Category Archives: Breaking News

Pallywood 2017: The meaning of the Becky Anderson-UNRWA gaffes

Those paying attention to matters of Pallywood, or the faking of news in order to target a given population with lethal narratives, had a double feast yesterday and today. First UNRWA, the UN agency for helping the Palestinian refugees, used a picture of a forlorn Syrian girl, living in ruins caused by the wars of rule and resistance in that part of the Arab political world, to relay a lethal narrative about Israel, all for the benefit of fundraising for the work of UNRWA.

Imagine being cut off from the world – for your whole life. That’s reality for children like Aya. The blockade of Gaza began when she was a baby, the occupation in the West Bank before her parents were born. Now she is eleven, and the blockade goes on.
Aya’s childhood memories are of conflict and hardship, walls she cannot escape, and the fear that the only home she knows, however tiny, could be gone when she returns from school.
This Ramadan, please help support children like Aya who have known nothing but conflict and hardship. Donate here:

Even those unaware of how much UNRWA employees are either Hamas agents or their dhimmis, can appreciate the moral degradation involved here. Appealing dishonestly to people’s pitying concern for Palestinians, by providing a heavy dollop of moral Schadenfreude about Israel, in order to raise money to prolong the victimization of Gazans.

For a German article on this issue, see Stefan Frank’s take.

Humiliating Slip in Hamas’ Cannibalistic Cognitive War Strategy: Haniyah and Kandil Kiss Baby Hamas Killed

Humiliating Slip in Hamas’ Cannibalistic Cognitive War Strategy: Haniyah and Kandil Kiss Baby Hamas Killed

Here’s a classic. Let’s start with the ghoulish display of sorrow over the body of a dead boy, allegedly killed by Israeli bombing. It’s aimed right at the heart of a someone like Annie Lennox who, upon seeing bombs falling on Gaza immediately imagines Palestinian babies on the receiving end, rather than Hamas militants targeting Israeli babies. And, of course, the news media snatch up the photo-op.

Haniya and Egyptian PM Kandil mugging for the cameras Remember this from Kafr Qana, Lebanon, July 30, 2006: Green Helmet Guy with dusty baby and clean baby toy clip, July 30, 2006. And, of course, the media run with the story. It’s all so obvious. Boy dead from explosion, Israelis bombing Gaza. As the Palestinian “general” in charge of the investigation of Al Durah’s death put it, “there’s no need to investigate when we know who did it. But wait, what about the evidence, asks Elder of Baker Street?

My book is off to OUP. At last!

Today I finally sent in my indexes and page proofs to Oxford University Press. I hope to be more attentive to this blog now that that deadline is off my shoulders. Thanks to the readers who are still with me, and to Fabian Pascal, who has kept this blog alive in my distraction.

Heaven on Earth

The Varieties of the Millennial Experience

Richard Landes
ISBN13: 9780199753598ISBN10: 0199753598Hardback, 592 pages

Jun 2011, Not Yet Published


$35.00 (01)


Millennialists through the ages have looked forward to the apocalyptic moment that will radically transform society into heaven on earth. They have delivered withering critiques of their own civilizations and promised both the impending annihilation to the forces of evil and the advent of a perfect society. And all their promises have invariably failed. We tend, therefore, to dismiss these prophets of doom and salvation as crackpots and madmen, and not surprisingly historians of our secular era have tended to underestimate their impact on our modern world. Now, Richard Landes offers a lucid and ground-breaking analysis of this widely misunderstood phenomenon.

This long-awaited study shows that many events typically regarded as secular–including the French Revolution, Marxism, Bolshevism, Nazism–not only contain key millennialist elements, but follow the apocalyptic curve of enthusiastic launch, disappointment and re-entry into “normal time.” Indeed, as Landes examines the explicit millennialism behind such recent events as the emergence of Global Jihad since 1979, he challenges the common notion that modern history is largely motivated by secular interests. By focusing on ten widely different case studies, none of which come from Judaism or Christianity, he shows that millennialism is not only a cultural universal, but also an extremely adaptive social phenomenon that persists across the modern and post-modern divides. At the same time, he also offers valuable insight into the social and psychological factors that drive such beliefs.
Ranging from ancient Egypt to modern-day UFO cults and global Jihad, Heaven on Earth both delivers an eye-opening revisionist argument for the significance of millennialism throughout history and alerts the reader to the alarming spread of these ideologies in our world today.


  • Revisionist argument about the significance of millennialism throughout history
  • Focuses on millennialism across many religious and supposedly secular groups, showing that the movement is not exclusive to Judaism and Christianity
  • Chapters on Xhosa Cattle Slaying (1856-67), Cargo Cults, Pharaoh Akhenaten (1350 BCE), the Chinese Taiping (1850-64), UFOlogy, French Revolution, Marxism, Soviet Revolution, Nazism.
  • Final Chapter on Global Jihad as an active, cataclysmic apocalyptic movement aiming at a hierarchical Millennium.
  • Conclusion comparing Anthropogenic Global Warming with Global Jihad Warming as “empirically-based” apocalyptic prophecies for the 21st Century.

Product Details

592 pages; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4;ISBN13: 978-0-19-975359-8ISBN10: 0-19-975359-8

Death of Michelle Shatzman

I just received the following email.

I am the son of Michelle Schatzman.

Unfortunately, my mother passed away recently, last Friday in the early morning after a six-year battle with cancer. Her service is on Tuesday in Paris.

I know my mother was active on your website and appreciated your writing.

I know all of the regular commenters here will miss Michelle’s participation greatly, but surely not so much as her family and friends. Condolences to them, may they be spared any more sorrow for a long time

If anyone in Paris is able to attend her service, please let me know and I’ll get you in touch with her son.

As a memento of her contribution, this was her last substantive comments here:

Another consideration: it is much better to fight people who think like Hezbollah and Hamas, if you can enlist in an army whose job it is to fight them. If your main choice is to hide when you walk around with a soccer cap above the kippa and whatever tricks you can imagine or to be beaten, the choice is pretty obvious, isn’t it?

By the way, my feelers tell me that jewish intellectuals who identify to judaism are much more solid and trustable for a republican point of view than non jewish intellectuals or jewish intellectuals with no attachment to judaicity.

Israeli Army claims their troops were attacked by “peaceful” militants

This just came from the Army Spokesperson’s office:

IDF Forces Met with Pre-Planned Violence when attempting to Board Flotilla

Early this morning, IDF Naval Forces intercepted six ships attempting to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. This happened after numerous warnings from Israel and the Israel Navy that were issued prior to the action. The Israel Navy requested the ships to redirect toward Ashdod where they would be able to unload their aid material which would then be transferred over land after undergoing security inspections.

During the intercept of the ships, the demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. Additionally one of the weapons used was grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.

As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, including live fire.

According to initial reports, these events resulted in over ten deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injured, in addition, more than four naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers are moderately wounded and the remainder sustained light injuries. All of the injured, Israelis and foreigners are currently being evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.

Reports from IDF forces on the scene are that it seems as if part of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces.

The events are ongoing, and information will be updated as soon as possible. Israeli Naval commander, Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom is overseeing the events.

In the coming hours, the ships will be directed to the Ashdod port, while IDF naval forces will perform security checks in order to identify the people on board the ships and their equipment. The IDF Spokesman conveys that this event is currently unfolding and further details will be provided as soon as possible.

This IDF naval operation was carried out under orders from the political leadership to halt the flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip and breaching the naval blockade.

The interception of the flotilla followed numerous warnings given to the organizers of the flotilla before leaving their ports as well as while sailing towards the Gaza Strip. In these warnings, it was made clear to the organizers that they could dock in the Ashdod sea port and unload the equipment they are carrying in order to deliver it to the Gaza Strip in an orderly manner, following the appropriate security checks. Upon expressing their unwillingness to cooperate and arrive at the port, it was decided to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.

IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack and to harm them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail.

