Category ►►► French. Gotta Love 'Em. Don't Know Why.

August 22, 2007

Actual News, For a Change: France to Mediate in Iraq?

French. Gotta Love 'Em. Don't Know Why. , Iraq Matters , Shrinking the Gap
Hatched by Dafydd

One serendipitous benefit of the recent regime change in la Belle France is that LBF no longer reflexively launches a "Chirac attack" against anything American.

Until former French President "Crock" Jacques Chirac departed, making way for Nicolas Sarkozy -- who is not America-phobic -- France refused to have anything to do with post-invasion Iraq.

Under Chirac, France was a close friend and partner in corruption with Saddam Hussein, protecting him from American sanctions and invasions and such in exchange for billions in oil leases. When Chirac's magic frog leg finally failed, and they could no longer stave off the inevitable ouster of Hussein, the French fled Iraq in a snit (which I believe is a French automobile made by Peugot; the rival huff is from BMW, of course).

But now, under Sarkozy, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, is said (by the International Herald Tribune) to be interested in trying to broker a deal between Shia, Sunni, and Kurds in Iraq, bringing the factions together in a national agreement:

After years of shunning involvement in a war it said was wrong, France now believes it may hold the key to peace in Iraq, proposing itself as an "honest broker" between the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions. [Yes, that's really what the article says: an "honest broker."]

The shift was one of the most concrete consequences yet of the thaw in French-American relations following the election in May of President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose administration no longer feels bound by the adamant refusal to take a role in Iraq that characterized the reign of his predecessor, Jacques Chirac.

I hope Kouchner is allowed to try, and I truly hope he succeeds; such an agreement would benefit everybody:

  • The Iraqis, who could unify against their common enemies: Islamist terrorists of al-Qaeda and Iran;
  • The United States, which could more quickly draw down troops in Iraq;
  • France, which could begin developing and selling Iraqi oil again;
  • George W. Bush and the Republicans, who could point to victory to vindicate their perspicacity and perseverance;
  • The Democrats, who could... oh, wait -- no benefit to the Democrats at all. My bad.

I rather like this possibility. The French have been known as diplomats since the rocks began cooling; and I'm perfectly sanguine (which literally means "bloody," as in a ruddy complexion , I believe) with the arrangement that America does all the fighting in the world, and France and other European countries do most of the talking... so long as the sword always retains right of final refusal, as of course it always does. A France that sees itself as an American ally, not competitor or enemy, could be a tremendous boon in taming the Non-Integrating Gap, where the wild things are.

And that would actually be a blessing for everyone who matters. Even the Democrats, if they could but believe it.

Nevertheless, as Sir William S. Gilbert said, having a ruddy complexion is not at all the same as having a bloody cheek.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 22, 2007, at the time of 4:05 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 4, 2007

López Obrador Redux in France

French. Gotta Love 'Em. Don't Know Why.
Hatched by Dafydd

In a very disturbing rerun of the antics of the losing Socialist candidate for president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador -- the Zarathustra of Zocalo Plaza -- the trailing Socialist candidate for president of France, Ségolène Royal, threatens a violent uprising if conservative Nicolas Sarkozy wins the French presidency on Sunday.

She is not yet promising to lead the violence herself, as her counterpart in Mexico did; but she is unquestionably egging on the radical Moslems in the Parisian suburbs to launch another French Intifada in protest if Royal, who opposes any aggressive police action against the rioters, loses to Sarkozy -- a hard-liner who promises to restore law and order to the streets of Paris:

France risks violence and brutality if right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy wins Sunday's presidential election, his Socialist opponent Segolene Royal said on Friday.

On the last day of official campaigning, opinion polls showed Sarkozy enjoyed a commanding lead over Royal, who accused the former interior minister of lying and polarizing France.

"Choosing Nicolas Sarkozy would be a dangerous choice," Royal told RTL radio.

"It is my responsibility today to alert people to the risk of (his) candidature with regards to the violence and brutality that would be unleashed in the country (if he won)," she said.

Pressed on whether there would actually be violence, Royal said: "I think so, I think so," referring specifically to France's volatile suburbs hit by widespread rioting in 2005.

