Meet the Man Who Exposed the Al-Dura Hoax
When we met, Karsenty was also awaiting the result of another legal battle, this one involving L'Express magazine, which he had also sued for defamation of character. The verdict would be delivered in a few days' time, and he was feeling hopeful. "French society is anti-Semitically sick," he said as he tore into a salad. (He had just come from two meetings, and was frantically hungry.) "The only body that resists is the French Justice [system]. Only the Justice [system] tells the truth.”
As its tenth anniversary approaches, the Al-Dura case remains both infamous and threatened with encroaching obscurity. Though it is likely to be widely commemorated in the Muslim world, Karsenty doubts it will get much publicity in France, where the media continues to “hide and protect the hoax.”
Two years ago the left-wing French newsweekly Le Nouvel Observateur asked journalists, intellectuals, and just about anyone else connected to the media to sign a petition in support of Enderlin and France 2’s reportage, while deploring the behavior of Karsenty. The petition can be viewed online, and the number of names attached to it is staggering. (A wickedly amusing article about the petition, and the underlying politics of the French media, was published in the Weekly Standard by Anne-Elizabeth Moutet in July 2008.)
“You know why so many journalists sign for Enderlin?” he asked rhetorically. “Because they don’t want anyone to look into their work. Some of them [have] made so many mistakes. ... You know, I used to be a stock broker and I made mistakes. When I was a stockbroker, I would have signed a petition to prevent you from looking inside the accounts of any of my colleagues. All of us do that. All professions make mistakes. The main problem is that when you’re making mistakes in finance, or in industry, or in construction, then you have someone who says, ‘Hey, you made a mistake, you have to correct this!’ But in the media, nobody asks you to correct, and you are protected by your colleagues. People say, ‘Oh, but there is competition between the media!’ But this is not true. There is no competition, especially when it comes to this kind of topic.”
The Israeli establishment has not been much kinder. Four years ago Karsenty ran into Israel’s ambassador to France at a cocktail party. The ambassador refused to shake his hand. “I was like this,” Karsenty says, leaning forward in his seat and stretching out his arm. “He refused to shake my hand. Because he was a friend of Enderlin’s.”
And there, perhaps, we come to the crux of the matter. It is tempting to suggest that Enderlin may have more friends than even the most socially ambitious teenager on FaceBook, only in his case the friendships are real, and powerful, from Israel’s current President, Shimon Peres, to France’s omnipresent left-wing economist, author, and talking head, Jacques Attali. Nicolas Sarkozy’s foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, bestowed the Legion of Honor on Enderlin in August 2009, thus sealing the reporter’s respectability, and the list of names on Le Nouvel Observateur’s Web site continues to grow.
A small number of people in France have backed Karsenty, including the philosopher Pierre-Andre Taguieff, who dedicated a substantial part of his recently published book, “La Nouvelle Propagande Anti-Juive” (“The New Anti-Jewish Propaganda”) to the al-Dura saga. Karsenty notes that Taguieff is not Jewish, which he believes is a plus in this case, and says that the formerly mediagenic philosopher has been cut dead as a result of his new book. He flatly describes those Jews who have failed to criticize France 2’s reportage – “most of the Jews at the highest levels, the so-called Jewish intellectuals” – as “pathetic. They are court Jews who traded decency for access to power and the media outlets.”