Hero of Our Time

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In 1839, the Russian novelist Mikhail Lermontov published A Hero of our Time, the tale of a melancholy romantic by the name of Grigory Pechorin. In the preface to the book, Lermontov explains that his protagonist is “a portrait, but not of one man. It is a portrait built up of our own generation’s vices.” Pechorin is presented as a self-indulgent cynic, prone to bouts of dejection, world-weariness and pre-Existential nihilism. “What do I expect from the future?” he asks, and replies, “nothing at all.”

It was my great privilege to meet recently another kind of “hero of our time,” one who has nothing in common with Pechorin with whom he differs in two crucial ways. To begin with, he most certainly is not a representative figure of our pusillanimous epoch but a singular presence, very much in the courageous mold of Geert Wilders, who holds the era to account. And secondly, there is nothing of the cynic about him; on the contrary, he is a man notable for his sense of justice, crusading energy, and his belief in the eventual triumph of the truth—a man who expects everything from the future.

I’m speaking of Philippe Karsenty, who delivered a talk in Montreal on October 13 of this year dealing with the infamous Mohammad al-Dura hoax perpetrated by France 2 TV. Karsenty, deputy mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine and director of the Paris-based analysis firm Media-Ratings, has become justly celebrated as the man who single-handedly defied the entire French media, political establishment and intellectual synod which closed ranks to defend the official version of what happened on September 30, 2000 at the Netzarim junction in Gaza. The episode and its aftermath are by this time widely known, but a brief recapitulation would not be out of place.

Jamal al-Dura, a native of Gaza, and his 12-year-old son Mohammad, were filmed supposedly caught in a crossfire between Palestinian operatives and Israeli soldiers at the Netzarim junction, approximately five kilometers from Gaza City. According to Israeli-French journalist Charles Enderlin, France 2 TV’s Jerusalem correspondent who edited and narrated the clip, and his cameraman Talal Abu Rhama who bore witness to the event, the Israelis deliberately targeted the two victims for a full forty-five minutes, wounding the father and killing the son. An expurgated version of the film circulated around the globe, and the international media, with scarcely an exception, condemned the Israelis as child killers. With the collusion of the Western press, the Palestinians had invented yet another martyr to grace their faux hagiography.

Indeed, it did not take long before Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish published his Requiem for Muhammad al-Dura, a piece of versified hogwash which became an instant hit and continues to this day to resonate. “Mohammad,” Darwish writes, “hunters are gunning down angels, and the only witness/is a camera’s eye…” Postage stamps commemorating the event were issued throughout the Islamic world, monuments were erected, the Second Intifada which had only just begun took on a second wind, journalist Daniel Pearl was beheaded in revenge and Israeli citizens were murdered in the streets by Palestinian suicide bombers. No one doubted the official story of Israeli barbarism and Palestinian innocence. Even the Israeli political and military establishment did not contest world opinion and issued a hurried apology. But there was a serious problem with the universally accepted transcript of the “firefight.” The only significant “shooting” was done by the camera crew.

It was soon revealed that France 2 TV possessed 27 minutes of tape but released only 59 seconds worth of material. Enderlin, who was not present at the Netzarim shootout but justified his reportage by saying that “the image corresponded to the reality of the situation,” insisted that portions of the film were too painful to reveal, enabling him to bury the outtakes. This, of course, rendered him complicit in what became a worldwide campaign of slander and disinformation, a modern blood libel in everything but name. A subsequent investigation conducted by the Israeli Defense Force arrived at the conclusion that Israeli fire, coming from an oblique position, could not have produced the round bullet holes that pocked the wall against which the al-Duras were crouching. A forensic team from Germany, which examined the evidence in March 2002, went one better, determining from angles and trajectories that the soldiers manning the Israeli outpost could not possibly have shot the al-Duras, at least not in our familiar Euclidean world dominated by the laws of geometry and ballistics.

Karsenty entered the fray shortly afterward, airing his rebuttal on his Web site, and soon found himself on the wrong end of a libel suit. In a partial reprise of the notorious Dreyfus scandal, the French Court of First Instance, despite the recommendation of the public prosecutor that it rule in Karsenty’s favour, convicted the defendant of libeling France 2 TV and Charles Enderlin. (To compound the mockery, the government of Nicolas Sarkozy later awarded Enderlin the Legion of Honor.) Karsenty vowed to continue the fight and has recently won a second decision, of which more later.

Karsenty has prepared a slide/video display with which he accompanies the lectures he has given in many cities around the world. The evidence he has marshaled from various sources, including the eighteen minutes of tape France 2 was compelled by the court to reveal, definitively reduces the entire anti-Israel media offensive regarding al-Dura to the level of abject farce. (What happened to the other nine minutes remain a mystery.) Frame after frame reveals the depth of ignominy which Israel’s besmirchers were more than willing to plumb.