Additional information:

Rosner on the fog of conflict, now and then:


Ben Eliezer: regrets, but NB: after troops came under fire

Latest from JPost:

soldiers attacked with live ammunition,7340,L-3896500,00.html,7340,L-3896431,00.html,7340,L-3896416,00.html

BBC Silent about being Terrorized in Gaza: Discretion or Cowardice?

Israeli media reports that Hamas took over the first floor of the building that the BBC offices in Gaza last night and fired rockets from there, trapping the journalists above. Despite the fact that their reporters have now escaped the building, the BBC has so far not said anything about this.

When I was interviewed on the BBC last week, I commented on the pervasive intimidation of the MSM in Gaza, which is one of the reasons that there were none there when the hostilities broke out. I pointed out that the last journalist resident in Gaza, Alan Johnston, now the editor in chief, only survived because he was so openly pro-Palestinian, and even he got kidnapped and brutalized.

“I’ll cut that out to spare you a law suit, my interviewer said. You’re impugning the integrity of a journalist, and without his credibility he can’t practice his profession.” I was at once struck by the combination of concern for reputation and shamelessness involved in such a “favor” to me.

But here’s the BBC, used as human shields by Hamas, and they won’t let the public know.

Now on the other hand, the Foreign Press has decided to boycott the visual material released by the Army Spokesperson’s Unit (Dover Tzahal) because they object to not being allowed to go into Gaza and — get this — to the Israelis shelling buildings that hold press offices in Gaza. (I kid you not.)

From: The Foreign Press Association

Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2009 2:27 PM

Subject: Urgent notice to members

The FPA rejects and condemns the IDF policy of controlling the news coverage of the events in Gaza. by preventing the entry of foreign journalists into Gaza and bombing buildings housing offices of international media – contrary to IDF assurances that these media buildings would be safe – the IDF is severely violating basic principles of respect for press freedom.

As a result of these unconscionable breaches, the FPA calls on all its members not to broadcast or print stills and videos the IDF provides as a substitute to independent reporting – until such time the IDF issues a formal apology for the attacks on the media buildings and offers assurances that no such event will occur in the future.

The Foreign Press Association

It’s hard to find a finer illustration of the sad truth that the media will behave in craven fashion towards those who will hurt them if the journalists displease them, and in arrogant fashion towards those who won’t retaliate. Despite the many and vociferous denunciations of the Israelis in their statements during the current conflict, not one discusses misbehavior by Hamas.

And the righteous indignation of the letter further illustrates my belief that, unable to admit to either their public or themselves that they are intimidated, they hid behind a pseudo-ideology that permits them to wax morally eloquent. Alas for the state of journalism. Alas for the MSM’s Western public! Alas that Israel won’t denounce these hypocrites.

Astonishing Statistic: How does this operation rank in the history?

After the first day, when the highest numbers bandied around were in the low 200s, Hamas admitted, according to PMW, to a death toll of 180 policemen.

Hamas TV: 180 killed are from Hamas armed forces
Among those killed Hamas Police Commander, Tawfik Jaber

Hamas TV acknowledged this morning that the vast majority of those killed are from the Hamas military. A news ticker running repeatedly from 10:00 AM announced:

“More than 180 Palestinian policemen were killed including the [Police] Commander, General Tawfik Jaber.”

In the background Hamas TV is repeatedly broadcasting the same scenes of dozens of bodies of the uniformed Hamas soldiers who were killed in Israel’s first attack yesterday when Israel hit the Hamas officer’s course graduation ceremony.

Hamas TV, Dec. 28, 2008

I note three things about this:

  • Hizbullah systematically disguised the high death toll during the 2006 summer war because “real men” don’t show they’ve been hurt. High casualties are only good if they are civilian casualties. To admit to this many dead policemen is a shame on every level. Can anyone think of a reason to doubt this figure?
  • Policemen are only one of the many military operations that Israelis targeted. How many other of the casualties after day 1, according to Palestinian sources are combatants.
  • This suggests something around a 80-90% military to civilian mortality rate as a result of Israeli airstrikes.

What is the historical record here? What are the other examples of ratios in an aerial bombardment of hostile forces operating from a civilian area? What are the acceptable ratios in US and British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq?

UPDATE: Reuters reports that Haniya claims “15 women and some children” killed in the raids. (HT/Media Backspin)

Hamas estimated that at least 15 women and some children had been killed in the past two days. “Palestine has never seen an uglier massacre,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said.

AP writers, Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel report

More than 400 people were also wounded. Most of the casualties were security forces, but Palestinian officials said at least 15 civilians were among the dead.

Taking the 15 as the total of civilian casualties, Media Backspin comes up with a figure of 94.8% of the casualties are military men. If even approximately true, that would make this operation the cleanest in the history of aerial warfare, and probably set a standard for decades to come despite the continuously improving nature of targeting systems.

Haniya’s remark is particularly revealing of his quadruple standard. As Belmont Club points out

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported that in one seven day period alone, between June 7 and 14, 2007 internecine fighting between Fatah and Hamas killed 161 Palestinians, including 7 children and 11 women. Nor has it stopped. In June of 2008, human rights groups reported that both Fatah and Hamas were engaged in kidnapping and torturing each other’s operatives. The hammer of violence and repression falls on everyone…

The standard would only be double if it didn’t apply to the enemy; here it applies to one’s own people. What I do is justified, right or wrong; what you do is evil, justified or not.

Further UPDATE: Of course these statistics show up in a significantly different form in Palestinian publications, which regularly speak of massacres, despite the fact that that, traditionally, applies not to the killing of combatants, but of civilians. In order to make that work, the Al Mezan, a Palestinian Human Rights Organization, makes its own assertions.

Mostly, the strikes targeted police and security installations across the densely populated Gaza Strip, which is indicative of IOF’s disregard for civilian life and well-being. More than 900 people have been killed and injured, most of whom are non-combatants…

In order to document this claim about “most of [the casualties] are non-combatants, Al Mezan gives statistics:

Al Mezan’s initial monitoring indicates that at least 257 people have been killed in the IOF’s strikes in the last 24 hours. Of those, the vast majority are non-combatants and civilians; including 20 children, nine women and 60 civilians. The majority of the rest of the casualties are members of the civilian police who were inside their stations or undertaking training. At least 597 people were also injured, including 35 children whose wounds were reportedly critical.

(IOF, for those who don’t frequent Palestinian media, is “Israel Occupation Forces.” It’s so important for Palestinian identity that Israelis be occupiers — explains all their suffering — that they can’t bear letting go of them, even after the Israelis leave, as in Gaza. It’s almost like Israel says, “I wan’t a divorce,” and they respond, “You can’t divorce me, you’re still beating me.”)

So the charge is that the “vast majority” are non-combatants and civilians, not because they can total 89 civilians out of 257 (or almost exactly 33%), but by claiming that the Gaza police forces are non-combatants.

Of course, all of this emanates from people who find the targeting of civilians in Israel “resistance,” and who have nothing to say about Hamas’ stationing of hostile forces within the Palestinian civilian population. In fact, given Hamas’ behavior — firing from civilian areas, locating military installations in civilian areas, hiding among civilians — they are responsible for their own casualties.

Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949. (HT: Alvin Rosenfeld)

Art. 28. The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.
Rules for the Limitation of the Dangers incurred by the Civilian Population in Time of War. ICRC, 1956 CHAPTER II : OBJECTIVES BARRED FROM ATTACK

Immunity of the civilian population

Art. 6. Attacks directed against the civilian population, as such, whether with the object of terrorizing it or for any other reason, are prohibited. This prohibition applies both to attacks on individuals and to those directed against groups.

In consequence, it is also forbidden to attack dwellings, installations or means of transport, which are for the exclusive use of, and occupied by, the civilian population.

Nevertheless, should members of the civilian population, Article 11 notwithstanding, be within or in close proximity to a military objective they must accept the risks resulting from an attack directed against that objective.

Will we ever know even approximately?

Further UPDATE: The stakes here are quite high. One major dimension of the issue of disproportionality of the use of force concerns whether military or civilian sites are targeted.

