Meet the Man Who Exposed the Al-Dura Hoax

So where does the case against France 2, which at the moment is in France’s Supreme Court, go from here? Karsenty once expressed the hope that President Sarkozy, as the de facto head of France 2, might step in to resolve the issue once and for all. “He might, and you know what, he will,” he said. “If not him, his successor will force France 2 to admit the fraud. This is the only bottom line of this fight. This fight is [for] the admission of the lie. Of the blood-libel. Of the hoax. That’s it. My ultimate goal is acknowledgement of the hoax. When it’s done, it’s done.”

A few days after our meeting, Karsenty e-mailed me to say that he had lost the lawsuit against L’Express. The judgment stated that although the magazine article had indeed been defamatory in its characterization of Karsenty, it had been written in good faith, since the truth of the matter was unknown at the time and the author, Vincent Hugeux, had relied on the Canal + documentary for his information. So a temporary setback, yes, but reading between the lines, another in a series of hairline fractures in the carapace of respectability the French media has fought so hard to maintain around Enderlin’s original report.

Pressed as to where he planned to take the case from here, Karsenty stated that his only goal was to have France 2 officially admit to the al-Dura fraud on its evening broadcast. As for the cover-up, he says, that will be for historians to study. (The French press aren’t big on reporting cover-ups – one reason why they were so astonished by Watergate in the 1970s.)

A small but telling step in the direction of Karsenty’s goal was taken on July 12 when the newly appointed head of French television, Remy Pflimlin, was asked, at a hearing in the French Senate, about France 2 and the Al-Dura case by Senator Jean-Pierre Plancade. Predictably, Pflimlin acted as if he had never heard of the case (he said he would “examine the dossier”), but the fact that it was mentioned at all was yet another tell-tale sign that sooner or later, France 2’s error will have to be admitted to.

Why did this particular senator – described by Karsenty as “a leftist, but a very soft leftist” -- bring up such a controversial subject in so public a forum? For the simple reason, Karsenty says, that Plancade is “a decent man who can’t stand France 2’s lies, anti-Semitism, and the cowardly attitude of France’s other media outlets on Al-Dura.” As to the question’s effect, Karsenty believes the mere airing of the subject is enough to make France 2 and its allies in the media feel increasingly uncomfortable.

For the time being, Karsenty is willing to give French television’s new CEO the benefit of the doubt and wait and see what he does. “All the options are on the table but I believe in common sense and I’m sure he will not want to spend his mandate with al-Dura not solved.”

As Karsenty got ready to catch his train, I accompanied him to a news agency inside the station where he went to buy some gum. At least two books by one of his many foes, Attali, were on prominent display at the tables in the center of the store. In a loud voice, Karsenty asked the lady behind the counter if they carried “La Nouvelle Propagande Anti-Juive,” the new book by Taguieff – whose work he assured me would normally be on sale at the train station, where bulky tomes by philosophes are promoted as avidly as detective novels.

Was it my imagination, or was there an unusual decisiveness in the woman’s voice when she replied, in an equally strong voice, that, no, they did not carry it? The honest answer is: It was hard to be sure.

I watched Karsenty disappear into the rush of international commuters, looked around at that magnificent old train station, and thought, not for the first time, what a beautiful country France is.

(Photo of Karsenty in thumbnail by Bernhard -- Ed.)