Well, we'll almost certainly get to find out whether the French jihadist "youths" will heed her call... because by all the polls I've seen, Royal actually lost ground following yesterday's debate with Sarkozy (and her hysterical diatribe in the middle of it). He heads into the Sunday election with a strong, if not commanding, 9-point lead over Royal in two separate polls.

I may be easily amused, but I always enjoy it when Leftists demonstrate their contempt for democracy and actual voting, where the voices of those they supposedly represent, the poor and downtrodden, actually have as much of a say as the rich and the middle-class (France, like most of Europe, still has an actual class system, unlike the United States). The Left is all in favor of the people... but only when the people keep their mouths shut and do as their "betters" tell them.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 4, 2007, at the time of 7:18 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 17, 2006

La Bataille Royal de la France

French. Gotta Love 'Em. Don't Know Why.
Hatched by Dafydd

No, that's not a misspelling in the title; I refer to Ségolène Royal, who just won a bruising primary -- the first for France's Socialist Party. She beat up on two ponderous, old lefties with jowls.

Ségolène Royal moved a step closer to becoming the first female president of France early Friday, crushing her two male rivals for the Socialist Party nomination in next April’s election.

With most of the vote in, Ms. Royal, 53, a regional president and former minister, won 60.6 percent of the vote of the party’s nearly 219,000 members in an unusual primary.

Her closest rival, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 57, a former finance minister, received 20.8 percent of the vote, and Laurent Fabius, 60, a former prime minister, 18.5 percent.

For reference, this is what Mlle. Royal looks like:

Segolene Wearing Clothes    Segolene nearly naked

Mademoiselle of Curvature, Parlez-vous?

(Say, shouldn't John Hinderaker be blogging this instead?)

There is a reason everyone -- including Mlle. Royal -- emphasized her looks: evidently, she's not the sharpest hammer in the box. She has virtually no experience in the weighty issues of the day for France, neither foreign nor domestic; and she did not acquit herself well in the six debates (three were televised). In fact, her lead steadily dropped... and if the Socialists could have had an American-style two-year campaign, she might have lost.

Her inexperience in foreign policy issues surfaced last week when she said during the last campaign debate that Iran should never be allowed to have a civilian nuclear energy program. As her opponents quickly pointed out, Iran enjoys that right as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

But the party members’ enthusiasm for Ms. Royal seemed to trump any slips on policy issues.

Since her two competitors looked more or less like this --

Grumpy Dominique Strauss-Kahn    Grumpier Laurent Fabius

Gumpy Old Lefties: Laurent Fabius (left), Dominique Strauss-Kahn (even lefter)

-- She probably would have stabilized and won in any event, even with a ten-year campaign season!

Ms. Royal was repeatedly attacked in the campaign as naïve and inexperienced. In addition to questioning her foreign policy background, her opponents and other critics mocked her proposal to create “citizens” juries to pass judgment on the work of elected officials, calling it dangerously populist, costly and irrelevant. At one rally in Paris last month when she discussed the issue, she was booed repeatedly.

During one debate, she defended her call for a less centralized, more representative form of government, saying: “Democracy is like love. The more there is of it, the more it grows.”

Say, isn't that how Abbey Road ends? (I mean, except for "Her Majesty," which isn't even a real song. I think it was probably the musical equivalent of those Styrofoam® packing peanuts.)

As cute as she is, especially at age 53, I have a bit of a hard time believing that even la Belle France would be in such a state of denial, in this era of terrorism and the French intifada, that they would elect a complete tyro, Socialist, "kumaya," group-hug candidate like Ségolène Royal, in preference to the hard-as-nails Nicolas Sarkozy of the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement, part of the right-wing coalition in France).

But God knows, it's always dangerous to bet against French irrationality.

The polls show the two of them neck and neck, both in an initial match-up with other candidates, then later in a run-off. But then, the 2004 polls in Australia also showed the conservative Liberal Party-National Party Coalition of Australian Prime Minister John Howard running neck and neck with Mark Latham's Labor Party... and Howard convincingly beat Latham 52.7% to 47.3%. I don't know what this has to do with France, but I wanted to toss it in to illustrate my skill with Wikipedia.

Still, I think that once the debate is actually joined, and the French realize it's a choice of a cute face and lovely body on one side and Mlle. Royal on the other, I'm sure they'll go with M. Sarkozy.