Is There Proportionality Against Military Forces?

And in fighting counterinsurgency wars, most armies seek to achieve military victory by defeating the military capacity of an adversary, as efficiently as possible. There clearly is no international expectation that military losses in war should be on a one-to-one basis; most armies seek to decisively eliminate as many enemy forces as possible while minimizing their own losses of troops. There are NATO members who have been critical of “Israel’s disproportionate use of force,” while NATO armies take pride in their “kill ratios” against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, decisive military action against an aggressor has another effect: it increases deterrence.14 To expect Israel to hold back in its use of decisive force against legitimate military targets in Gaza is to condemn it to a long war of attrition with Hamas.

The loss of any civilian lives is truly regrettable. Israel has cancelled many military operations because of its concern with civilian casualties. But should civilian losses occur despite the best efforts of Israel to avoid them, it is ultimately not Israel’s responsibility. As political philosopher Michael Walzer noted in 2006: “When Palestinian militants launch rocket attacks from civilian areas, they are themselves responsible – and no one else is – for the civilian deaths caused by Israeli counterfire.”15

International critics of Israel may be looking to craft balanced statements that spread the blame for the present conflict to both sides. But they would be better served if they did not engage in this artificial exercise, and clearly distinguish the side that is the aggressor in this conflict – Hamas – and the side that is trying to defeat the aggression – Israel.

Ugly Riots In Acco on Yom Kippur

An ugly situation unfolded in Acco Yom Kippur eve as tensions between Jews and Arabs in the city exploded into riots and vandalism. There was another demonstration Thursday night as well.

Neither side comes off very well here. It seems that the incident was started when an intoxicated Arab resident drove into a Jewish neighborhood blasting music on the holiest day of the Jewish year. He refused to leave, and Jewish teens attacked him. Arabs youths quickly heard about the scuffle and started rioting through Jewish neighborhoods. Rumors have caused riots among Arab repeatedly in the North, including the fighting between Arabs and Druze after rumors circulated that Arab youths were posting pictures of nude Druze girls on the internet.

It is especially disturbing that the Arab residents were yelling “Allahu Akbar” as they smashed the windows of Jewish-owned shops. It seems the police acted swiftly and effectively to bring the situation under relative control, but this is a reminder of how delicate the balance is in northern Israel between Muslim Arab,s Christian Arabs, Druze, Bedouins, and Jews.

From The Jerusalem Post:

A riot in Acre shattered the Yom Kippur calm on Wednesday night as hundreds of the city’s Arab residents vandalized Jewish-owned shops and vehicles and clashed with police.

On Thursday evening, tensions boiled over again during a demonstration held by Jews against the previous evening’s occurrences. Both Jews and Arabs clashed with police in various parts of the racially divided city, leading to 10 arrests. In total, at least eight people were lightly injured in the successive nights of violence.

For part of Thursday evening, the city was in lockdown, its entrances temporarily closed off, as hundreds of riot and border police armed with water cannons and tear gas worked to restore calm to Acre’s streets.

Police say the disturbances were sparked deliberately on Wednesday evening when an Arab driver, Tawfik Jamal – a resident of Acre’s Old City – made his way to the predominantly Jewish Ben-Gurion neighborhood in the eastern part of the city, blasting loud music from his vehicle as a provocation on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

Pictures of the Attack

My daughter Noa Landes is here in Israel this summer working as a photography intern at the Jerusalem Post. She was immediately sent to the scene and these are some of her exclusive photos.

bulldozer attack 1 blog
View from an apartment on Jaffa St down to the scene of the attack. These two cars were smashed by the bulldozer. At least one of the fatalities took place here.

bulldozer attack 2 blog
This is a street level view of the two cars.

bulldozer attack 4 blog
The body of one of the victims was taken to the side to be evacuated after allh the survivors were seen to by the emergency workers.

bulldozer attack blog 5
There were two buses hit by the Bulldozer. This one sustained minor damage compared to the other whick was turned on its side.

bulldozer attack blog 6
This view of Jaffa St. Goes from east to west, following the path of the attacker. in the foreground are the two cars. In the middleground and background there are the two buses that were hit as well as more cars that were damaged by the rampage as well as emergency vehicles.

Sudden Jihad Syndrome in Jerusalem?

An Arab took control of a giant bulldozer and started charging up Jaffo St. in Jerusalem crushing cars and eventually overturning a bus.

Eyewitness Account

bulldozer attack jerusalem
Photo by Noa Landes

At least four dead, 45 injured, some badly. Let’s see how he’s treated in the Arab and Muslim press. It’s not clear whether the driver was a known problem case from East Jerusalem, or whether he just was one of the construction workers on the scene. If the latter, this looks like a case of “Sudden Jihad Jerusalem syndrome,” if the former, a minor variant on 9-11 (use big transportation vehicle to do as much damage as possible).

There are still people (bodies?) under the tractor.

There’s footage of the attack with an man riding shotgun on the tractor. It’s a off-duty Israeli soldier who took a pistol from a policeman and shot the driver. He is a relative of the man who shot the terrorist who shot up the religious school Merkaz ha-Rav several months ago.

My first press release comes in German from Ulrich Sahm:

Ein Terroranschlag, wie es ihn in Israel noch nicht gegeben hat. Ein mutmaßlich arabischer Traktorfahrer rast mit erhobener Bulldozerschaufel durch den dichten Verkehr auf der Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, einer Hauptverkehrsader. Er wirft einen Touristenbus um und auf der Strecke bleiben mehrere zerquetschte Personenwagen, bis er schliesslich noch einen Bus umwirft. Ein bewaffneter Polizist schießt auf den Traktorfahrer. Schon verletzt setzt er seine Amokfahrt fort. Schließlich steigt ein anderer Polizist auf das Dach des Traktors und erschießt den Mann. Beim Gebäude des ehemaligen Schaarei Zedek Hospitals kommt der Buldozer zum Stehen. Mindestens dreißig Verletzte und eine unbekannte Zahl von Toten soll es gegeben haben. Zwei Tote wurden schon nach einer halben Stunde bestätigt. Unklar ist, ob vielleicht sogar zwei Traktoren an dem Anschlag beteiligt waren.

Ein politischer Kommentator vergleicht die Amokfahrt mit dem 11.9., nicht wegen der Zahl der Toten, sondern wegen der Methode, ohne echte Waffe einen Mordanschlag zu veranstalten.

Eine halbe Stunde nach der Amokfahrt erklärt die Polizei schon, dass es sich bei dem Traktorfahrer um einen Palästinenser aus Ostjerusalem handle. Er sei der Polizei „bekannt“, wegen verschiedener Straftaten.

Unklar ist, ob er einer der Traktorfahrer ist, die auf der Jaffastreet beim Verlegen der Trasse für die künftige Straßenbahn beteiligt ist.


The bulldozer driver was a 32-year old Palestinian with two children [and no hope — rl] who was known to the Israeli police as involved in criminal activity.

Four dead and 44 seriously injured.

UPDATE from Pierre Lurcat:

Channel 2 news report:

Cell phone video of the event.

Further comments:

Terror Purposely Targets Civilians – The terrorist operating the bulldozer chose his victims deliberately – even starting his attack by motioning for a woman driver to precede him, before crushing her vehicle with his shovel. He went on to run-down pedestrians, ram two buses, and crush a number of civilian cars.

Among his innocent victims is an infant, who was injured in the attack and taken to hospital. Eyewitnesses told police that the murdered mother saved her baby, by throwing the child out the car window, just before the bulldozer crushed her to death.

Hateful Extremism vs. Cooperative Pragmatism – The terrorists of the region are indoctrinated and driven by a blind hate for Israelis, Jews and all non-Moslems, denying them their most basic rights, even their right to life. The attack took place in Jerusalem, a city which serves as Israel’s capital, yet is shared by Jews and Arabs, with freedom of movement for all its residents. While the terrorist was an Arab resident of Jerusalem, so too was the driver of the first bus he attacked. This bus driver, who serves as an example of cooperation that can be achieved between Jews and Arabs, was able to swerve his bus and minimize the damage of the bulldozer’s blade.

