Thursday, October 19, 2006


al-Dura Lives On: Philippe Karsenty Found Guilty

Well, the verdict is in, for what is concisely misnamed "the al-Dura trial" -- in which Philippe Karsenty, the modern-day Emile Zola who accused French TV of fabricating the al-Dura myth and promoting it, and was sued for "being insulting" -- Mr. Karsenty has been found guilty, and ordered to pay a fine and court costs. Mr. Karsenty has vowed to appeal the decision.

I can't possibly do this story justice. Please check out Prof. Richard Landes, who testified at the trial and has been covering this extensively at his blog, The Augean Stables. (In the case of this story, it's unfortunate how extremely apt that name is.) Initial coverage is here and here; no doubt there will be more, lots more, in days to come.

Please don't miss Prof. Landes' seminal work at; his original video clip, Pallywood, along with a new follow-up on the al-Dura case, can be found here.

For those who have not yet heard what this case is about -- in the unlikely event that I have such a reader -- Mohammed al-Dura was photographed, supposedly being shot and dying in the arms of his father, at the scene of a confrontation between Palestinians and Israelis. It has become a cause celebre, and was one of the justifications for starting the Palestinian al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 -- which makes it all the more important to determine if, as seems increasingly likely, the whole thing was a hoax from start to finish. A hoax, in fact, that has claimed several hundred lives so far, and may well claim more.

It is understandable, if perhaps not excusable, that the French journalist who produced the al-Dura footage -- and the Palestinian cameraman who filmed it -- want to defend their work against any accusations of fakery. (Their vigorous defense is even more understandable, given that they must know it was faked.) But that a French court would side with them, and fine a journalist for the "crime" of insulting another journalist, in unconscionable. (Roger Simon put it well when he suggested that perhaps he should move to France, where he can now sue the people who insult him.)

al-Dura was not the first case of Palestinians attempting to perpetrate an outright hoax on an unsuspecting press and the world; nor has it been the last, nor even the most outrageous. It is, however, quite possibly the hoax that has killed more people than any other in recent Mideast history.

UPDATE: Neo-neocon is in France, where she will be watching the second al-Dura trial. Stay tuned.

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