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Update – 23 May 2008

Dear Advocates,

Last year I wrote to you about the libel action brought against Phillipe Karsenty by Charles Enderlin and France2 television. The case was in relation to allegations about the handling by Enderlin France2 of the incident at the very beginning of the Second Palestinian Intifada in which it was alleged the IDF was responsible for the killing of a young Palestinian child Muhammad al-Dura. The French Appellate court ordered France2 to produce the original tapes taken by a Palestinian cameraman of al-Dura’s death. (To read my earlier updates click here and here).

The judge has now ruled in favour of Karsenty, after viewing the additional footage. The case is still far from over, with Enderlin claiming he will appeal the court’s decision and take it to the Supreme Court. For more information, click here. Honest Reporting has been following the case, as has pajamasmedia. Unfortunately, while foreign media was happy to jump on this case when the al-Dura incident first occurred, our media has been less forthcoming in revealing the findings over the past few years. While the winning of the case might not directly overturn the original story, it does prove that there is more to it than was reported in the 55 seconds of footage that the world viewed in 2000 and there are accusations of a deliberate cover up and an elaborate hoax perpetrated by the partisan cameraman. It demonstrates again that the media has a responsibility not only to cover the news factually, but to admit when they get something wrong and to correct their wrongdoing.  

As I mentioned last week, Ed O’Loughlin has finished up at Fairfax (his last piece has caused some controversy thanks to Media Watch and their claim that the “Jewish Lobby” was in some way responsible for his last piece getting a run in the Age but not in the Sydney Morning Herald), and we are now being treated to a more balanced approach towards reporting from the Middle East. Jason Koutsoukis’ latest offering yesterday was an article entitled ‘Hopeful moves on two Middle East fronts’. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed on Tuesday that Israel was in fact opening up the channels to negotiate with Syria through indirect talks under the auspices of Turkey. In a statement he said:
 
‘I have no illusions: negotiations will not be easy, it will not be simple and it is possible that it will take a long time and may eventually involve difficult concessions. At the same time, after weighing all the relevant date and hearing the opinions of all Israel’s security and intelligence bodies, I reached the conclusion that the chances in the case outweighed the risks, and with this hope, today we embark on this path.’
 
Sources that spoke to Haaretz report that ‘it should be easier to read a deal with the Syrians [than with the Palestinians] because the issues on the Syrian front are only territorial, while those relating to the Palestinians concern a number of sensitive matters including land.”

Click here to read about how a pullout from the Golan Heights will require a referendum or elections.

Meanwhile, on the Palestinian front, the talks between Israel and Hamas for an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire have broken down after Hamas rejected Israel’s conditions. It has been said that ‘Israel’s refusal to reopen the border crossings to the Gaza Strip and halt all military operations against the Palestinian factions immediately after a truce is declared remained the “major obstacle” to a deal’, according to an official.

Perhaps Israel’s reservations about the border crossings has something to do with repeated Palestinian attacks at the Erez Crossing, the latest of which occurred yesterday when a Palestinian bomber blew up an explosives-lade truck on the Palestinian side of the border. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that the attacks “should demonstrate to the international community that, while it demands that Israel take care of the situation in Gaza and open the crossing points, Hamas, which controls Gaza, is not interested in improving the lives of the population and doesn’t take even minimal responsibility for Gazan residents. The international community must continue to deligitimise Hamas and to support the peace process taking place with pragmatic elements.”

Even before the talks broke down, the idea of the ceasefire was being challenged. In an article from Jpost entitled ‘Truce doesn’t mean the end of resistance’ Osama Hamdan, Hamas’ representative in Lebanon is cited as saying ‘the confrontation with the [Israeli] occupation will continue despite the talk about a tahdiyah [calm]… Hamas does not trust the Israelis because they are likely to violate the tahdiyah and launch fresh aggressions against our people. As far as Hamas is concerned, all options remain open.”

Peace talks on all fronts need to continue with the good faith of both sides.

One element that Israel wanted to involve in any sort of talks with Hamas is the issue of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who on Sunday will have been held in captivity for one year and eleven months. Hamas has continued to maintain that Shalit will not be part of any truce, and that it should be treated as two separate issues. In the meantime, Israel has sent a message to Hezbollah, who are responsible for the kidnapping of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, that ‘in exchange for the two soliders, or their bodies if they are dead, Israel will release Lebanese prisoners. Israel would also return the bodies of Hezbollah members buried in Israel, but would not release any Palestinians.’ Israel has asked that Hezbollah cease to include Palestinians in the deal. To read more, click here.

I recently received an alarming video from Iranian TV from July 2006 entitled Iranian TV reports on Zionist Companies. This video makes the claim that all of the big corporations in the world are mostly controlled by the “Zionist entity”, because many of their major shareholders are Jewish, and are therefore evil. This is highlighted by a “scull & crossbones” coming up against companies such as Marks & Spencer, Loreal, and Intel. One of the more outrageous claims that they make is that “Pepsi” actually stands for “Pay Each Penny Save Israel”. The problem is the large numbers of people that buy into this rubbish. But if elements of society want to boycott Israel and those that support Israel, then they should read this old article from 2004 entitled “Boycott Israel… how to do it properly”.

Finally, during a time when many are debating the events surrounding 1948, I thought I would draw your attention to the stories that are less often told of the Jews that came from Arabic countries that became refugee after 1948. I received an interesting video from Youtube, and if you take away the title and the terrible soundtrack (!), the images tells the story of these Jews. Click here to view. 

It seems timely to pass on “The Forgotten Refugees”. It has been out for quite a while and was recently uploaded for viewing on the internet.

The blurb is: “In 1945 there were up to one million Jews living in the Middle East and North Africa outside the Palestine Mandate – many living in communities dating back more than three millennia. Today there are several thousand. Who are these Jews? What precipitated their mass-exodus in the 20th century? Where did they go? And why don’t we know their stories? Click here to view.

For something a little lighter this weekend, come and join us as we continue to celebrate Israel 60 with the Shuk Hashishim Family Festival this Sunday from 12pm-5pm at Gandel Besen House. The weather forecast predicts sun, and with over 40 stalls and plenty of activities the day will be fun for the whole family. Join us from 4pm-9:30pm for a Battle of the Bands and Israeli Dance Party. Don’t miss the SZC stall, which is promoting the “Buy Israeli” campaign. Click here for more information on the whole festival.

Best wishes,

Emily.

Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
9272 5507

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