Terrorism despite Peace Efforts – The attack today comes as Israel is actively pursuing peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas. It also comes as an Egyptian-brokered state of calm was just achieved regarding Gaza, in which Israel demonstrated its desire to exhaust all efforts to achieve a halt to terrorist rocket attacks against its citizens, without having to resort to the use of force. Israel will continue its efforts to achieve peace with its pragmatic Palestinian neighbors, despite the efforts of the extremists to torpedo the process.

How will the MSM cover this? How will diplomats respond?

Editorial by David Horovitz of the Jerusalem Post (Hattip EG):

The security barrier has dramatically reduced the incidence of attacks inside Israel by West Bank Palestinians in recent years. But two months ago, in the last major terror attack in the capital, an east Jerusalem resident killed eight students in a Thursday night attack at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva. On Wednesday again, Jerusalem’s vulnerability to an attack from ‘within’ by a perpetrator with the residency rights to move freely around the city was murderously demonstrated.

Round Three: France2 Appeals to the Cour de Cassation

I just received news from Philippe Karsenty that France2 has taken the case to the highest court of appeals. The implications of this decision are manifold. Accepting comments.

Karsenty Wins Court Decision!!

More details to follow. But word from Paris is that the court dismissed charges against Philippe Karsenty today. Now we get to see how the French (and Western) MSM handle this. It’s a stunning victory for Karsenty and loss for Enderlin and France2 who initiated this case when they didn’t have to.

In order for an appeals court to reverse a decision, they must have strong evidence to the contrary.

The fact that they did indicates that their written decision will be very critical of France2. The implications of this decision are immense. We’ll be following up in the days, weeks and months to come.

In the Emperor’s New Clothes when the boy (Shahaf, Juffa, Poller, me, Karsenty) said the emperor (France2, MSM) is naked, the father turned on his son and tried to hush him. But someone else then says, “Listen to the boy!” That happened today in Paris.


AP in Nouvel Observateur

Juffa in MENA

Israel Matsav

Franceinfo in which Maitre Amblard, the lawyer for France2 suggests that her clients are seriously considering appealing the decision to the “cour de cassation.” Those whom the gods would destroy, first they drive mad.

Breath of the Beast: brilliant analysis by a man I’m proud to call my associate.

Noah Pollack at Commentary’s blog, Contentions.

Ed Lasky at American Thinker.

Haviv Rettig at the Jerusalem Post: Rettig’s is the most informative item out so far, with responses from both Karsenty and Enderlin/France2 (who seem like they’ll take this to the supreme court).

Phyllis Chesler, an interview at Pajamas Media.

Tom Gross at the Media Blog of NRO

AP, typically about six steps behind the curve (still discussing who killed the boy).

Liberation: which has some of the language of the court decision including the observation that, athough the claims of Karsenty were indeed defamatory in that they struck at the honor and reputation of the “information professionals”, given the impact of the images, it was nonetheless legitimate for an agency of media critique to to call into question the manner in which the footage was filmed and diffused, and that the court’s close examination of the rushes has led it to believe that they cannot dismiss the claims of professionals heard in the course of the hearings who had put the original report in doubt. Promising.

Le Point: good article, extremely interesting comments including one from someone who started out supporting Enderlin and then saw the evidence… shades of Dreyfus.

IsraelValley: French, short, refers to Karsenty’s interview on Radio J.

Enderlin’s blog: where he promises to take this to the highest court.

Véronique Chemla at Guysen: the most extensive and annotated discussion (as usual).

Gérard Huber on his own blog: characteristically enigmatic (he refers to the “Al Durah Enigma” rather than “Affair”). I’ll try my hand at translating one passage:

Cette fuite devant le traumatisme de la réalité qui a été préalablement remplacée par un cauchemar éveillé est un des phénomènes les plus inquiétants de la morale civilisée dans une société de culture mondialisée comme la nôtre.

[This flight from the trauma of reality which had been previously replaced by a waking nightmare is one of the most disquieting phenomena of civilized morality in a society of globalized culture like ours.]

Muhammad al Durah Decision Today

Today the French court of appeals comes down with its decision. The outcome, whiich we will know in hours is, alas, unpredictable. Were the court’s decision based entirely on the evidence — as it should be — the decision would be clear. Philippe Karsenty had a dozen excellent reasons for accusing France2 and Charles Enderlin of presenting their viewing pulbic with staged footage, whether they knew it at the time or not. But past experience with the French courts suggests that decisions do not necessarily derive from the evidence alone. Hence the uncertainty.

For those who want to examine some of the msjor evidence upon which the court is, in principle, basing its decision, they can conslut here:

1. The 18 minutes of France2 rushes taken by Talal abu Rahmah, the cameraman whose work and testimony created the affair are available.

Note: they have been edited down by at least three, possibly nine minutes. See here for the discussion I posted immediately after the session in which they were shown.

2. France2’s video presentation to the court in which they try to “explain” the footage from Talal (their version of what I did in Pallywood (with other footage from that day) with a different conclusion (surprise!).

This video is chock full of errors and illustrates precisely why Pallywood — no matter how shoddy — works. Because even when a Western news organization is put on notice that they are suspected of running staged footage as real news, they continue to do precisely that.

3. For a first analysis of how France2 made a fool of themselves with this video, see this analysis I recorded for Pajamas Media:

This presentation focuses on the “Molotov Cocktail Kid”. By viewing the same scene taken by two different cameramen, two things become clear: 1) the other cameraman is technically superior: his footage is in focus and sustained and actually permits us to identify the staging. He is a cameraman of Pallywood. 2) Talal’s work is technically awful: the footage is broken into incomprehensible pieces, out of focus, jostled. But that makes it believable as “cinéma vérité.” Talal is a Pallywood cameraman.

4. Later today I will post another analysis of the France2 court video, using the rushes and other evidence. If anyone wants to know what kind of material the court examined in making its decision, this video is one of the better guides.

This will be available at PJMedia at about noon EST. I will make both an English and French script available at that time. (Warm thanks to Menahem Macina of for the timely French translation.)

News Flash: Liveleak takes down Fitna due to threats

Story at Atlas Shrugs and Little Green Footballs.

The movie is still available for viewing at YouTube:

France2 begins to sweat, tries to bully

I will be giving a talk tomorrow at the IDC in Herzliya on Muhammad al Durah. The invitation reads as follows:

    The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center in conjunction with the Raphael Recanati International School (RRIS), the Ambassador’s Club and StandWithUs International, is pleased to invite you to a symposium with

    Professor Richard Landes, Boston University

    “Icon of Hatred:
    The Muhammad al Dura Affair: From Media to Internet to Courtroom”

    On Wednesday, January 9, 2008, from 18:00 – 19:45
    In the Arison building, room A318
    17:30- Light meal in the Arison Lobby

    On September 30, 2000, Palestinian photographer Talal abu Rahmah filmed a father and son allegedly shot by Israeli troops at Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip. Charles Enderlin, correspondent for France2, showed the film on television claiming the Israelis targeted the defenceless pair, killing the boy and wounding his father badly. The story became a global sensation, a symbolic image of the Intifada’s struggle against a murderous Israeli army.

    Despite extensive contradictions between Talal’s account and the evidence of his own footage, most of which point to the strong likelihood that he staged the whole scene, the media accepted this version and has resisted efforts bring these doubts to the public’s attention. But with investigators writing on the Internet the story took on a life of its own. Enderlin, in an attempt to suppress even these marginal voices, sued several of these cyber-critics for defamation. Despite early victories, his offensive turned against him last month when the court viewed some of Talal’s raw footage.

    Historian Richard Landes has maintained the most extensively documented website concerning this affair, and has closely followed and reported on the Muhammad al-Dura story since it began. He will discuss the affair, its implications and impact, and will also show and analyze film clips, some of which have not been seen before publicly.

