Dr Richard Landes of Boston University writes about these legal proceedings on his blog The Augean Stables. The multi-faceted Landes is also the force behind the outstanding Second Draft, Al Durah: Birth of an Icon and Pallywood projects - all of them very well-made, provocative streaming-video views of the challenge posed to western society by manipulated and manipulative news and images emanating from the Islamic world. And all of them viewable on the web.
Commencing 14th September, 2006, the trials in Paris will review the actions and words of three French citizens who used Internet sites to publish criticism of France2’s coverage of the Muhammad Al Durah affair and of Charles Enderlin, a television journalist. Dr Landes is going to be there, and will blog-report on them. Each trial invokes an 1881 law on press freedom that purports to protect individuals, groups, ethnicities and religions from defamation that strikes at the honor and consideration (reputation) of "the individual or institution in question".
In an analytical preview of the judicial proceedings, Augean Stables makes the case that the trials will throw a sharp light on the disturbing direction of events in Europe and the West since 2000. Among the issues:
1. The radical misreading of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a Palestinian struggle for national independence rather than a part of global Jihad, which has the Europeans siding with the forces of global jihad against themselves.
2. The ways in which this pro-Palestinian rhetoric has introduced an Arab street in Europe and strengthened the forces of Islamism and Jihad around the globe.
3. The roles played by the French and European media in this process, and the exceptional denial that permeates French public life on the issues of Eurabia and global Jihad.
4. The fundamental significance of anti-Zionism in European perceptions of the Al Durah icon, and how Al Durah as a 21st century blood libel has opened the gates to both Islamic anti-Semitism and more overt European anti-Zionism.
5. The ways that French (and European) politicians have ignored the rise of anti-Semitism in their midst through repeated denial.
6. The relationship between anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism and the dimensions of France's "politics of resentment".
7. The close connections between the French media (especially AFP) and the French foreign policy elite.
8. The ways the French legal system has functioned both in encouraging anti-Jewish violence with its lenient sentencing of anti-Jewish comments and deeds, and is now being used to silence any criticism.
9. Overall, the way the Al Durah affair has played out in France over the last 6 years shows in painful detail the dysfunctions of French culture and politics, and illustrates the ways in which Eurabia operates. We can see clearly that Europe has become vulnerable to aggressive Islamism and Jihadism in the cause and effect of Pallywood's success among European media gatekeepers. The European media are astonishingly credulous when considering video footage that is transparently dishonest.
The Al Durah video has become an icon in the worst and most malignant sense of the word. Yet for all their influence and importance there are parts of it that have been seen only by a handful of people (explained on the Augean Stables blog). Dr Landes suggests that the reaction, if they were more widely available:
...would be astonishment — and indignation at the media. It would be obvious that there is a direct correlation between media manipulation of information and the broad public support for anti-Zionism. But, absent the complete video, the eagerness with which Europeans “learned” about Muhammad al Durah’s “death” at the hands of the Israelis, made the fake so much more acceptable. In like fashion, the shocking news from Kafr Kana has triggered a horrified call to cease fire immediately. The West is being victimized by its enemies’ manipulation of images, for those deceitful icons and faked reports are received uncritically, even when not enthusiastically, by the West’s own media. Given that synergy between Islamist malice and easily-duped news outlets, how can the Western public make intelligent decisions? ...If free and responsible (hence reasonably accurate) media are the eyes and ears of civil society, then we are flying blinded by this kind of information over very dangerous terrain. Much in our troubled world hangs in the balance. The more people know, the more the judges become self-conscious about making their decision, and the more we can hope that France will make a sane decision from the perspective of both the law and the media.If you haven't viewed the streaming videos, please go and do it now, or tonight.