Author: Richard Landes

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Pallywood FAQ

The sources themselves. Go to the pages where we have posted the raw footage from three Palestinian cameramen, working for major Western news agencies at Netzarim Junction on Sept. 30, 2000, and judge for yourself if what you see filmed represents real or staged “events.” Only then should you investigate further and read the opinion of others…

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Prognosis for Civil Society in France

From PJMedia: Al-Dura Verdict: What Prognosis for Civil Society in France?

At 3:00 p.m. on September 30, 2000, everything turned upside down at Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip. France2 cameraman Talal abu Rahma — after a day of filming spontaneously staged scenes of Palestinian injury and ambulance evacuation — deliberately participated in staging footage of a boy being murdered by Israeli troops while his defenseless father tried vainly to protect him. Curiously, despite the claim that the boy’s ordeal continued for an hour, Talal only managed to film a (very unfocused) minute — itself chopped up into six “takes” of about ten seconds each. Several hours later, France2 Middle East correspondent Charles Enderlin went live with five of the “takes,” presenting them as a live capture of the Israelis “targeting” the two and killing the son in a hail of bullets. The footage, packaged as an accusation of deliberately killing the boy “in cold blood” and “in his father’s lap,” circumnavigated the globe instantaneously, deeply touching those who saw it and raising outraged voices everywhere against supposed Israeli cruelty…

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Islamism is winning the cognitive war

Daily Telegraph: Islamism is winning the cognitive war – thanks to manipulative and gullible journalists

The image the world didn’t see: Enderlin, having already declared the boy dead, cut this final sequence from his broadcast.
Anyone who remembers the halcyon dreams of the 1990s, of civil society spreading the world over, heralding a new peaceful, global millennium, must marvel at the path the young 21st century has taken. Even those who paid attention to global Jihad before the millennium could not imagine how vulnerable the West would prove in the coming, wildly asymmetrical war. Those who, over the course of the last 13 years, have awakened to the ever-growing danger of Islamism and to the astonishing inability of decent people – Muslims and non-Muslims – to effectively oppose its aggressions, owe themselves a brief lesson in cognitive warfare, and a second look at the nuclear bomb of that warfare, the Muhammad al Durah affair. All asymmetrical wars take place primarily in the cognitive arena, with the major theater of war the enemy’s public sphere…

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Court Delays Decision in Karsenty-Enderlin Case

In what seems to be an interesting act of hesitation, the French court has delayed its decision on the Enderlin-Karsenty trial until May 22. For those arguing a politicized court which would naturally side with state-owned and politically-correct France2, this needs explanation. A kangaroo court does not hesitate. If it hesitates, it’s because the evidence is so “badly” in Karsenty’s favor that the judges hesitate to defy it. Whether for fear of contradiction, or some (significant but not decisive) remaining elements of intellectual integrity, this is good news.

The fact that they remain uncommitted, rather than deciding for Karsenty’s obvious right to criticize a journalist, however, means the weight of public honor (Charles’, France2′s, the Palestinians’) remains crucial to their calculations.

More to follow.

Mohammed al-Durah

Karsenty vs. Enderlin: Baker vs. rekaB Street in action

Yesterday was the sixth hearing in the saga of France 2 and Charles Enderlin suing Philippe Karsenty for defamation in the French courts. In some senses it was something of an anti-climax. In others it was an amazing example of the clash between Baker and rekaB Streets. Indeed, the Société des journalistes (SNJ) and SNJ de France Télévisions both called on members to show their support for Enderlin, who was valiantly defending himself against Karsenty’s legal aggression, when in fact it is Enderlin and France2 who are using the courts to bully Karsenty into silence. Shades of Tuvia Grossman: we know who the aggressor must be, so we’re rallying around our wounded David, even when he’s a embarrassingly dim Goliath.

Karsenty went in loaded for bear, with a mock-up reconstruction of the site at Netzarim, and an extensive PPP full of videos. He went through all the evidence, starting with an very nice series of illustrations using the rushes to show how France2/Enderlin consistently use clearly staged footage as “news.” He then went through the entire dossier concerning the actual al Durah footage. At times it seemeda bit too exhaustive, and the judges seemed irritated by the PPP, but the arguments were excellent, and reflected a forensic mind that engages in identifying clues, and deriving conclusions from an analysis of the evidence.