    The event will be conducted in English and start with opening remarks by Prof. Barry Rubin, Director, The GLORIA Center, followed by a short lecture on the use of propaganda in the media from Dr. Yariv Ben-Eliezar from IDC Herzliya’s Sammy Ofer School of Communications. Prof. Landes will make his presentation immediately afterwards.

    For more information or any special requests, please contact Keren Ribo, Director of Operations, The GLORIA Center (, at: [email protected]: 972-9-960-2736, Cell: 972-52-390-0609.
    Or Jeremy Ruden, Director, International Media Relations, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, at: [email protected] Tel: 972-9-960-2754, Cell: 972- 52- 407-0775.

The invitation was sent to all major press agencies in Israel, including France2. As a result, the organizers of the conference received the following letter from the lawyers representing France2 (translated from the Hebrew, if anyone wants a copy of the Hebrew original, please let me know):

Aharonson Sher Abulafia Amoday & Co. Law Offices

To: The GLORIA Center
The Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya
P.O. Box 167
Herzliya, 46150

Re: Conference on the Muhammad al-Dura affair

Our clients, France 2 and Mr. Charles Enderlin, have instructed me to address you as follows:

1. This letter is intended to express our client’s firm protest concerning “the Muhammad al-Dura Affair” conference to be held on January 9, 2008, and concerning the invitation to this event, which makes a broad and misleading use of our clients’ names, and without even obtaining their view.

2. The conference, according to the above invitation, plans to deal with the footage of French television photographer Talal abu Rahmah and the reporting of network correspondent Mr. Charles Enderlin regarding the September 30, 2000 shots fired toward Jamal and Muhammad al-Dura, which resulted in Muhammad’s death and his father, Jamal, being seriously wounded.

3. Beyond the fact that the conference invitation is full of accusations and inaccuracies, to say the least in everything concerning this matter, it is not acceptable from any perspective that such a conference be held in such a one-sided manner, without bringing forth our clients’ response and moreover without addressing them on this matter.

4. In order to present the matters accurately, I will cite the correct facts relating to the information appearing on the invitation:

a. The tape which was filmed by Mr. Talal abu Rahmah is authentic footage of the events which occurred at the Netzarim Junction on September 30, 2000. This does not refer to something staged, and our clients view this offhanded accusation gravely.

b. Mr. Enderlin has never acted, and is not acting, to cancel the criticism against him and France 2. Even in real time, our clients broadcast every relevant response, even if it was opposed to the events as our clients viewed them. It is not clear where you obtained the audacity to note on the conference invitation that criticism against our clients has been “blocked” by libel suits. Our clients are acting with the tools provided to them by law in order to prevent damage to their good name—and nothing more. The insinuation that our clients have acted otherwise is truly outrageous.

c. The tape of the footage of the event from September 30, 2000 was presented in its entirety in the French court of appeals. Until this date the court’s position concerning this tape had not been heard. Any other statement is simply not correct and is misleading.

5. Our clients regret your choice, as a respected academic institution, to hold a conference on this subject, while the matter is being debated in several forums, in [Israel] and abroad, while presenting a distorted, sometimes false, view, which is not based upon fact but upon unfounded assessments and accusations.

6. Our clients further regret that you chose to conduct this conference in such a demonstrably, one-sided manner, while harming our clients’ reputation.

7. We believe that fairness dictates that no conference should be held on the matter which is being debated in the courts, or at a minimum our clients’ position be obtained beforehand.

8. We regret you chose the way you did.

9. I would be happy to be at your service on any matter at telephone number: 02-561-8677.

Respectfully and cordially yours,
Louise Sportas, Attorney at Law
Aharonson Sher Abulafia Amoday & Co.
Attorneys at Law

CC: Prof. Barry Rubin
Dr. Yariv Ben Eliezer

Note, no copy to me.

I have written the following response, an abbreviated version of which will be circulated along with France2’s response at the talk:

This missive is riddled with errors and misrepresentations. If this letter represents France2 and Charles Enderlin’s notion of “true facts” and “straightening things out,” then we can begin to understand how the al Durah Affair could have played out as it has for the past seven years. Responses grouped by topic:

On the subject of one-sidedness.

France2 has maintained a near-monopoly of Mainstream Media discussion of this matter for the past seven years and done everything it could to block criticism from reaching the larger public. When Enderlin did deal with criticism in a November 2000 news report on IDF General Yom Tov Samia’s investigation which found that the boy and father could not have been hit by the Israeli bullets, he dismissed it from his own podium as an “impartial” journalist, without debate, without representation from the IDF. He presented to France2 viewers only what he saw fit.

Charles Enderlin has, moreover, turned down multiple invitations to share a podium with his critics, most recently in the case of a conference on Journalistic Ethics held at Mishkenot Sha’ananim on December 30, 2007. For a giant mainstream media corporation that has 24-hour access to a public of millions of viewers, to complain that it must be given equal time in discussions it has done its best to marginalize, redefines chutzpah.

On the subject of blocking criticism.

In 2002 France2 blocked the showing of a French version of the German documentary of their sister-station ARD on the al Durah affair by Esther Schapira. Although this documentary did not pursue the hypothesis of staging, it gave ample exposure to Yom Tov Samia’s investigation. Moreover, Enderlin and France2 refuse to give the IDF a copy of the disputed footage so that they can conduct their own investigation. In an interview with Schapira, Enderlin asserted that he would not give the raw footage to the IDF “so that they can whitewash themselves.” At no time has any major French television station, much less France2, allowed the public to hear the case for staging. On the contrary, when they do mention that hypothesis, they ridicule it as “extreme right-wing conspiracy theory.”

On the subject of using the libel courts to intimidate and silence critics.

In the ARD documentary, Enderlin tells Schapira that if anyone accuses Talal, him, or France2 of manipulation or fabrication, it’s reason to go to court. And three of the four accused in France2’s defamation trials did not even go so far as to claim staging. So France2 has defined criticism as a cause for litigation and this very letter illustrates how they want to use the existence of their litigation to prevent alternative positions from reaching the public whose perceptions they have fundamentally shaped.Using the law to “prevent [others] from hurting [France2’s] reputation,” and using the law to intimidate criticism are two different aspects of the same maneuver. It is disingenuous to say the least to pretend they mutually exclusive, and to wax indignant about the “outrageous” allegation that France2 is doing the latter. In any case, the honest way to protect one’s reputation is to answer the criticisms, not attack them as defamation.

On the showing of the tapes.

No one contests that Talal’s tape is authentic footage of what happened at Netzarim Junction on September 30, 2000. The real question is, does this “authentic footage” corroborate the claims that Talal abu Rahmeh and Charles Enderlin make about what happened there. Close observation suggests many more contradictions between the evidence of the tapes and the reports of the journalists. There is nothing “off-handed” about the carefully phrased assertion in the invitation to this talk that there is a “strong likelihood that [Talal] staged the whole scene.”

As for showing these tapes in the French Appeals court last November, it seems passing strange that this letter puts the words “was presented in its entirety” in bold underline, since this is precisely what did not happen. The tape of the Talal’s footage of the event was cut by several minutes, something Enderlin admitted in court when he explained why there were only 18 minutes. The passages he cut, he claimed, were “not relevant.” But since I have seen the Talal’s tapes three times, I can testify that he cut scenes from Netzarim Junction that day, and that at least one of the passages cut shows the ludicrous efforts at staging news that the Palestinians on site engaged in all that day and that Talal eagerly filmed.

The “facts” of the case.

There are few firmly established “facts” in this case. Mostly there are assertions – e.g., “eventually Mohamed found his death and his father, Jamal, was badly injured” (above) – whose reliability has been extensively put in question. For example, the claims from Palestinian hospitals about Jamal’s serious injuries have now come under new examination since every injury claimed by the Palestinian sources corresponds to injuries Jamal received from his fellow Palestinians years earlier and for which he was treated in an Israeli hospital. In any case, those who attend the IDC Conference will see and hear a comparison of the “factual” claims made by Talal and Enderlin in this case, compared with the hard evidence (especially evidence from Talal’s own footage). The contrast has every reason to concern France2 in their effort to protect their reputation. They have every reason to be distressed at the public’s exposure to the evidence.