We see the almost festive atmosphere on the road prior to the first burst of fire; the man struck in the leg who is then bundled the wrong way on a stretcher with his weight upon the injury; the ambulance stationed close by, as if in readiness, begin to move before the “wounded” man has even fallen to the ground; Rhama’s testimony that hundreds of shots were fired at the al-Duras although the wall behind them shows only eight bullet holes; the claim that the elder Dura took twelve bullets, which would have sufficed to kill him several times over, apart from the fact that he did not budge as he was supposedly being shot and neither a trace of blood nor a single wound was visible on his body; the migrating blood stain (!) on the bandage on his right arm, displaced from one day to the other when he was photographed on his hospital bed, and many more such countervailing details.

There was a time problem as well. Apparently the short journey from the Netzarim junction to the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, probably not more than half an hour, must have crossed several time zones. As Nidra Poller explains, Arlette Chabot, news director for the network, was caught off guard during a brief trial recess when she was informed that the dead child identified as Mohammad al-Dura was brought to the hospital in the late morning, while the alleged shooting occurred in mid-afternoon. Making the motions of someone who turns back a clock, Madame Chabot explained there was “some kind of time change that day in Gaza.” Karsenty reproduces this strange temporal hiccup in his report, adding the precise times as being between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and quoting the Palestinian biometrician on duty who deposed that the dead child was not Mohammad al-Dura and in fact was several years older.

As if this were not enough, Karsenty exhibits ten seconds of initially suppressed footage from the France 2 TV film, after the newscaster tells us that “the child is dead,” in which the boy moves and lifts his head, arm and leg. Karsenty then wonders whether we have come to believe “that a ‘dead’ child can move.” It seems that the effect of the media on the structures of our mental life may actually have impinged upon our very perceptual abilities, so that we no longer see what we are seeing, disbelieving the very evidence of our senses in our refusal to recognize images that violate our biases. As Eliyahu m’Tsiyon writes, “Here we have more testimony to the power of suggestion in a situation of ongoing indoctrination and emotion.”

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  • patricia

    A hero for sure

  • http://www.drgoodley.com Paul Goodley, M.D.

    Karsenty is far more than a hero. He is an exemplar of the decency in this world that is sustaining it. To do what he has requires allegiance to a code one would rather die for than withdraw from. There are many of such people. But they are the lighthouses that are immutable. G-d bless him.

  • badaboo

    While kudos are certainly owed to Karsenty , this is no revelation .. It was clear to all honest minds , even with the FRANCE 2 fraud video , that the whole Al-Dura drama was as phony as a three dollar bill .It was apparent just two days after the incident , when the angles , time , and circumstances surrounding the incident became known. It was a set-up and the world swallowed it with savor .
    Just like the alleged " Jenin Massacre " , even after the Palistinian Commander himself stated that the civilians that were killed were either prevented from evacuating , or forced to co-operate with his forces tobait the IDF ., and lead them into ambushes , even after " dead palestinians being carried out on stretchers , were photographed , jumping off the stretchers and getting back in line to be "another casualty " , once out of view of the "journalists , but unknowingly were taped from an Israeli helicopter high overhead . The world sucked it up , and more jews were killed in revenge .

  • badaboo

    Oh , and btw , it wasn't JUST the Left that swallowed the hook , in BOTH incidents .
    So , dont bother anyone with facts , for they are unwanted in this dance of hatred . Israel cannot depend on deserving and righteous souls as Karsenty .

  • telly

    So where's the kid now?

    • Findalis

      Hidden by all reports. If he ever surfaces the whole Pallywood industry would be blemished beyond repair.

  • kafirman

    Nice piece of work. Now it is time to go after the head of the beast: Mohammad the terrorist, torturer, unskinned psychopath and butcher. Move out of the way democrats, rhinos and MSM types.

  • Ret. Marine

    Great read and thank you for clarifing some things that I have long though of regrding this incident. The truth is known by many more than the so-called media, they are in fact nothig short of whores who know nothing of the truth and are heavily invested in the hate they precieve is wide spread, will ever admit. I would not like to have to go to the extremes as Mr. Karsenty has demonstrated but at the same time the truth will eventually come out one way or the other.. The Israeli people are God's chosen, where they will endure many of lies, killings and the sort.. It saddnes me though that many are killed and maimed as a result of these lies and they, the liars and the actors should be held responsible to their propaganda in a court of law.

  • Bob

    Good content, but this article is so poorly written that I can't bring myself to finish it. Next time try to cut the fluff and stick to the main point.

  • http://informazionecorretta.com Piera Prister

    Al-Dura is a rerun: antiSemitism never dies
    France repeats itself in its antiSemitism after more than a century since the Dreyfus Affair. Philippe Karsenty, like Emile Zola, shows a rare example of integrity to the world. He defied the mainstream media impostures and he won his arduous legal battle. What a man, he is really a hero of our times!