The Al-Durah hoax is the incident in which the Palestinians claimed that Mohammed al-Durah was killed – deliberately – by the IDF in 2000. I would recommend having a look at The Al Durah Project which has been following the lies, libels and court cases almost from the beginning. (Here is their facebook page, and here is their Twitter account).
The incident ignited the deadly Second Intifada and Mohammed al-Durah became an icon of Palestinian victimhood. A French media analyst, Philippe Karsenty, has analysed the videos and conducted many interviews over the years and came to the conclusion that Charles Enderlin of France 2 TV station staged the event. For a long time he was a lone voice in the wilderness, backed up by Richard Landes of The Second Draft and The Augean Stables.
Despite a few early wins, and Israel weighing in only 13 years too late in order to officially refute the lies which comprise the hoax, the French supreme court has quite incredibly (or not, depending on your views of the French) found Philippe Karsenty guilty of defamation for his claims against Enderlin and France 2.
A French media analyst was convicted Wednesday of defamation for accusing a state television network of staging a video that depicted a young boy being killed in a firefight between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers.
The footage more than a decade ago galvanized Palestinians and anti-Israeli sentiment in the Mideast at the start of the bloody Second Intifada.
A Paris court fined Philippe Karsenty 7,000 euros (NIS 33,000) in the defamation case filed by network France 2. Karsenty accused the network’s Jerusalem bureau chief, Charles Enderlin, of fabricating parts of the segment.
Karsenty called the verdict “outrageous.” A lawyer for France 2 said it was a victory for journalists.
Karsenty was convicted of libel in 2006, a judgment that was overturned on appeal in 2008. France 2 subsequently appealed that appeal at the “Cour de cassation,” France’s highest court. Last year, the Cour de cassation annulled the ruling acquitting Karsenty of libel in 2008.
Over the past decade Karsenty has amassed hours of video about the day of the shooting. At the heart of his claim is the fact that, according to the reporting by France 2, father and son received a total of 15 high-velocity bullets but in the video, neither appears to be bleeding. He says the firefight is real, but the shooting of the man and boy was staged for the camera.
“I am serene because I know the truth will come out,” Karsenty said. “Despite 15 bullets not one drop of blood was on their clothes, their bodies, the wall they were leaning against.”
Benedicte Amblard, a lawyer for France-2, said the verdict would allow journalists to retain confidence in their work.
That’s as maybe but it certainly doesn’t allow the public to retain their confidence in journalists’ work.
Enderlin, the France 2 Jerusalem correspondent, said he and France 2 parent company France Televisions welcomed Wednesday’s decision.
“Today’s result is a relief,” he said, but added it did not put the matter to rest. Enderlin, a French-Israeli national, said conspiracy theorists continue to hound them over the incident. He said despite years of litigation and Israeli officials accusing him of fabrication, he welcomed an investigation.
“We are ready whenever Israel wants to go for a professional investigation following international standards,” he told The Associated Press.
What a disgusting little man he is. He implies that Israel has never carried out any sort of investigation, and even when Israel finally produces its own investigation – admittedly after 13 years – he appears to claim that it doesn’t follow international standards. Israel should sue him for slander too, and see how he feels about that. After all what’s sauce for the goose…
Professor Richard Landes, a Boston University Historian who runs The al-Dura Project, said the decision was “bad news” for free speech and democracy.
“This is a victory of a state owned press using its immense financial and political resources to bully independent critics,” Landes told The Times of Israel. “In principle, this is bad news for freedom of speech… Given the terrible damage that al-Durah did — a poster-boy for the linked phenomena of virulent anti-Semitism and global Jihad — this decision is nothing short of suicidal for a Western democracy.”
In an interview with the Algemeiner, Philippe Karsenty said:
“I am very disappointed because I thought that there was a chance that the justice system would find me not guilty of defamation,” he said. “I don’t have the verdict, the written verdict, the argument of the judges, but the verdict was postponed twice so they only found me guilty on the third time,” he said, implying that there is more at play in the case than meets the eye.