France2’s “Position” on al Durah.

France2 should indeed clarify its “position” in this affair. Do they still stand by Enderlin’s original broadcast in which the al Durah’s are “the target of fire coming from the Israeli position”? Has Talal in fact sent a fax disclaiming his sworn testimony of October 3, 2000? And if so, what has he specifically retracted? Where are the “unbearable” scenes of the boy’s “death throes” that Enderlin claimed he cut?

It’s one of the characteristics of an “emperor’s new clothes” scenario that, as long as the hegemonic discourse can compel people to deny what their own eyes behold, the public discourse remains favorable. But once the word starts to get out, the mask slips, and the spell is broken. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

When all is said and done in this case, Charles Enderlin will rue the day he convinced France2 to sue Philippe Karsenty. Those whom the gods would destroy, first they make arrogant.

David Landau, Oslo Logician, Asks Condi Rice to “Rape” Israel

In today’s Jewish Week, the editor Gary Rosenblatt has a shocking piece on the editor of Ha-Aretz, David Landau’s conversation with Condi Rice last September, in the build-up to Annapolis. Both the message and the language shed a harsh light on the condition of the “anti-occupation” Israeli mindset. The landscape is not pretty.

Haaretz Editor Urged Rice To ‘Rape’ Israel

David Landau: Crude language over the top, or well placed?
by Gary Rosenblatt

Israelis are known for being direct and blunt. But comments made by David Landau, editor of the Israeli daily, Haaretz, to Condoleezza Rice about Israel needing to be “raped” by the U.S. to achieve a Mideast settlement caused quite a stir among the 20 or so attendees at a confidential briefing with the secretary of state on a recent visit to Israel.

The incident, which took place Sept. 10 at the private residence of America’s ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones, has not been fully reported until now. What is contested is not the raw language Landau used but the context of his impassioned comments.

Following Rice’s briefing to the gathered military, academic and media elites at the dinner, the guests offered their views and comments about the Mideast impasse. Landau, who was seated next to Rice, was said to have referred to Israel as a “failed state” politically, one in need of a U.S.-imposed settlement. He was said to have implored Rice to intervene, asserting that the Israeli government wanted “to be raped” and that it would be like a “wet dream” for him to see this happen.

This represents an extreme expression of Oslo Logic: If only Israel would make the right concessions — painful but necessary — it could end the “occupation.” Since the inordinate influence of “right-wing” irredentists who don’t want to give up any territory prevents Israel from making the necessary concessions, it needs to be forced to do so. Then we’ll have… peace?

I’m not even sure that Landau is so naive. I have friends who think that the “occupation” — which I am whitewashing by arguing that the Israelis didn’t shoot Muhammad al Durah — is such a blot on the soul of Israel that it should be ended immediately — including the division of Jerusalem. When I point out that this is likely to lead to even more violent aggression and more devastating forms of warfare, the answer is consistently: “I don’t care. Israel, if it is to be a moral state, cannot endure the corruption of its youth who must do terrible things as a result of occupying, oppressing, and humiliating another people.”

So Landau may be shrewd enough to know that these concessions will not lead to peace, indeed might well lead to war. But on the other hand, he’s almost surely not telling that to Rice, who might think twice about forcing Israel to make concessions that will make the situation worse. Of course, who (not steeped in the intricate pathways of Jewish self-criticism) could begin to understand the toxic moral perfectionism that drives highly intelligent Israelis to take such suicidal stances? She, enamored of her Palestinian “Martin Luther King Jr.,” Abu Mazen, surely thinks this is an exaggerated but well-intentioned effort to achieve peace.

And yet, consider the catastrophic potential of this “self-abnegating” advice. First, the concessions that Landau wants to make are much more likely to whet the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim appetite for destroying Israel than “changing the tide” and heading us all towards a “negotiated solution.” And this is true even if Israel came to that decision all by herself. But if Israel’s foes think that they have now turned the only serious ally Israel has, the USA, against her, then the smell of weakness and failure in their nostrils will arouse even greater hopes of ultimate victory.

The odds that this will lead to war — just as the NIE report increases the likelihood of war — are enormous. And the odds that that war will force the USA into either much more costly engagements in the Middle East, or, even worse, huge losses in this area, make his advice almost as bad for the USA as it is catastrophic for Israel. The collateral damage of his single-minded opposition to the “morally corrupting” occupation is enormous. Right now the Israelis who oppose the occupation worry about the humiliation of thousands and the killing of dozens of Palestinians. When they trigger the wars their postures will invite — quod absit! — they will have an opportunity to weep over the death of millions of Israelis and Palestinians.

When contacted this week, Landau said the description was “inaccurate” and “a perversion of what I said.” He said his views had been delivered with “much more sophistication.”

But he added: “I did say that in general, Israel wants to be raped — I did use that word — by the U.S., and I myself have long felt Israel needed more vigorous U.S. intervention in the affairs of the Middle East.”

Not clear how much more sophisticated his own “general” summary is from the one reported. Indeed his subsequent remarks contradict his opening denial.

Landau, often outspoken in his views, is a bit of an anomaly in Israeli society in that he is a native Brit editing Israel’s oldest newspaper and an observant Jew (and former yeshiva student) with decidedly left-wing views.

This is an interesting detail, and not that anomalous. Some of the most ferocious “left-wing” critics of Israeli policy in Israel and abroad, are observant and learned Jews who are driven to their positions by moral imperatives. The fact that they do not engage in much realism, and show almost no interest in “the other side” (other than to view it, as so many reporters for Ha-Aretz do) as the innocent victim of Israeli misdeeds, has much to do with the “four-dimensional Israeli/two dimensional Palestinian/Arab/Muslim” problem I have discussed before.

The fact that Landau can refer to Israel as a “failed state” because it won’t adopt his policies of massive concessions to an Arab political culture that cannot even — does not apparently even want to — build a Palestinian state no matter how dysfunctional, illustrates the degree of self-referential isolationism that informs this aggressively self-abnegating “left-wing” position. Indeed, if we were to rate the states in the Middle East by how they treat their own people — I believe the standard by which the states Landau wants Israel to be a part of are judged — then we’d find 22 failed Arab/Muslim states well below his own.

He told The Jewish Week that the context of his remarks was that each of the dinner attendees spoke of Israel’s challenges, and when it was his turn he pointed out that since 1967, Israel has failed to resolve its territorial conflicts with the Palestinians.

And in the mind of Landau and others who share his masochistic omnipotence complex, if there’s been a failure, it’s obviously Israel’s. Of course it’s our fault; of course if we had behaved differently (MY way), things would have been better. Of course the Arabs are not nice to us and want to get rid of us… it’s because we haven’t been nicer to them.

“I told [Rice] that it had always been my wet dream to address the secretary of state” on these vital matters, he said.

This, coming from an orthodox Jew to a female Secretary of State, is stunning. It suggests a level of verbal incontinence that makes one wonder about Landau’s mental balance. Even if we ignore the inappropriateness of the imagery, the sentiment behind it — he’s long dreamed of having the opportunity to tell the USA to force Israel into concessions — suggests that Landau, like so many people on the “left” actually have contempt for the democratic process, and since they trust their own political judgment so much more than that of leaders produced by their democratic process, they feel completely justified in using any device to “force” their own polities to “be free.”

Her response, he said, was “fantastic” in that she was “completely unfazed” by his remarks, and remained “urbane and diplomatic.” Attendees said she told the assembled that the U.S. had no intention of imposing a settlement on the Israelis and Palestinians.

She was probably so embarrassed that she didn’t know what to do.

