Today a French court ruled that I did not defame France 2 when I said that its news report was a staged hoax. Because I refused to be brainwashed, I was sued for defamation.
Our victory today was a victory for freedom — the freedom to think and to speak one’s mind; the freedom to question what one is told; and the freedom to disbelieve the solemn pronouncements of others when the individual concludes that his reasoning is correct and that the state and the state-run media — and all of the institutions they represent — are wrong.
The al-Dura lie is an assault on our ability to think, to criticize, to evaluate, and finally to reject information — especially the right to reject information on which we base our most cherished assumptions. One of Europe’s most cherished assumptions is that Israel is a vicious Nazi-like entity that deliberately murders Palestinian Arab children. Moreover, polls conducted in Europe have identified Israel as the greatest threat to world peace, greater than Iran and North Korea, Pakistan and Syria. The al-Dura hoax is one of the pillars on which these assumptions rely.
It is ironic that I, a private individual, had to lecture one of France’s most influential TV stations in order to demonstrate that a child cannot move; lift his head, arm, and leg; stare at the camera; and still be considered “dead” a good 10 seconds after the newscaster tells us “the child is dead.” One need only look at France 2’s own footage to realize that the “death” scene was faked.
My only objective was to correct this error. However, on the part of the French media, it turned into a titanic battle against critical thinking and freedom of thought and expression. On my part, it became a battle for the right not to be brainwashed by the French media. Only a few weeks ago, a French television station produced a documentary “proving” that the al-Dura story is authentic. First, I was compared to a Holocaust denier, and then to the fringe elements that insist that 9/11 was an inside job. I, and others who share my opinion about the story, including Richard Landes, were labeled dangerous extremists and fanatics. All the while, viewers observed the “dead” boy move exactly as I just described it. I can only conclude that, in France, it is critical thinking that is either dead or dying. Every French citizen should be complaining about this insult to our intelligence. In fact, very few complain because mass brainwashing works. Where are the angry letters to the station for its absurd documentary? Do the citizens of France now believe that a “dead” boy can move? Or have they merely forgotten how to think and draw their own conclusions?
The right to think, to speak, to evaluate, to accept, and to reject the conclusions of others goes to the very heart of what it means to be free.
Now it is time for France 2 to acknowledge that it created and is continuing to perpetuate the worst anti-Semitic libel of our era. It’s the responsibility of the French government and, ultimately, the responsibility of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy — who is, for all practical purposes, the chief executive of French public television — to finally reveal the truth.
Philippe Karsenty is the founder and president of Media-Ratings, a French website that closely monitors media bias.