Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Haaretz Streetwalks For Neo-Nazi Norman Finkelstein
Haaretz Streetwalks for Neo-Nazi Norman Finkelstein
(see web site for links)
Haaretz Streetwalks for Neo-Nazi Norman Finkelstein
22 Iyar 5768, 27 May 08 03:50
The funniest thing in the Israeli media this week has got
to be the editorial in Haaretz criticizing the decision by Israeli
intelligence not to allow Neo-Nazi Norman Finkelstein to enter Israel.
Haaretz thinks he should have been allowed in, you know - all in the name
of political pluralism.
Finkie is a professional anti-Semite. I mean that quite literally. His
profession is being an anti-Semite. He was fired last summer by DePaul
University due to his complete absence of academic research publications
and has been unemployed ever since, living off you know who. Finkie
churns out "books" devoted to bashing Jews and Israel. He is best known
for his "book," The Holocaust Industry, which claims that Holocaust
survivors are frauds, liars, and hoaxsters, who extort Germany.
Finkelstein is widely regarded as a Holocaust Denier, maintains intimate
ties with Holocaust Deniers, has repeatedly declared himself a great fan
of Holocaust Denier David Irving, and claims Zionists exaggerate the scope
of the Holocaust in order to oppress Arabs (he always writes "Six Million"
with quote marks). He also is an infantile vulgar buffoon. He
commissioned a cartoon by Brazilian Neo-Nazi cartoonist Latuff showing
Prof. Alan Dershowitz masturbating while watching Lebanese civilians die.
Finkelstein is also for all intents and purposes a spokesman for the
Hezbollah, and was in Lebanon during the war two summers back, cheering on
Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel. The reason the SHABAK gave him the
bum's rush from Israel last week was not because he was anti-Semitic. No
shortage of leftist anti-Semites enter Israel all the time, and some even
have tenure at Ben Gurion University (which, unlike DePaul, gives its
anti-Semitic pseudo-academics tenure; BGU's Neve Gordon has devoted much
of his career to promoting and praising Finkelstein). Rather, the bum's
rush was because of Finkelstein's ties to Hezbollah terror. The US a
while back denied entry to Tariq Ramadan, a radical Islamist professor in
Geneva, for exactly the same reason - namely, proof of ties to terrorists.
There is no entitlement for anti-Semites to enter Israel. And
Finkelstein, who should not be regarded as a Jew at all, would not be able
to enter Israel under the Law of Return (Haaretz insistence to the
contrary notwithstanding) for the same reason that Meyer Lansky could not.
Now what should we make of Haaretz, the Palestinian daily published in
Hebrew (my colleague Arnon Sofer dubs it al-'Ard), suddenly getting all
weepy-eyed about political pluralism?
It would be touching, if not for the fact that Haaretz thinks pluralism is
great everywhere except in Haaretz. The paper is less pluralistic than
Pravda was back in the days of Brezhnev, and is less pluralistic than many
papers in Arab countries. At Haaretz there is only a single opinion that
may be expressed - the far-leftist Post-Zionist opinion of its editors.
The Haaretz editorial bemoans Finkie getting the bum's rush, and says this
is hypocritical because Israel does not prevent "Kahanists" from entering
Israel. Of course, Finkie is a Neo-Nazi with documented ties to
terrorists who openly demands that Jews be murdered in escalated terrorism
and that Israel be annihilated. The main sin of the Kahanists is the
expressing of opinions of which Haaretz disapproves. The very fact that
Haaretz sees the two matters as morally and politically equivalent tells
you volumes about the newspaper. And the fact that Haaretz has never come
out against the silly arbitrary selective denial of freedom of speech in
Israel to Kahanists also tells you a great deal about the newspaper's
ideas of political pluralism, democracy, and freedom of expression.
May 27, 2008
By NIDRA POLLER
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE
May 27, 2008
September 30, 2000, Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip: France 2
correspondent Charles Enderlin offers the world a front seat on the video
shooting of Mohammed al-Durra and his father Jamal. Targeted, according to
Mr. Enderlin's voice-over commentary, by "gunfire from the direction of
the Israeli positions." A few seconds later: "Mohammed is dead, his father
is critically wounded." The France 2 cameraman, later identified as
Palestinian stringer Talal Abu Rahma, caught the child killers in the act.