But then, what do I know? I picked Austria-Hungary in the first World War.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 17, 2006, at the time of 6:56 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 29, 2006

We Found a French Extremist - Who Actually Likes l'Amérique

French. Gotta Love 'Em. Don't Know Why. , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

As I was skimming through a Japanese-language wire service, I found this distubing USA Today article about the continuing French intifada:

A group of marauding teenagers set fire to a bus Saturday in the southern French port city of Marseille, seriously wounding a passenger and leaving three others suffering from smoke inhalation, police said.

French police have braced for a surge of violence this weekend, a year after three weeks of riots swept through France's poor neighborhoods, where many immigrants and their French-born children live. Scattered violence was reported Friday, the one-year anniversary of the 2005 riots, and another attack was reported Saturday in Marseille....

In scattered violence from Friday night to Saturday morning, six police officers suffered minor injuries and 47 people were arrested, the Interior Minister said. Bands of youths torched two public buses, and in troubled neighborhoods around the country, youths set fire to a total of 277 vehicles, police said.

On an average night in France, up to 100 cars are torched. In a statement, the Interior Ministry described the anniversary night as "relatively calm." [Good grief! 100 cars a day -- if this were happening in Iraq, Democrats would call it a "civil war"]....

At the height of last year's rioting, about 1,400 cars were burned nationwide in a single night. The rioting was fueled by anger at France's failure to offer equal chances to many minorities -- especially Arabs and blacks -- and France's 5 million-strong Muslim population.

In the Japanese version of this article, the last part was missing, leaving it open whether the violent youths were Moslems or Catholic altar boys. While researching this story, I found another article: Youths set passenger bus alight in Paris from October 23rd.

Wait, Paris? Not Marseille? No; this was a completely separate incident. Two of the biggest cities in France have had near continuous Moslem riots for the last year, with scores of cars a day being torched. In the Paris attack, after the 30 "youths" who burnt the empy bus, they ambushed the arriving firefighters by stoning them:

A band of up to 30 youths forced passengers out of a bus in a southern Paris suburb in broad daylight, set it on fire and then stoned firefighters who came to the rescue, a police official said....

District police chief Jean-Francois Papineau called Sunday's bus attack "deliberate". [Gee, you think?] He said the vehicle was forced to stop at a road block at about 2 pm. Two youths then entered the back of the bus to clear out passengers before dousing it with petrol and setting it ablaze....

When firefighters arrived, the youths began stoning them, he said. No-one was injured. At least one person was arrested. The local prefecture said nearly 30 youths were involved in the incident.

Meanwhile, France's minister for social cohesion, Jean-Louis Borloo, called on citizens to act responsibly because "tensions are raw just as we're in the process of resolving the difficulties".

And if you believe that last...

Curiously, in this article as well, the ethnic background of the 30 "youths" is missing. However, we get a hint from this sentence:

The riots last year laid bare rampant discrimination in the housing projects surrounding France's big cities where numerous French of immigrant origin live, separated from mainstream life.

"French of immigrant origin" my eye. Everybody knows who they are; why can't the elite media just say it? Yes, Paris is burning, and young Moslem men are holding the match.

I heard elsewhere that ambushing police officers in these housing projects has become so commonplace that many policemen refuse to patrol the area, a fact confirmed by the article in the Age:

On Sunday, five people were placed under investigation for attempted murder in relation to an October 13 ambush in the town of Epinay-sur-Seine, north of Paris, in which police were lured to a housing project then attacked by about 30 youths. One officer hit by a rock required 30 stitches to the face.

Again with the ubiquitous, indescribable "youths." So what are the French to do? A French bloger, Sittingbull of Les Chroniqes de l'eXtreme-Centre -- "Chronicles of the eXtreme Center," I presume -- has an extreme suggestion in an extreme post aptly titled "Francifada":

Monsieur Chirac didn’t join the war in Iraq out of fear of his domestic Muslim population. And so, “unsurprisingly when faced with some unhappiness they [French jihadis] believe they can pressure the French state into submission.”

