Philippe Karsenty will tell you that he is not a hero but indeed he is. Mr. Karsenty stood up to France’s State owned TV, the President of France, the courts and the Israeli Ambassador to France, to accuse France 2 and their news organization of slandering Israel in the case of Muhammad Jamal al-Dura.
The Al Dura case, those 59 seconds of video tape (out of the full half hour of tape) became the rallying cry of the second intifada, and as a result it was the cause of so much death in Israel and Arab lands—yet it was a hoax . France 2 SUED Karsenty– because he was the only one to stand up against the lies. Until recently even the Israel government abandoned him. But today a French Court ruled in favor of Karsenty and the truth.
“Standing Up for the Truth Should Not Make You a Hero”
By Phyllis Chesler
Philippe Karsenty is tall, handsome, charming–and very determined; un homme, tres serieux (a very serious gentleman).
Karsenty, a 41 year-old former stockbroker, media analyst, and founder of Media-Ratings, came to America on a lecture and media tour shortly after his interim victory in a Paris courtroom in the matter of the Al Dura Hoax. The state owned TV channel, France 2, sued him for defamation when Karsenty insisted that their airing of a brief (55-59 second) portion of the (27 minutes of raw footage) constituted a Blood Libel. The staged event took place on September 30, 2000 at the Netzarim Junction and became the Face that launched far more than a thousand Islamist riots, anti-Israeli petitions, and successful and intercepted Palestinian suicide bombings.
This past September, almost seven years later, a Paris judge finally ordered that France 2 turn over the film to the court by November 14th. The trial itself is set for February 27th of 2008.
Karsenty recently visited me one afternoon and he returned two days later to speak at a gathering to honor him at my home. Among those whom I invited were a direct descendent of Captain Alfred Dreyfus (my friend and neighbor, Gilles Dreyfus) and yes, I took a photo of us all. After all, the Al Dura case exemplifies how powerful a single photo can be.
In my opinion, Karsenty is a hero who would not allow me to introduce him as one. Karsenty interrupted me each time he thought I was about to do so. He said that he is “just doing the right thing and standing up for the truth” –the implication being that anyone can do so.
He is right, but only a handful of people do so–or continue to do so once they find themselves on trial and very much alone. Thus, I believe that Karsenty and I are both correct. He IS a hero but mainly because such heroes are scarce; they are forced to “work alone” as they assume their bone-crushing historical burden. Organizations do not support them.
Indeed, organizations sometimes obstruct and sabotage their own heroes. Such collective bodies do not intervene even when it might be in their national or organizational interest to do so. What they do instead is stand down, slander, or showcase the hero in an exploitative way–and then rush to take credit when the hero crosses the finish line at the end of a long, hard race.
Perhaps this is only true of my people, the Jews.
Karsenty is willing to name some names, namely that of Israel’s Ambassador to France, Danny Shek, who not only would not give him a fair hearing but who literally refused to shake his hand at a party. He also names Charles Enderlin, (a Jew, and an Israeli) who is France 2’s bureau chief in Jerusalem and who recorded the voice-over for the Al Dura program. According to the September 10th Jerusalem Post, “Danny Shek enjoys warms relations with Enderlin.”
Karsenty’s comment: “Such treason by an ambassador should have him fired forever from the Israeli foreign ministry.”
Perhaps American Jewish organizations very active in France have other priorities and are willing to sacrifice heroic and symbolic cases like Karsenty’s in order to gain other objectives. Perhaps they utterly fail to understand the importance of the al Dura matter or even want it to be forgotten in order to protect their access to power and photo opportunities or “money shots.” Nevertheless, Karsenty is agonized–outraged–by the decision of some American Jewish organizations who, for the last seven years, chose not to support Karsenty and who continued working with those who actively opposed him.
Karsenty also notes that the IDF was wrong, but not “traitorous,” to quickly apologize for something they could not be sure they had done: Kill the boy, even accidentally. (Of course, Israel is forced into the very crouched, defensive posture vis a vis world opinion as was the child actor who played Mohammed Al-Dura.)
Most often, good people allow evil to triumph merely by doing nothing. Thus, I note that most Israeli intellectuals have remained silent about this case. On October 2nd, 2007, Natan Sharansky, (whom I respect and with whom I have been privileged to work), finally wrote an important piece about this case in the Wall Street Journal. Karsenty said that he “is happy–even thrilled–to have the support of such an important public figure.”
I quietly note two things: First, that Sharansky only came forward after the Parisian judge ordered that the raw footage be turned over to the court; after the IDF finally demanded the raw footage; after the Israeli government proclaimed that now, they believed the event was staged; and after the Israeli Shurat HaDin Law Center announced that it would sue Charles Enderlin and request that the Israeli Government Press Office cancel his Israeli press credentials.
Second, I note that Sharansky’s is the only major Jewish and international voice-of-conscience to have come forward. Elie Weisel has said nothing. Former President Bill Clinton, who publicly mourned the presumed “death” of al Dura has remained silent, as have former Presidents Carter and Bush senior.
Where, indeed, are all the voices against racism and for justice in “Palestine?” If they really cared about Palestinians more than they cared about defaming Jews, wouldn’t they be pleased to learn that a Palestinian child did not die? Wouldn’t they be enraged about the Palestinian fake-a-death-and-fool-the-infidels propaganda industry?