Enderlin, on the other hand, seemed either completely out of his depth, or just supremely unconcerned. He did nothing but repeat things he’s said (and written) a thousand times, and when it was France2’s chance to respond to Karsenty, he sat passively while his lawyer showed five clips, four of which were just unedited replays of France2 news broadcasts on the matter (including totally irrelevant news about the tunnel under Mont Blanc and the Olympics in Sydney). It was as if they believed that in merely restating themselves, they proved themselves right. After Karsenty’s presentation, however, it was a stunning display of rekaB Street: the very scenes he had deconstructed as fakes, they were again playing as real. Even the judges seemed amused. The grand finale was Jamal al Durah showing his wounds just after Karsenty had showed that the wounds were not from the event (later confirmed by the medical forensic expert).

Enderlin seemed completely alone. He and his lawyer, Maitre Amblard, chic and shallow as ever, were alone at the dock (not even Guillaume Clement-Weill), no one from France2, whose new CEO was questioned about the al Durah affair by a senator at the time of his confirmation, and has, apparently decided to let Enderlin carry this one alone. Indeed, when France2’s “side” tried to show the videos, there was a technical fiasco which took 20 minutes to resolve (Karsenty even offered to show the footage they were having trouble with), trying the patience of the judges, before then trying their intelligence with meaningless material. Even Enderlin, in a passing glimmer of intelligence, seemed bored with his own side’s argument.

For those of us familiar with the material, it seemed like a rout. I even had a momentary flash of sympathy for how pathetic Enderlin was. In any serious court of informed and intelligent judgment, this was a romp: Karsenty sliced France2 to pieces, and France2 responded by putting the severed pieces back up on the screen as if they were whole.

But that means nothing in terms of the verdict. For the first time, the “Avocat generale” who speaks for the Parquet was critical of Karsenty, and chided him for his lack of prudence in criticizing Enderlin, emphasizing that the court was not here to decide the historical questions (i.e., what happened), but the question of Karsenty’s good faith (it being uncontested that his criticism of Enderlin was defamation of his honor). Given how – at least in the words of some major figures in the Jewish community – French justice is “politicized,” how much the whole establishment – media, politicians, judges – is locked up (verouillé), it’s perfectly possible that on April 3, the judges will decide in favor of the plaintiff, France2.

But that would just mean that one more court has planted its flag firmly on rekaB Street, and that the victims, in addition to Karsenty, will be the fabric of civil society in France, where citizens cannot criticize a rogue press lest it harm their unearned reputation.

The event was live-blogged by JSS, and discussed in L’Orient le Jour.

Take 3

Al Durah and the Tragic Legacy of Lethal Journalism

The following was published on Jan. 15 at Times of Israel

The French have a saying for the idea of a public secret, un secret de Polichinelle dans le tirroir – a humiliating fact still hidden in the drawer that will eventually come out, like an unwanted pregnancy. And France has one of those secrets, but rather than a life, this particular one gives birth to hatred, vengeance, and death. The drawer rattled recently when Mohamed Merah, native-born of Algerian parents, killed seven people, including three Jewish children in cold blood (he filmed himself), to avenge the way “the same Jews” kill his “Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine.” And many in the French Muslim community considered him a hero, imitating rather than drawing back in horror from his violence. The prognosis for a civil society with such an “enmity movement” in its midst is not encouraging.

And the secret in the drawer is the colossal failure of the French media in the case of Muhammad al-Dura from its original occurrence in 2000 to this very day. Al-Dura was the 12-year old boy whose alleged death from Israeli bullets in his father’s arms shocked the world and became the emblem of the Oslo Intifada, an image, it turns out, as false as it was powerful. So, for many good reasons, the French, indeed every civic-minded citizen of the global community, should pay attention to what is happening today in France’s Court of Appeals in Paris.

For the sixth time in as many years, the courts will hear accusations by France2 against citizen Philippe Karsenty for accusing them of having run “staged” footage as news in the case of Muhammad al-Dura. To his devotees, “le petit Mohamed,” as he’s known in France, is “martyr of the world” because, thanks to France2, “the whole world saw” him shot dead, the “target of fire from the Israeli position,” dying in his father’s arms. Except that no one saw him die on film, much less in his father’s arms. On the contrary the overwhelming evidence suggests that it was a scene staged by France2’s cameraman, Talal abu Rahmah, which Charles “Scoop” Enderlin, unknowingly or not, turned into sensational news.