The way out for France is two-fold. Firstly to reform its welfare state and allow the Muslim dominated slums to integrate into French society. The second is to send a signal to the French Muslim community that France doesn’t buckle under threats, that it sees itself as part of the West, allied with America, Israel, and the Free World. On a domestic level, that means employing Mayor Giuliani-style “zero-tolerance” policing in the suburbs. On a national level, France would do well to send troops to fight the Islamists in Iraq and prove themselves to be true members in the coalition in the war on terror. As it is, France is learning the profound truth of which President Bush has begun speaking in respect of Iraq -- if we retreat, the enemy will follow us home.

To be honest, I've not had a very good opinion of the French for a while -- ever since they threw obstacles every which way we turned, before the Iraq war. In Japanese I often sarcastically call that country "Great France." If you know Japanese, you know how ridiculously ironical it sounds.

But it's not fair to condemn the whole country and people just because some French politicians are elitist snobs and arrogant jerks. Even in la belle France, we find "extreme centrists" like Sittingbull, who know what is at stake.

I hope the current situaton in France will not escalate into a full-scale national riot, like last year. And I also hope that the new French parliament will handle this Moslem problem head-on (or "grab the bull by the tail and look the facts in the face," as Dafydd says). Now that I know America has friends like this in France, I can actually hope for just that forceful response.

Of course, as President Bush said, "hoping" isn't a viable long-term strategy; but we'll see what happens.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, October 29, 2006, at the time of 10:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 21, 2006

The French Correction

French. Gotta Love 'Em. Don't Know Why.
Hatched by Sachi

A strange defamation trial draws to a close in Paris, France. A government-owned television station, France 2, is suing three people who dared to criticize it for broadcasting the now infamous -- and almost certainly fake -- Mohammed al-Dura "shooting" footage, an event which set the scene for the Second Intifada... and gave the Palestinians their most durable and fraudulent martyr.


A detailed background of this trial can be read in Backspin. You can also read a long and very cautiously written account on Wikipedia, if you want more background.

In 2000, the second "Intifada" erupted after Yasser Arafat rejected an absurdly generous offer by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, an offer that President Bill Clinton virtually extorted from the Israelis. Just as the violence began, a Palestinian stringer for France 2, Talal Abu Rahma (sometimes called "TAR" in the trial testimony), presented video footage that was broadcast (repeatedly) on that station.

The video purports to show Jamal al-Dura and his young son Mohammed caught in the crossfire between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, the brave Jamal shielding his terrified son with his own body. Later, we see an ambulance loading up Jamal and his "slain" son Mohammed, both of them (the France 2 broadcast explains) having been shot up by the Israelis.

France 2 was very explicit: they flatly state that the Israelis killed the child, Mohammed al-Dura, who was subsequently declared a martyr who symbolized the entire Intifada.

The pair were whisked to hospital... where they vanished. Today, nobody can find either of them, or even whether Mohammed is alive or dead. Without question, France 2's footage inflamed the Palestinians, leading to hundreds of murders of Israeli Jews and Moslems by Palestinian suicide bombers and other terrorists.

However, later research from a number of independent sources revealed that the entire incident was staged.

In Nov. 2004, a French journalist named Philippe Karsenty published an article in Media-Ratings, a media watchdog organization, criticizing France 2 and demanding the resignation of Arlette Chabot, the head of the information desk at France 2, and Charles Enderlin, the narrator and chief defender of the program. Karsenty charged that France 2 had known even when they broadcast the footage that it was likely staged.

Among the pieces of evidence behind this explosive accusation is outtake footage that France 2 eventually had to admit holding and reveal to (a few) journalists... outtakes that showed repeated "staging" of other supposed Israeli atrocities (multiple takes, directors telling "dead bodies" how to sprawl more effectively, and so forth). France 2 maintains, however, that they don't have any footage of such obvious fakery specifically in the al-Dura incident -- though there is a discrepency between the number of minutes of outtakes they claim they have (27) and the number of minutes they have shown to interested journalists (24).

Rather than responding by presenting evidence that they were right or a point-by-point rebuttal of Karsenty, France-2 sued Karsenty and two others in 2005 for "defamation." The case was heard over the last few days in the 17th chamber of the Paris Tribunal.

The Hearing

Political Central has been covering the France 2 defamation trial in Paris for the last several days. Witness after witness has testified that:

  • Their own independent investigations show that the incident was staged;
  • That France 2’s Enderlin knew about the staging;
  • And that France 2 actively sabotaged their investigations.