Karsenty names the “treacherous” former French President, Jacques Chirac. “Chirac was more dangerous than any Arab dictator because during his entire career, he provided the enemies of the Jews and Israel with the most dangerous weapons.” As to the French media: “They have failed to cover this case, except very minimally. “As far as they are concerned, I am already on the intellectual equivalent of Devil’s Island” (where Dreyfus was imprisoned).
Karsenty assures me that the Palestinian staging of news events is both well known to and accepted by the French media. Perhaps they feel that exposing it is naive, tedious, and meant to spoil the Great Game of defaming Jews.
Softly and sadly, Karsenty also notes that, except for “the courageous President of the CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France), Richard Prasquier”, the organized French Jewish community has been at best unnaturally quiet about the Al Dura Affaire. He mentions, in passing, that he has lost most of his friends too.
Karsenty also names the names of some “heroes.” He said that “Israeli physicist, Nahum Shahaf, is a hero. But he was awkward, and he made enemies among the IDF.” Shahaf’s work proved that the IDF could not have fired the shots and that it was a staged event. He also names the Head of the Israeli Government Press Office, Daniel Seaman; the French psycho-analyst, Gérard Huber, who first published a book on this case in January 2003; the American professor Richard Landes, who did a fantastic job of publicizing the truth (which can be viewed here).
“In my pantheon, “Karsenty adds, “there are also a group of Americans who very quickly understood the importance of this case. (Karsenty can’t name anyone at this time since they have requested anonymity).
Karsenty also names Pajamas Media, (PJM) and their Paris bureau chief, Nidra Poller, as the only media outlet that “covered his struggle consistently, accurately, and as befit an important, historical case.” You can view some of Poller’s work here.
Karsenty is not Captain Dreyfus. He says that “Israel, not he, embodies the Dreyfus Case today.” I agree with him 100% and have said so many times. However Karsenty, like Dreyfus, has been sued and treated as a criminal by the French state. Like Dreyfus, Karsenty is being forced to defend himself. Today, the French media, not the military, are all-powerful and their considerable “honor” is at stake.
The French, who defamed and punished Dreyfus and who are now defaming and punishing the very Jewish state which arose, partly because of Herzl’s and Zola’s reaction to the Dreyfus case, partly because of chronic and extraordinary persecution in both Christian and Muslim lands, and because of Jewish religious belief; France 2 is now accusing the man who has exposed France’s latest blood libel of having “defamed” them.
A classic case of projection, reversal, and scapegoating the victim (Israel) for the considerable crimes of those who hate her.
Karsenty is an original, a real character. He told me that most people who write about his case make mistakes because the matter is complicated; thus, he asked me to submit my piece to him first, so that he could correct it. I agreed to his request.
Karsenty is zealous about, perhaps obsessed with, the truth of this matter. No one is exempted from his high standards, not even his supporters, such as myself. He asked to see a copy of my 2003 book about the new anti-Semitism and I quickly obliged him. He quickly pointed out that even I had not “gotten it” right five years ago when I wrote the book.
He is absolutely right. In “The New Anti-Semitism,” I carefully noted that many experts and a German documentary filmmaker had begun to question the veracity of the 59 second report. I noted that people had begun to suggest that the entire episode might have been staged. I also wrote: “I do know that Israel has been permanently damaged both by the footage and by the initial presumption of Israeli guilt…second and third interpretations two years later do not carry the same emotional resonance.” I noted that it was unlikely that the Israelis had killed him. But, I still wrote that “I do not know whose bullets killed the child. Perhaps we will never know.”
Thus, like nearly everyone else, I assumed that the boy had, indeed, been killed.
I did the best I could at the time with the information that was in. I even went further with it than most others did. Nevertheless, if even I could be taken in–that goes a long way to explaining how the entire world could also be fooled–a world that is not as vigilant as I try to be concerning the truth about the Jews and Israel, a world that is lethally anti-Jewish.
From now on, we cannot trust Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian media. We know too much about the fake staging of events, the doctoring of footage, the documentation of fake massacres. But we cannot afford to trust the world media either who kept replaying this staged footage without asking any questions.
Karsenty assures me that three independent journalists who viewed the raw footage “saw a series of staged events, casual passersby, a man riding a bicycle, and no death agony, as was claimed.” He said that two of these journalists were “pressured not to go public.”
Karsenty is unafraid. He said: “Unlike Dreyfus, I am not in prison. Only my social life is ruined. If they find me guilty, it will show that France is even more corrupt than we thought.”
Karsenty not only seeks vindication in the courts. He wants the kind of political intervention that will make such a court decision “official.”
He said: “President Sarkozy, as owner and effective boss of the state-owned TV France 2, will have to intervene. He could demand that the film be submitted to expert analysis. As France’s President, he could ask his TV to apologize to the entire world.”
When asked why he is doing this–since anti-Semitic anti-Zionists will only continue to defame Israel; exposure will not stop them, he usually tells people this: “Sir, did you shave yesterday? And you will shave again tomorrow? Why bother?” And then he says: “It is important to stand up for the truth, no matter the cost. That should not make you a hero.”