Image from IBA TV

Indeed, few stories better embody the lethal secret de Polichinelle that haunts France today. France2 (and everyone else, as Enderlin is quick to point out), runs staged footage – Pallywood – all the time: it’s a public secret that they openly admit in private but deny in public. “They do it all the time,” Enderlin and his bosses confided privately when confronted with the extensive evidence of staging in his cameraman’s work. But publicly Enderlin insists, especially when confronted with claims that he staged the al-Dura footage, “I have 100 percent confidence in my cameraman, so much that I wouldn’t even think of questioning him.” And yet, when the judges in the last trial saw the footage shot by the key “witness,” France2’s Palestinian cameraman, they dramatically reversed the lower court’s finding, with harsh criticism of Enderlin’s journalistic standards. “And to think I asked for that footage as a favor to France2,” one of the judges later remarked off the record.

Rather than provoke an “aha” moment among the broader profession, however, this decision inspired Enderlin’s colleagues to close ranks. The prestigious Nouvel Obs sponsored a petition in defense of both his honor, and of journalistic right to report freely, without the “chilling” criticism of lay citizens “sapping the energies of good journalists.” The reactions combined medieval honor-driven guild solidarities with medieval credulity: “I don’t care if it’s the Virgin Birth affair, I would tend to believe him. Someone like Charles [Enderlin] simply doesn’t make a story up.”

Meanwhile Charles’ employer, the state-owned media giant France2, appealed to the highest court, which, despite a strong opinion against from the “Parquet,” (which vigorously defended the value to civil society of allowing such criticisms), ruled that the appeals court had no right to demand the footage, nullified their opinion, and sent the case back to appeals court where it arrives today, same room, same “Palace of Justice” in Paris.

The story of Muhammad al-Dura and the lethal journalism it has spawned deserve the close attention of anyone who cares about press freedom and the democratic culture it serves and preserves. No single incident better illustrates why the West has so far fared so poorly in its encounter with the forces of global Jihad in the new millennium, why Western progressives have consistently lost ground to some of the most repressive forces on the planet.

The affair combines three traits in a deeply toxic stew: the absurdity of the narrative in the face of the evidence (Sherlock would not give it a second glance); the way in which some fashioned that narrative into weapons in a Jihad of vengeance against the Jews (Bin Laden and other recruiters for global Jihad); and the determined refusal of journalists, whose profession is to investigate, to re-examine the matter despite the extensive damage it occasioned. The result has been more than a decade in which credulous journalists have pumped poisonous lethal narratives about Israel into Western information systems as news, feeding the worst instincts of a radicalized minority, and crippling the ability of more sober people to understand the situation, much less resist what Bin Laden called, “the strong horse” of global Jihad.

Karsenty accused Enderlin of “being duped and in so doing duping us,” and that, claims Enderlin, is an intolerable and unacceptable blow to his honor. (He’s right about all but the “unacceptable.”) The accusation can be extended to the mainstream news media: they are duped by Jihadi cognitive warriors who manipulate them with an apparently irresistible supply of lethal narratives about Israeli malfeasance, and in so doing, blind us to the threats around the world to the very decency and humanity towards which modern, enlightened peoples everywhere strive.

In a Dreyfus Affair of global significance, will the French appeals court decide in favor of the right of their citizens to criticize their media professionals, or in favor of what Daniel Dayan has called the “new sacred institution,” the news media, and its right to use the power of the state to save its honor by silencing criticism of its prerogative? Is freedom of the press a privilege or a responsibility? And if it is a responsibility – to us! – dare we stand by silently while some with access use the levers of power to assert it as their privilege?


Reflections on the Enderlin-Karsenty Case in the Al Durah Affair

In response to the previous post, reader Martin J. Malliet wrote the following about the upcoming trial in Paris. Since this trial, scheduled for hearing on January 6, 2013, represents an important mile-marker in the now-over-twelve-year-long festering problem of al Durah and its profoundly noxious impact on the West, it’s important to become aware of the issues. Here below, Martin’s excellent comments with further reflections by me. Further remarks welcome. “The accusation of ‘bad journalism’ (misrepresenting the facts of the IDF’s responsibility) against France2/Enderlin should have been brought to the court by the IDF themselves. Or otherwise by somebody who could claim to have been unlawfully harmed by the bad journalism, such as an Israeli citizen being harmed by the false depiction of a government that is representing him…”

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