So far as I can tell, France 2's entire defense consists of the following:

  1. Who the heck are these so-called journalists and professors anyway? They don’t know anything.
  2. How dare they criticize a respected established TV station such as France 2!
  3. Besides, even if the footage were staged, it's still "true," because the message was real.

In other words, France 2's primary excuse is that the al-Dura killing story was fake but accurate.

Means, Opportunity, and Motive

What bothers me most about this case is not the invalidity of the al-Dura report. Nearly every expert who has examined the footage concludes it was staged. Certainly, Talal Abu Rahma, the France 2 Palestinian stringer, had every opportunity to fake the footage -- he was there. And we know the means existed, because we have all seen many, many staged photos and even video footage since then: recall the "Pieta" body in the rubble, the Wailing Woman and her eight or nine demolished houses, and the Green Helmet Guy carting the bodies of dead children all around to "discover them" (right where he planted them) for the video cameras.

What’s bothersome is that it has become very clear that France 2 knew about the fakery, but they decided to run with the story anyway. Why? What possible motive could they have for such a blood libel against Israel?

I honestly believe it's because the story fit their prejudices against Israeli Jews... even though Enderlin himself is an Israeli Jew. This is hardly unprecedented; there are many Israeli Jews who identify rather with the Palestinian "cause" than the survival of their own nation.

I think France 2 saw its mission not to report abstract truth; rather, it was to spread the "real truth"... that is, its own anti-Israel, and probably antisemitic ideology, both of which are extremely popular in France right now.

That is why France 2 got so angry, "lawsuit" furious, at people who challenged the footage: who cares whether the Israelis really killed Mohammed al-Dura, or whether he may even still be alive? (To date, nobody has shown any evidence that he died at all.) M. Enderlin was more interested in the higher truth; he simply didn’t care how many lives were affected or even killed by his irresponsible reporting. Look instead at all those atrocities the Israelis commit every day!

Can't make an omlet without breaking a few legs.

But the implications of this trial are ominous. France 2 is a government-owned TV station. They believe they can say anything they want, and they will punish anyone who dares criticize them or attempts to thwart the broadcast of the higher truth.

If this trial ends in France 2’s victory, then freedom of speech has ceased to exist in France. There will be one truth, the government truth (pravda), and other voices won't be allowed "to confuse matters by participating in the discussion," as Robert Anton Wilson wrote in another context.

Dramatis Personae

Let's take a look at the cast of characters...

  • Philippe Karsenty, the most active of the three defendants, founder of Media-Rating.

Karsenty first became convinced that the al-Dura "shooting" was staged when ballistic tests made it clear that the al-Duras could not have been hit by direct fire from the Israeli position. But as soon as this was demonstrated, the immediate response -- not only from the Palestinians but from France 2 as well -- was that they must have been hit by "ricochets."

But Jamal says he was hit 9 times, and his son Mohammed 3 times. Twelve ricochets?

France 2 invited a few selected experts and journalists to show the outtakes, but they didn't invite Karsenty. During the trial, Karsenty was questioned by the judge about what happened next:

Q (judge): Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte, who viewed the 27-minute outtakes, said (Radio Communauté Juive) all the scenes were staged except the al-Dura scene. Jeambar cited a video of the father displaying his scars, a new element of proof shown by France 2 at a press conference.

A (Karsenty): I did not see the film because I was not allowed to attend the press conference. Leconte told me he was interested in the affair, and intended to investigate it. But Arte [French-German-Spanish cultural TV channel] warned him they would not work with his production company, Doc en Stock, anymore if he didn’t drop the subject. Jeambar was under pressure from inside l’Express, notably Jacques Attali. Alexandre Adler told me that Charles (who is his brother-in-law) was tricked by his fixer. Many people have told me privately that they know the scene was staged, but they won’t say it in public.

If you believe Karsenty (and the later witnesses), then there was a significant intimidation campaign conducted by a government TV station to stifle independent investigation, culminating in this very lawsuit.

  • Francis Balle, professor of media, former member of the CSA (French equivalent of the FCC), testified that Karsenty's expose of France 2’s al-Dura footage was persuasive; he called the original footage "dubious" and said the effect was "drastic."

Maître Dauzier (Karsenty's lawyer) asked Balle whether France 2 might have refused to show the outtakes to protect its source. Balle said non: "the footage should be shown so that the truth can be told."