Isi Leibler, a weekly columnist for The Jerusalem Post who has written critically of Landau, said that “by any benchmark, Landau’s behavior as an Israeli citizen would be deemed unacceptable.” He said it was “unconscionable” for someone in Landau’s position to urge a U.S. Secretary of State “to ‘rape’ his own government.”

Note that Landau’s position is as editor of the “NYT of Israel,” the most widely read Israeli newspaper outside of Israel. As one of my students noted when I presented the Al Durah case and she read the coverage Ha-Aretz gave to it, “I thought Ha-Aretz was an Israeli paper. Why does it sound like a Palestinian one?” Landau was not editor at the time, but he has hardly made things better. On the contrary, he made some remarks in Moscow that reveal an astonishing degree of open advocacy involved in what he, as editor, allows his newspaper to publish.

I agree here with Liebler (whose comments on the affair can be read here). Landau, based on his own peculiarly hyper-self-critical logic, has called on the USA to take Israel’s foreign policy into recievership. He didn’t do this because in his mind the USA is the wisest of nations — unless he’s a Jewish “racist” and holds a radicaly different standard for the non-Jews, he must think the occupation of Iraq is a catastrophic venture — but because it’s the strongest, and can “do the job.” In other words, he goes by the logic that destroyed democratic Greece: “those who can do what they will, those who cannot suffer what they must.”

In a sense, he represents a contorted, modern, activist version of prophetic logic. Back in the old days, the prophets saw the behavior of empires who smashed Israel as delivering the punishment of the Lord. They showed minimal interest in the moral behavior of the nations, whose imperialist ambitions they took for granted and only fore-saw a change among the nations in messianic times: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares…”. In the unredeemed present, however, the prophets focused only on the role the Israelites who, by their immorality, had brought this plague upon themselves. That position lies at the heart of masochistic omnipotence syndrome: “we are the omnipotent God’s chosen people. If terrible things happen to us from merciless gentile armies driven by the basest of imperialist drives for dominion, then it’s our fault for having offended our God and provoked him to remove his protection.” As Max Weber points out, this remarkable and unique form of self-criticism contributed crucially to the eventual emergence of Western civilization.

But in the modern world, where even many people who believe in God don’t expect his direct intervention in history — especially after the Holocaust — the situation is radically different. Among other things, in principle, the other nations have renounced their imperialist drives, and we expect from all “players” in the world of democracies and civil societies, a certain measure of moral behavior in political culture that Israelite and Jewish thought had long demanded (and whose failure to maintain, led to the loss of God’s favor). It’s not accidental that the UN’s “peace square” has the messianic passage from Isaiah as it’s motto. In our day and age, imperialism is officially “not good.”

So today, with God non-interventionist, and people more morally responsible, there is considerably less need for the kind of hyper-self-criticism that marked the invective of the prophets. Now, the discourse of criticism and self-criticism should be a matter of negotiation between mature political cultures in conflict that resolves problems. Jewish self-criticism in principle in a civic world should not need to overcompensate by turning up its own perfectionism in response to a pervasive failure to self-criticize on the other side of the conflict. And yet, here we have newspaper editor David Landau, having wet dreams about telling the greatest power on earth to rape his own people because they are not living up to his prophetic standards. Not only is he playing the role of the God who he apparently does not expect to intervene, but with a particularly crude and heavy hand.

Ehud Yaari, a leading broadcast and print journalist in Israel who reported the incident on the air but did not mention Landau by name, called it “embarrassing.”

But Landau said he had no regrets and that, on the contrary, he was pleased, adding that he was later congratulated by several professors in the room who felt “I articulated what many Israelis feel.”

I wonder who these “professors” are. Can one find them chronicled here?

Rioting in Paris Suburbs

In an interview with a French journalist last week I made the point that the French police live in constant fear of a French “al Durah” — with a “youth” killed by the police, even as a mistake, they can end up not just with rioting, but with suicide bombing. That’s why when the rioting happens, the police are extremely reluctant to suppress the violence. The first part of that prediction just came true in Paris where two boys died when their moped smashed into a police car and it led to immediate rioting. Note that the police are nowhere to be seen.

Boys’ moped deaths ignite riot in Paris suburb
By Peter Allen in Paris
Last Updated: 1:44am GMT 26/11/2007

rioting in villiers
Rioting in Villiers-le-Bel (from Le Monde)

Rioting broke in one of Paris’s tinder box suburban housing estates last night after two young boys were killed when their moped collided with a police car.

Molotov cocktails were thrown, and cars and plastic bins set on fire following the tragedy in Tolinette, a notoriously crime-ridden district of Villiers-le-Bel, some 20 miles north of the centre of the French capital.

One police station was set alight and another, in a neighbouring suburb, was ransacked after youths threw cocktails, and set bins alight and upturned cars.

Officials said seven police and one firefighter had were injured and there were fears the violence, which spread to the neighbouring town of Arnouville-les-Gonesse, could also take hold in other poor, suburban enclaves.

The boys who died were said by locals to be “aged between 12 and 13”.

In other words, the age of Muhammad al Durah. Except that they’re 15 and 16. One of their uncles, speaks of his nephew as 15 in an interview with Le Parisien as reported by Nidra Poller

    Interviewed by Le Parisien, the uncle of Moushin Souhhali, one of the victims, says he understands the rage; it’s terrible to lose a 15 year-old boy. His body, claims the uncle, was dumped at the fire station with no respect. The police who, in his opinion, caused the accident were nowhere to be seen. He heard they were speeding. His nephew was a good boy, not a delinquent.

Police insisted that their car had not been chasing the boys, and that the officer driving suffered facial injuries in the incident, which happened soon after dusk.

But the violence had grim echoes of the disturbances which followed the electrocution of two youths in a sub-station as they fled police in the nearby suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois in late 2005. It directly led to two months of serious rioting across France, with a state of emergency being declared.

After last night’s deaths, residents in Tolinette said cars were being burnt out, with police fleeing the scene.

Police fleeing the scene. No wonder they’re called “the lost territories of the Republic.”

One local, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Around 100 rioters have burn at least two cars, but the forces of law and order are nowhere to be seen.

“There were four police cars here, but they’ve retreated. They were charged by the rioters. Some rioters are climbing up to electric cables to try and break them and put the whole district into darkness.

“The kids who died were only aged between 12 and 13. We’re all trying to get the rioters to calm down, but it’s hard when you’re dealing with the deaths of a couple of kids, and when the police are involved.”

Rumors have the power of “reality.” It turns out the teenagers were not wearing helmets (the “mini-motocross” they were riding was “astonishingly intact“). So we have a typical, almost banal tale of two imprudent youths, turned into an excuse to riot.

A police spokesman later confirmed the boys’ deaths, saying that next of kin would be informed before they could be named.

He confirmed that, as well as the police driver, a superintendent had been badly injured as he tried to put out fires started by youths in rubbish bins.

The officer also confirmed that Molotov cocktails – makeshift bombs made of bottles, petrol and an old rag for a fuse – had also been used.

“The situation is extremely tense – we are trying to contain the trouble,” the spokesman added.

The trouble in 2005 was largely blamed on immigrant youths living in suburban housing projects who complained about discrimination and lack of employment opportunities.

Nicolas Sarkozy, who is now president, built up a ruthless reputation as Interior Minister for using tough policing and longer prison sentences to crack down on the trouble.

The Hits Keep Coming: Shurat HaDin and the Israeli GPO Go after Enderlin and France2

It couldn’t happen to nicer people. A legal organization dedicated to suing terrorists on behalf of their victims and victims’ families has formally requested the Israel’s Government Press Office revoke France2’s press credentials for its coverage of the Al Durah Affair. The head of the Press Office, Daniel Seaman has written a formal letter acknowledging their request and confirming that (in his official opinion) the footage was staged.

Seaman, whose personal experiences during the Intifada are described in Stephanie Gutmann’s The Other War (Chapter 10: His Own Private Jihad), has long been of the opinion that the footage was staged, as one can see here in an interview filmed during last year’s Herzliya conference on the Media as Theater of War by InfoLiveTV.