“I think it is a dark day for French democracy and I think it is a dark day for the truth,” Karsenty declared of the verdict, adding optimistically, “and the truth will prevail in the end, I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but I know that it will prevail.”
Karsenty sharply criticized the French justice system and those that participated in what he calls the “covering up” of a “blood libel.”
“I see that some people on the other side are very happy because they are saying it is a day of honor for journalism. It is a day of shame for journalism, and I think it is a day of shame for French democracy which is covering up from the bottom, to each and every level a blood libel,” he said.
“All the journalists aligned behind Enderlin,” he said of Charles Enderlin, the France 2 Jerusalem bureau chief, whom he accused of fabricating parts of the segment, “Sarkozy granted him the Legion of Honor.”
Karsenty came across as disappointed but also hopeful, and said that his work on the case was not over.
“I don’t see where the light comes from,” he continued “but if I would say something I would say ‘gam zu letovah’ (also this is for the best.)”
“I will try and expose this lie of course,” he promised, adding “the thing is I am not sure which way I want to expose it, but I want to expose it of course.”
Asked about his current legal options following the court decision Karsenty mulled: “I can do exactly as France 2 did, go to the French supreme court. But I am not sure that I want to go there firstly because I think that the French judicial system is not fair.”
“Last time I won this case, and even after I won this case the court of appeals didn’t admit the truth, so the judicial way is not the way to have the truth revealed, but was only a tool to force France 2 to bring their argumentation,” he said.
“But it was not useful in getting them to admit the truth,” he concluded.
Karsenty was convicted of libel in 2006, but the judgment was overturned on appeal in 2008. France 2 appealed that appeal at the “Cour de cassation,” France’s highest court, and last year the court annulled the 2008 acquittal.
“I saw that France 2 said that they would be willing to work with any investigation committee. Let’s see what they are talking about, if they are really willing to fight for their good name and fight for the truth,” he challenged, further considering his options.
Speaking about the feedback he has been receiving since the verdict, Karsenty says he has received a lot of support.
“Everybody is very upset, because everybody who has seen the evidence knows it is a hoax,” he shared. “So when you see that the French judicial system is covering it up and even fining me, it is a disgrace.”
The outrage that I feel is practically physical. The injustice against both Karsenty and against the IDF and the State of Israel is enough to make one scream.
The final word goes to Richard Landes at the Al Durah facebook page:
Prof. Richard Landes, responding to today’s French court decision in the France2 defamation case, said this on behalf of the Al Durah Project:
It took them eight years, but France2 and its very substantial budget has finally silenced its fiercely outspoken critic, a one-man band by the name of Phillipe Karsenty.
The French courts today determined that Karsenty must be sanctioned under French criminal law for demanding, in 2004, that France2′s management should pay the price for claiming – against clear evidence to the contrary – that a Palestinian Arab boy was killed by Israeli sharpshooters allegedly firing at him for 45 minutes from point blank range.
France2 pursued Karsenty up and down the French legal system before achieving today’s decision. The courts did not determine whether the boy, Muhammad Al Durah, died or that the IDF killed him. It found that under French defamation law, Karsenty did the wrong thing by demanding France2′s management own up to the disgraceful way they packaged and marketed their version of what happened at a dusty Gaza road junction 13 years ago.
The decision, and what came before it, will serve future generations as a case study of the disorientation of Western elites and institutions – the press and the courts in this case – and their abandonment of fundamental principles of a free society. Where are all those advocates of free speech, and what has become of their objections to a court decision that punishes a citizen for criticizing his society’s journalists?
Although Karsenty’s fine is not very high, especially by Western standards, a friend of mine has approached Prof. Landes asking whether a fund could be set up for people to make contributions to help Karsenty pay the fine. This would be as much a moral as a financial boost to Philippe Karsenty and an acknowledgement of his enormous courage. If anyone knows about such a fund please let me know by email or in the comments.