Amazingly (for anyone who reads American newspapers; or blogs), one of the charges against Karsenty is that his language was "excessive." But Balle testified that it's normal to use such strong words on controversial topics. (Evidently, this is a foreign concept to France 2. Or maybe to France itself.)

To me, this sounds like the old Soviet charge of "boorish behavior."

  • Luc Rosenzweig is a "63 year-old retired journalist (Libération, Le Monde) whose last position was TV critic;" he tried to conduct an independent investigation for l'Express, to be published on the 4th anniversary of the al-Dura incident (or non-incident, as it appears).

The editor of l'Express at the time was Denis Jeambar, who eventually killed Rosenzweig's article after being pressured by Jacques Attali -- I don't know the connection between Attali and l'Express, besides the fact that he used to write for them.

Rosenzweig did not have any hypotheses about what "really happened;" he just found the France 2 report and the footage "dubious."

Originally, Rosenzweig was not allowed to see the outtakes because, he was told, the film was locked in a safe with other legal documents. When he finally did get to see them, Enderlin only showed him 24 minutes of staged scenes, not 27 minutes of "outtakes" from the al-Dura incident itself.

The time discrepency raises a question: did Enderlin misspeak, accidentally saying 27 minutes when he meant 24? Was Rosenzweig wrong about the timing? Or is there really another three minutes of outtakes that France 2 isn't showing?

If the latter -- then what is in them, and why wouldn't the TV station show those three minutes? These questions cannot be answered at this point.

Rosenwzeig tells what happened when he tried to do a proper journalistic investigation. Having gathered material from Shahaf and others on the Israeli side, he went after the other side of the story. He was told that the cameraman was receiving medical treatment in Paris; he left messages and has not had a reply to this day. He looked for a fixer who could take him to see Jamal [the father in the footage] -- that didn’t work either. He tried to see the doctors at Schifa hospital who reportedly received the corpse of a boy identified as Mohamed al-Dura [at noon or 1 PM, although the incident is reported to have begun at 3 PM] [that last bracketed statement is in the original]. He tried to go to Gaza but was refused entry. So, he concludes, I couldn’t get the other side of the story. As a journalist I can’t affirm that the scene was staged, but the probability that it was staged is much higher than the version presented by Enderlin.

Eventually, Rosenzweig wrote an article on la Ména's website, rather than for l'Express. The title is “Charles Enderlin is a liar in all languages."

  • Professor Richard Landes, medievalist at Boston University, put all the material on his website for easy reference.

When Charles Enderlin showed Landes the "outtake" footage in Jerusalem, Landes realized that, although Enderlin said he did not believe al-Dura scenes were staged, in fact Enderlin was well aware that Palestinians routinely staged scenes (many journalists call it “Pallywood").

Landes saw several minutes of the al-Dura footage that had been cut from the France 2 broadcast... and which told a shockingly different story from the TV report:

What he saw was the few minutes of al-Dura footage that was cut: the boy moves, holds his hand over his eyes, looks at the camera. He is alive. Landes affirms that as a historian he would say there is a 95% probability the scene was staged.

Enderlin showed Prof. Landes a drawing of the Israeli position directly facing the al-Duras. But in fact, that drawing was totally erroneous: the position Enderlin showed was the Palestinian position ("Position Pita"), not the Israeli position.

Three years after the event he still doesn’t know the lay of the land? Or did he think I was too stupid to check for myself? And he told me the bullets had been found. Oh? So where are they? In a bag, in the Palestinian general’s desk drawer. You believe that?

Good question. Do we? Should we believe that vital evidence is kept in some Palestinian general's desk? Forgive me for being a bit skeptical.

  • Gérard Huber is a writer and a psychoanalyst who wrote Contre-expertise d’une mise en scène ["re-examination of a staged scene"]. As the Paris correspondent for la Ména, Huber tried to investigate the supposed al-Dura shooting; he too concluded that the scene was staged.

In his testimony, he said:

The cameraman who filmed the scene [Talal Abu Rahma, the Palestinian stringer for France 2] retracted the testimony he gave to the PCHR, he declared under oath that the Israelis shot the al-Duras “deliberately, intentionally, in cold blood.”

