Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Child is Not Dead: Philippe Karsenty and the al Dura Hoax

by Mark Tapson
On September 30, 2000, Charles Enderlin, the Israel bureau chief of the France 2 television network, received an urgent call from his cameraman. It was the beginning of the Second Palestinian Intifada, and Talal Abu Rahma claimed to be filming a firefight between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces at the Netzarim junction in the Gaza strip. He sent Enderlin footage of a panicked young boy caught and killed in the crossfire as his father tried in vain to protect him from Israeli troops, whom Rahma accused of purposely targeting the defenseless pair. Enderlin added a voiceover grimly narrating the boy’s death and hurried the footage to France 2.

The disturbing video circled the world faster than you can say “blood libel” and aroused international condemnation of Israel. Images of the atrocity immediately achieved iconic status as confirmation of Israeli brutality and Palestinian victimhood. It inflamed the Intifada, which left thousands dead. Bin Laden even referred to the boy’s death in a taped warning to America, and the now-familiar image of the al Duras under fire appeared in the background of the videotaped beheading of Jewish-American journalist Daniel Pearl. Streets, parks, youth camps and public buildings have been named in Mohammed al Dura's honor. His image adorns stamps and monuments.

Yet suspicions arose that the boy’s martyrdom was not only untrue, but actually staged for the cameras, for a gullible media all-too-eager to paint Israel in a damning light. As Pajamas Media’s Paris editor Nidra Poller put it put it, “the husk, the raw footage that would reveal the fakery, had been removed, leaving the kernel rich in anti-Israel nutrients.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The World Turned Upside Down: An Interview with Author Melanie Phillips

by Mark Tapson

There are few more trenchant, fearless, and necessary cultural critics than Melanie Phillips. A columnist for London’s Daily Mail and winner of the 1996 Orwell Prize for journalism, she is the author of a number of books, most notably the brilliant Londonistan (2006), which chronicled the cultural decay that paved the way for England to become the epicenter of “Eurabia.”

Now her wide-ranging new book, The World Turned Upside Down, provocatively subtitled “The Global Battle Over God, Truth, and Power,” chronicles how the West has moved from the Enlightenment to the Age of Unreason, when rationality and truth have given way to ideology and propaganda. “Power,” she writes, “has now hijacked truth and made it subservient to its own ends. The result is a world turned upside down.”

I was honored to meet Melanie Phillips at her speaking engagement Monday at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel, and she graciously agreed to an interview.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Four Lions" Review: Jihad Comedy Self-Destructs

by Mark Tapson
Can a comedy about jihad make us laugh? Certainly there’s not an iota of humor to be found in the ruins of the World Trade Center, or the massacres in Mumbai or London or Madrid or Ft. Hood or Beslan or Tel Aviv or anyplace else where murderous Muslim fundamentalists have struck.

But writers through the ages have successfully employed satire and farce to empower their audiences to confront ugly realities of power, politics, and war. With drama, the entertainment industry has had mixed success at best coming to grips with the threat of Islamic terrorism; but perhaps comedy, handled correctly, could open up an accessible perspective on this grimmest of contemporary topics.