Seaman, Karsenty, Gissin
At the Herzliya Conference, from left to right, Daniel Seaman (Director, IGPO), Philippe Karsenty (Media Ratings), Raanan Gissin (former Spokesman for the Prime Minister).

The following is from an email circulated by Shurat HaDin for which I still find no link. The story has been picked up by many news services including AP and Ynet.

Israeli Government Officially Confirms Al-Dura Footage was Staged Blood Libel Against IDF

Shurat HaDin to Petition High Court to Strip France2 Press Credentials

In response to a warning letter sent by Shurat HaDin to the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) more than 9 months ago, GPO Director Danny Seaman has written a formal acknowledgment that FRANCE 2 Television staged the infamous news footage depicting a Palestinian child being shot to death by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in September 2000.

This is the first time in the seven years since the footage broadcast that the Prime Minister’s Office has confirmed that a journalistic fraud had been perpetrated against the IDF by government owned FRANCE 2 television.

I’m not sure I’d call this a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. Granted that the GPO operates out of the Prime Minister’s Office, but that doesn’t mean that this is an official statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Shurat HaDin had written Seaman contending that mounting evidence proved that cameramen and news editors from FRANCE 2 had deliberately staged and then misleadingly edited the footage aired by the French government television on in September 2000. The emotional footage, repeatedly broadcast around the world on CNN and other cable stations, ignited anti-Israeli violence in the Palestinian Authority and Israeli Arab communities and spurred international condemnation of the IDF.

The Palestinian youth Muhammad al-Dura, allegedly seen being killed in the video footage, became the poster child in the Arab world for the current intifada violence and fueled hundreds of terror attacks against Israeli citizens and Jewish communities worldwide. Thousands of Jews and Arabs have been killed in the ensuing violence following the broadcast.

The Shurat HaDin letter demanded that, in light of the fraudulent broadcast and the grievous harm that it unleashed against Israel as well as the massive numbers of victims attributable to the fake footage, Seaman must strip FRANCE 2 of its press credentials.

Although Seaman stopped short of agreeing to remove FRANCE 2’s accreditations his response letter to Shurat HaDin confirms that the Prime Minister’s Office firmly believes that the footage was deliberately staged to misrepresent that the IDF killed al-Dura when in fact a forensic investigation has concluded that Israel could not possibly have been responsible. As Seaman writes:

    Without any deep and serious investigation, the global media convicted the State of Israel in the murder of a little boy, and his image remained tattooed and engraved in the collective Arab memory as a symbol for the cruelty of the Zionist nation. These allegations started a long road that leaded to exposing the truth and basing the fact that Talal Abu Rahma, the network’s Palestinian cameraman, engaged in the systematic staging of action scenes . . . This libel incited the Arab world and caused many victims in and outside of Israel.”

Seaman’s letter then states that despite this confirmed journalistic libel the GPO will not seek to have FRANCE 2’s credentials revoked.

It is the intention now of Shurat HaDin to file a petition in the High Court of Justice against the GPO and FRANCE 2 compelling the government to remove FRANCE 2 credentials and prohibit them from manufacturing further anti-Israel propaganda pieces.

This is great. Since Enderlin and France2 operate by the rules of honor and shame culture, there’s nothing more appropriate than having them shamed by being the first (of hopefully a longer list of malefactors) who are denied privileges by the notoriously accommodating Israelis who, no matter how hostile and unethical the MSM is, still let them come in and do their damage. Note please, I am not arguing that Israel should play the same game as the Palestinians — denying access to anyone who won’t tell it their way — but that they play a professional version of the game: denying access to those who break the basic rules of professional journalism. And as Clément Weill Raynal reminds us, that’s a lot of people.

According to Shurat HaDin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner:

    This modern-day blood libel directly resulted in hundreds of Jewish and Arab deaths and ignited a still-flaming torch of international hatred, only for the sake of raising FRANCE 2’s ratings. This was perhaps the greatest journalistic hoax perpetrated in the last hundred years. We demand that those who are responsible for this crime will bare the consequences of their actions. The State of Israel cannot simply allow FRANCE 2 to remain in this country.

Moreover, activist Philippe Karsenty has led a long battle inside of Frcnce against FRANCE 2 seeking to determine whether the Al-Dura footage had been staged. Last week in an historic victory for Philippe Karsenty, a French Court hearing an appeal of his case centering on the Al-Dura allegations ordered that all of the raw video footage shot by the camera crew be released to determine if a deliberate news hoax had been perpetrated.

This gets better all the time. Once the dike springs leaks, the flood is not far behind.

Sign the Petition: France2: Release the Secret Tapes!

Please sign the petition and send it to everyone. Philippe Karsenty’s appeal trial is coming up and this petition is part of an effort to pressure France2 and the Justice system.

To Patrick de Carolis, France2 Television

France2: Release the Secret Muhammad al Durah Tapes!

People around the world who depend on the media for reliability, accuracy, and transparency in reporting, demand that France2 release the unedited video tapes (“rushes”) that its Palestinian cameraman, Talal abu Rahmah, sent them on September 30 and October 1, 2000 from Gaza.

On September 30, 2000, your Middle East correspondent Charles Enderlin, broadcast a story about Muhammad al-Durah, a 12-year old Palestinian boy. Using the footage and the testimony from his cameraman, Talal abu Rahmah, Enderlin reported that Israeli soldiers had targeted and killed the boy. That allegation of deliberate murder spread instantaneously around the world.

Extensive doubts have emerged about almost every claim of this explosive report, and they raise serious questions about both the journalistic integrity of the cameraman and the professional judgment of his employer, your correspondent Charles Enderlin.

As a result, the raw footage France2 received from Talal abu Rahmah represent key evidence in this crucial case.

But instead of releasing the tapes, your institution has responded to criticism of your correspondent’s broadcast by suing French citizens for defamation and keeping the tapes secret for nearly seven years now.

If France2 reports the news responsibly and uses reliable cameramen, you have nothing to hide. Show the tapes and let the public judge.

Whatever political or religious beliefs we hold, whatever we now think about what happened on September 30, 2000, we, the undersigned, believe that all the victims and all of their loved ones – on both sides of the terrible war for which Muhammad al-Durah’s image served as the icon – deserve that this evidence at last be shown.

We, the undersigned, respectfully, but firmly, request that France2 release all the tapes for September 30 and October 1, 2000 for public inspection immediately.


Please sign the petition and send it to everyone.

Hamas Freed Johnston

Expect Western media — BBC in the lead — to write fawning pieces on Hamas’ dedication to protecting the press and their ability to “get the job done.”

Sources: Gaza BBC reporter freed
British journalist held hostage in Gaza reportedly freed. Witness says Johnston ‘looks fine and well’
Latest Update: 07.04.07, 04:11 / Israel News

Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist held hostage in the Gaza Strip since March, was handed over by his Islamist captors to ruling Hamas officials on Wednesday, Palestinian sources close to negotiations for his release said.

The sources told Reuters they saw the 45-year-old Briton being taken into the care of officials from the Hamas movement, which seized full control of Gaza three weeks ago.

“He is sitting with his colleagues from the BBC office in Gaza,” one of the witnesses said. “He is talking to them and he looks fine and well.”

In London, no immediate comment was available from the BBC or the British Foreign Office.

One source involved in the effort to free Johnston said the journalist may join Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh for a news conference before being taken to British diplomats for a journey home that would involve him leaving the Gaza Strip for Israel.

Johnston, the only Western correspondent working full-time in the troubled coastal enclave, went missing on March 12 when his car was found abandoned.

His captors later declared themselves to be the Army of Islam, an al-Qaeda-inspired group with links to one of Gaza’s powerful clans.

They issued Web videos showing Johnston and seeking the release of Islamists held prisoner by Britain and other states. Most recently, after Hamas officials threatened to free him by force from the clan’s stronghold, Johnston was shown wearing a suicide belt with the warning he would die if that happened.