Think about that charge: in the midst of an intense firefight, when the Israeli were outnumbered, their position in a guardhouse untenable, under fire from three directions at once -- they decide to ignore the threats to their own lives and instead concentrate their fire on an unarmed father and son crouching behind a concrete post. "Deliberately, intentionally, in cold blood."

If that were really true, it wouldn't just be in cold blood; it would be in suicidal deathwish.

But that is the story that France 2 chose to run... in its own cold blood.

  • Maître Amblard, plaintiff’s attorney; her performance was bizarre. She declined to cross-examine any of the witnesses called by Karsenty; she presented none of her own on behalf of France 2's accusations against Karsenty and the other defendants; and her closing argument was pathetic.

Nidra Poller at Politics Central describes it:

Charles Enderlin is a distinguished prize-winning journalist, author of several books. He is an Israeli citizen, he served in the army. France 2 is a national television channel, reputable, reliable. On 30 September 2000 TAR is caught in a crossfire, trapped. He takes refuge behind a panel truck, risks his life, films a scene that the other reporters could not film, they ran for cover, he filmed the death of a child, sent the images to Charles Enderlin, they were viewed by countless members of the press corps [at the Beth Agron Press Center in Jerusalem]. The images were validated. Talal Abu Rahmeh is a reliable cameraman, he has been working with France 2 since 1990.

In other words, the al-Dura scene cannot be a falsification because France 2, Charles Enderlin, and TAR are above suspicion. Whereas, Philippe Karsenty and his so-called witnesses....

There is no proof of intention, no proof of motive. The day after the broadcast everyone agreed that the gunfire came from the Israeli position. Several days later other hypotheses were expressed; Charles Enderlin refuted them....

Then Maître Amblard proceeds to hold the witnesses up for ridicule. Who are these so-called professors and journalists, what do they know about war reporting and death scenes...?

What of the so-called staged scenes in the outtakes? None of them appear in the al-Dura news report.

Let me see if I've got this argument straight: the fact that France 2 is sitting on footage of staged scenes, rather than releasing it, is used by their lawyer to refute the notion that the scenes were staged. After all, if they were staged, then France 2 would release them immediately!

It goes on and on. The entire closing argument boils down to this: our report is correct because it would be so dreadful if we were wrong; and besides, all of our critics are associated with the news service la Ména; and in any event, we're talking about Israelis here... what do you expect?

As Poller puts it:

Questioning the veracity of a patently dubious report is an insult to the honor of France 2 and Charles Enderlin because they are honorable and those who question them are dishonest, confused, shabby, worthless hecklers who don’t know when to stop.

In the end, Amblard asks for 1 Euro of "symbolic damages" to "put an end to this shameful campaign that has been going on for years, spreading untruths." In other words, France 2's entire case is a fraud, and they're hoping that by asking for meaningless damages, they can extract a settlement.

What's It All About?

Depending on how it turns out, this lawsuit will either be the best thing or the worst that has happened to French journalism since Emile Zola penned J'Accuse. The trial has exposed the age old European traditions of media bias and ideological corruption: France 2 used their reputation as a shield to knowingly spread lies, then intimidated anyone who questioned them. In other words, the France 2 lawsuit is the French "Rathergate."

The French have been fed lies about Israel by a government-owned TV station. What else has the government been lying about? Once people start asking this question, there is no turning back.

Many years ago, because of a family connection, I stumbled into the controversy over silicone breast implants. I became interested and really researched it, medical journals and all. Lo and behold, I found out that virtually everything that was reported was either flatly false or utterly unsubstantiated.

After the initial sensationalism over "silicone disease," which referred to a huge number of unrelated and harmful effects supposedly attributable to the implants, the reporters never followed up with the many subsequent studies that found the implants to be perfectly safe.

That was the first time I realized that reporters are often stupider and more ignorant than even a lay person who takes an interest in some subject. I generalized my revelation: if the media could be so wrong about an issue I understood, how much could I trust them about issues I don't know anything about?

French journalism (and the French judicial system) are just about to cross that Rubicon. What are they going to do about it? From what I read, France 2 has no case. But it is France, after all, and you never know what rough justice you're going to get.

Let’s hope the judge and France 2 itself stop short of crossing that river... for France’s sake.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, September 21, 2006, at the time of 7:58 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

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