A prize-winning scoop!
Mohammed al-Durra crouching behind his father at Netzarim junction, Gaza,
September 30, 2000.
Independent analysts and Israeli officials seeking clarification of
inconsistencies in the al-Durra news report encountered stubborn
resistance from the state-owned French channel and its Mideast
correspondent. An Israeli army investigation concluded the gunfire could
not have come from their position; independent investigators went further
and declared that the incident had been staged. Exasperated by the
controversy, France 2 and Mr. Enderlin sued four Web sites for defamation,
won three cases and lost the fourth on a technicality. Philippe Karsenty,
director of the Media-Ratings watchdog site (www.m-r.fr), convicted of
defamation for calling the al-Durra report "a hoax," took the case to the
Court of Appeals.
May 21, 2008, Palais de Justice, 11th Chamber of the Court of Appeals:
Presiding judge Laurence Trbucq announced the verdict with a delicate
smile: Philippe Karsenty is acquitted; the plaintiff's claims are
dismissed. France 2 counsel Matre Bndicte Amblard blanched, shrugged her
shoulders, and disappeared into thin air. Mr. Karsenty celebrated the
decision as an admonition to reckless media who provoke violence with
falsified inflammatory news.
An honest reading of the ruling calls into question the al-Durra myth.
French media didn't bother to come to the funeral. Were they confident
that Charles Enderlin would be vindicated? Did they think Philippe
Karsenty, whose honor they had sullied by likening him to Holocaust
deniers and 9/11 conspiracy nuts, was already dead and buried?
Mr. Karsenty's defamation conviction in the court of first resort had been
celebrated as proof that the al-Durra death scene was authentic. Reactions
to his acquittal, which can be counted on the fingers of one bony hand,
reassert that impression. In a three-second segment at the tail end of
Wednesday's primetime news, France 2 implied -- with the famous al-Durra
image in the background -- that the report had, once again, been
authenticated despite the acquittal of an -- unnamed -- defendant.
Playing on the complexity of the law dating back to July 29, 1881, Charles
Enderlin and his allies insist that Mr. Karsenty is still guilty of
defamation. The incriminated statements Mr. Karsenty made in 2004 on his
Web site did damage their reputations. But the court found that despite
the lack of absolute proof, the statements were nevertheless justified by
the defendant's good faith, due diligence and appropriate language. The
judge therefore acquitted Philippe Karsenty of all charges.
In a move unprecedented in media litigation, France 2 and Mr. Enderlin
have referred the case to France's highest court (the Cour de Cassation),
which rules solely on technicalities, not on substance.
The 13-page ruling is drafted with the same ethical and intellectual
clarity exercised by Judge Trbucq throughout the proceedings. The court
first establishes the principle that Charles Enderlin "...as a
professional journalist reporting from Israel and the Palestinian
territories for primetime France 2 newscasts...cannot shield himself from
criticism; he is...[necessarily] exposed to...scrutiny...from citizens and
colleagues." And then the court validates, exhibit by exhibit, the
evidence that led Philippe Karsenty to question and ultimately denounce
the al-Durra report.
While Mr. Karsenty submitted voluminous evidence, France 2 and Mr.
Enderlin relied on an above-suspicion strategy based on the elevated
reputation of the journalist, his total confidence in the Palestinian
cameraman who filmed those images without the French correspondent there,
and the unquestionable dignity of the state-owned television network.
Their position weakened when Judge Trbucq ordered them to submit the
unedited raw footage filmed on Sept. 30, 2000. They only partially
complied. In lieu of "unedited raw footage," Mr. Enderlin presented an
18-minute excerpt and, for the first time since litigation began, appeared
in court on Nov. 18 to oversee the screening.
Reinforcements were brought in for the final hearing on Feb. 27 -- news
director Arlette Chabot to bolster Mr. Enderlin, and Matre Franois Szpiner
to assassinate Mr. Karsenty's character, comparing him to 9/11 conspiracy
theorist Thierry Meyssan, Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, and "the Jew
who pays a second Jew to pay a third Jew to fight to the last drop of
Israeli blood." This aggressive strategy backfired.
