A Scent of Dreyfus, a Trail of Jihad

I'm unsettled because three Jews, who had enough of a conscience to question the media and call them to order over the role played in disseminating information regarding an event which sparked and spurred world-wide protests, unrest, violence and death, are being individually called before a French court of justice on defamation charges.

Ellen W. Horowitz

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"We wander over to place de la R?publique, perhaps the most schizophrenic of all of Paris's major places." -- the Paris Free Voice magazine, June 1999

If place de la Republique was schizophrenic back in the summer of 1999, then by the autumn of 2000, it was overtly psychopathic.

You would think that the bronze lady of the republic would have felt a bit violated by the keffiyahs, swastikas and hatred gracing her foundation - but she didn't protest too much. The events in Paris in the fall of 2000 would reveal an intensifying and twisted romance between pacifism, fascism and anti-Semitism. Six years later, the flames spawned by that mutant alliance have left an indelible stamp on Europe. And the prognosis for Eurabia looks grim.

Now, we Israelis are up to our necks in a regional Jihad problem, so why must I concern myself with the global Jihad scene? Under the present dismal circumstances, I'd just as soon forget Paris, and I'd urge the Jews of France to quit Paris. I'd like to turn my attention towards High Holiday preparations, but my conscience bothers me.

I'm unsettled because three Jews, who had enough of a conscience to question the media and call them to order over the role played in disseminating information regarding an incident that occurred on September 30th 2000 in Gaza - an event which sparked and spurred world-wide protests, unrest, violence and death - are being individually called before a French court of justice on defamation charges.

The media crying slander based on a law most likely designed to protect the public from defamation by the media. Now that's justice with a unique French twist.

Is it defamation to question the media? I would say that it's downright irresponsible not to. But remember, this is 21st century France, and the Lady of the Republic has been raped, Lady Liberty's in bondage and Lady Justice has a migraine - as she's been standing on her head for way too long.

But what is most difficult for a lot of us Anglos to understand is that this is more about a French code of honor than anything else. People are being put on trial for expressing opinions that dishonor or embarrass France, as France 2 television represents the French Republic. Forget the courts - this calls for a duel.

The Al-Dura trials begin this September 14th in Paris. The mainstream media may not deem the story fit for coverage (which in and of itself is intriguing and worthy of investigation), so I guess it's up to us concerned and informed folks to push this issue into the headlines.

Perhaps it's the public's love affair with the macabre and their lust for the sensational that enticed France 2 television to recklessly release footage reportedly depicting the shooting to death of a young boy, and the wounding of his father, at the hands of the Israelis (at least that's what the voiceover said). In the rush to air 55 seconds of exclusive footage, which was rushed to France 2 by their Palestinian cameraman who filmed the scene, 27 minutes of rushes (unedited footage) were deliberately left on the editing room floor. France 2's Charles Enderlin was so anxious to get the news out that he generously distributed the 55-second clip free of charge to the global media.

Despite the incredible questions surrounding the case, France 2 has persistently refused to release the unseen footage to the general public. However, those few who have seen the footage report that it's rather embarrassing, as it essentially records 24 minutes of youths feigning injuries and ambulances evacuating the uninjured.

This is not some over-the-top conspiracy we are dealing with. Highly regarded journalists and historians have gone out on a limb to question and probe the circumstances surrounding the case - the kind of people who can comfortably sip Chardonnay and discuss liberty, equality and brotherhood with top intellectuals in Paris - and they can do it in French. The kind of people who have Harvard, Princeton and Oxford under their belts, and whose writings are published in the Atlantic Monthly, Commentary magazine, the Wall Street Journal and respected academic periodicals.

But the mainstream, mediocre media just doesn't want to go there. They've lost their ability for serious introspection, cutting-edge journalism and investigative reporting. And why bother when, thanks to that very same media, so much of the public is dumbed down, passive and scandal-fatigued anyway?

Some argue: Even if France 2 was negligent in handling the affair, why obsess over an event that happened six years ago? Leave it for the history books and get on with it already.

Except that it isn't exactly history yet. At present, we're still living, in real-time, the results of France 2's rendering and editing of that footage. Inasmuch as there's a surprising lack of blood in the footage, there's been a staggering amount of blood spilled in this world in the name of Mohammed Al-Dura's image.

Now, go back to the picture of the October 2000 protest linked at the beginning of this article. The banner depicts a star of David equaling a Swastika equaling the Al-Dura image. Based on that picture, I decided to take a virtual tour through the cyber archives of Hell. I searched through the protests and riots that erupted in the Middle East and throughout the world on October 2000 as a result of the alleged Al-Dura killing. I managed to follow Al-Dura's image around the world - from Paris to Miami to Lebanon to New York to the Netherlands and then some.

(This exercise was reminiscent of sifting through the popular seek-and-find children's book series Where's Waldo? - only it's a lot more ghoulish. An enterprising young extremist may want to publish Where's Al? as part of a "Jihad for Junior" series.)

The Al-Dura image puts in a big appearance at the Durban 2001 Anti-Semitism Fest (otherwise referred to as the Word Conference Against Racism). Osama Bin Laden publicly enlisted Al-Dura's legacy for the cause of Jihad. And the image appears in the video of Daniel Pearl's beheading in 2002.

Whether we're dealing with negligence, recklessness or outright lies, the handling of the Al-Dura affair by France 2 was obscene, irresponsible and possibly devious. It must be taken seriously by the public.

Asking the right questions now and demanding valid answers may be the best way to avert further tragedy. As Jews, we need to learn to be in an actively introspective mode, where we are free to question and to exercise foresight and wisdom. It's the very key to our survival. Reserving reflection for after the fact may work well for historians, but it's not recommended for the Jewish people.

Ironically, it's the history professor Richard Landes who will be covering the trials in Paris via his blog, The Augean Stables. The professor is fully aware that we stand at an abyss. If France 2 wins their trials against three concerned Jewish citizens who dared to challenge the careless treatment of the Al-Dura affair, then it will be a further indication that the annals of history will record 21st century Eurabia as a place bereft of scruples, judgement and truth.