, Rand had confided her romantic feelings for Paul to her best friend, Zeinab, 19.

She died, still a virgin, four months after she had last seen him when her father, Abdel-Qader Ali, 46, discovered that she had been seen talking ‘to the enemy’ in public. She had brought shame on his honour, was his defence, and he had to cleanse his family name. Despite openly admitting the murder, he has received no punishment.

Were the reporters to go into it (as they do below), they would probably discover that his peer group all approved, and the Iraqi authorities, even ones uncomfortable with the depiction of the Brits as “the enemy”, would not try and fight this kind of public opinion. Note that she died a virgin. In Jordan and other places, the fathers/brothers kill the daughter first, wait for the autopsy, and then, if she’s not a virgin, kill the man involved. Why not both right away? Because the man has a clan behind him, hence you need a good reason. The girl has no one behind her, since her own family is doing the murder… no fear of retaliation.