The court kept its eyes on the evidence. It is impossible in the limited
space available here to do justice to a document that deserves
line-by-line appreciation. The following examples drawn from the decision
are a fair indication of its logical thrust: Material evidence raises
legitimate doubts about the authenticity of the al-Durra scene. The video
images do not correspond to the voice-over commentary. Mr. Enderlin fed
legitimate speculation of deceit by claiming to have footage of Mohammed
al Durra's death throes while systematically refusing to reveal it. He
aggravated his case by suing analysts who publicly questioned the
authenticity of the report. Examination of an 18-minute excerpt of raw
footage composed primarily of staged battle scenes, false injuries and
comical ambulance evacuations reinforces the possibility that the al-Durra
scene, too, was staged. (There is, strictly speaking, no raw footage of
the al-Durra scene; all that exists are the six thin slices of images that
were spliced together to produce the disputed news report.)
The possibility of a staged scene is further substantiated by expert
testimony presented by Mr. Karsenty -- including a 90-page ballistics
report and a sworn statement by Dr. Yehuda ben David attributing Jamal
al-Durra's scars -- displayed as proof of wounds sustained in the alleged
shooting -- to knife and hatchet wounds incurred when he was attacked by
Palestinians in 1992. In fact, there is no blood on the father's T-shirt,
the boy moves after Mr. Enderlin's voice-over commentary says he is dead,
no bullets are seen hitting the alleged victims. And Mr. Enderlin himself
had backtracked when the controversy intensified after seasoned
journalists Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte viewed some of the raw
footage in 2004. The news report, he said, corresponds to "the situation."
The court, concurring with Messrs. Jeambar and Leconte, considers that
journalism must stick to events that actually occur.
The frail evidence submitted by France 2 -- "statements provided by the
cameraman" -- is not "perfectly credible either in form or content," the
The landmark ruling closes with an eloquent affirmation of the right of
citizens to criticize the press freely, the right of the public to be
informed honestly and seriously, the right of expression guaranteed by
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, a right that
applies not only to inoffensive ideas but also to those that are shocking,
The media that dramatically reported the killing of Mohammed al-Durra are
deathly silent today. They didn't inform the public about the ongoing
controversy, didn't attend the trials and have apparently decided to place
this story into an artificial coma. As if this judgment against a
colleague who placed blind trust in his Palestinian cameraman and, when
called to clarify his report, attacked the questioner instead of
questioning his own competence were not newsworthy?
The press corps has consistently closed ranks with Charles Enderlin. One
week before the verdict was announced, pay-to-view TV station Canal+ aired
a documentary seemingly concocted for the purpose of branding Philippe
Karsenty -- and anyone who challenged the al-Durra story -- as
Mr. Enderlin is the dean of French Middle East reporting. On France 2, he
has full latitude to present his editorializing as factual news. Pointedly
ignoring the al-Durra controversy, France 2 continued to give Mr. Enderlin
-- in tandem with cameraman Talal Abu Rahma -- high-profile status on
primetime news. Every few years Mr. Enderlin collects his material into
another "authoritative" book on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Mr. Enderlin
has been the driving force in convincing French public opinion that Israel
was to blame for the breakdown of the July 2000 Camp David talks. Further,
Mr. Enderlin argues that the "Al Aqsa" or second intifada turned violent
because of the disproportionate repression of civilian protest by
uncontrolled Israeli military personnel.
Mr. Enderlin claims ultra-Zionist Likudniks want to prevent him from
reporting objectively on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is now replaying
the Karsenty case on his French state-TV blog where, in the absence of the
wise Judge Trbucq, he wins hands down. He claims the al-Durra controversy
was fomented in response to the publication of "Le Rve Brise" (Shattered
Dreams), where he pinpointed Israel's responsibility for the collapse of
the peace process.
France Tlvisions director Patrick de Carolis and the CSA -- roughly
equivalent to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission -- have been
repeatedly called by media watchdogs to intervene in the al-Durra
controversy. Can they all remain deaf to the wisdom of a courageous judge
who has reasserted the journalist's responsibility to serve the people and
account for the way he does his job?
Ms. Poller is an American writer living in Paris since 1972.
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