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Philippe Karsenty: Abominable American Jewish Committee behavior
Phillipe Karsenty, Paris based media critic who fought the Mohamed Al Dura ‘blood libel’ fiction created on France 2 TV for seven years and won a major victory in May, 2008 in a French appeals court has leveled withering criticism at David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and his Paris representative Valerie Hoffenberg in an op-ed in today’s Jerusalem Post, entitled: “The American Jewish committee deserves better leadership.” Karsenty’s j’accuse is a corker and extremely revealing.
We had published an article in the March New English Review drawing attention to the missteps of the AJC during the Durban II preparatory planning and attendance of the NGO’s representative, Ms. Felice Gaer at a session in Geneva at the UN Human Rights Commission. David Harris virulently took exception to our criticism.
Note these excerpts from the Karsenty Jerusalem Post op-ed:
The American Jewish Committee is one of the world's most active Jewish institutions. It would have been entirely consistent with its mission to have stepped forward to aid me in my efforts to counter a libel that dishonored every Jew.
But under David Harris as executive director, only silence and obstruction were forthcoming.
Harris is renowned for his diplomatic skills, his warm friendship with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and his contacts at the highest levels of other European governments. Some have complained to him that his representative in France, Valerie Hoffenberg, never once objected to France 2's hoax or supported my efforts to expose it. In fact, Hoffenberg was waging a behind-the scenes counter-offensive to cover-up the al Dura lie by blocking my access to some French officials, lobbying Jewish leaders against me, and claiming that the phony news report was authentic. Harris' response was always polite and reassuring: "I will look into it," he promised.
Yet nothing ever changed. It finally became clear that Hoffenberg was not acting on her own initiative, but faithfully adhering to AJC policy. Because of Hoffenberg's activities, AJC France was actually my most destructive foe. Nonetheless, in May of last year I was vindicated in a French court.
Karsenty goes on to tie the AJC behavior to the Durban II debacle that we examined:
David Harris’' antipathy to exposing the al Dura hoax is entirely consistent with his advice to the Obama administration (as well as other foreign governments) to participate in the planning of the Jew-hating stimulus package known as Durban II - against the wishes of the State of Israel. Now he is viciously attacking three of Israel's best defenders - Caroline Glick, Melanie Phillips and Anne Bayefsky - for advocating an immediate and unequivocal boycott.
Harris' claims that he deserves the credit for the current US disengagement from Durban II or improvements in its draft declaration - after undermining boycott efforts repeatedly - are more examples of the same practice I witnessed in the al Dura context: AJC's mastery of the double game.
Karsenty cites a similar reading of Harris and the AJC by a German Jewish community official:
The following is an unsolicited note from a prominent German Jew that came to me in November 2008 and confirmed my perception of Harris' "policies":
"While you experienced problems with AJC Paris, AJC Berlin has been making problems in Germany. This is no coincidence. The explanation is that this AJC policy is supported by David Harris. AJC wants to sit in the first row among the Jewish organizations when it comes to contacts with European governments. For this reason they try to get along well with the establishments in the various countries...
"It is thus working against, and even sabotaging, other Jewish and non-Jewish NGOs that are more serious about combating anti-Semitism and supporting Israel. In short, AJC is practicing appeasement toward the European governments and elites. That establishment, for its part, appreciates AJC giving them the kosher stamp of approval. AJC is thus working against Jewish interests in Europe."
In June, 2008 after Karsenty’s French appeals court victory occurred, Ms. Hoffenberg went to Israel and Bethlehem as part of French President Sarkozy’s Palestinian initiative. In an Israpundit post, I noted the following:
Ms. Valerie Hoffenberg, the AJC’s representative in Paris, appears not to be serving of the interest of her fellow French Jews while dissing the patent truth of the Al Dura affair ‘blood libel’ as revealed by Philippe Karsenty. Karsenty was vindicated recently by a French appeals court that effectively overturned a libel action against him brought by Charles Enderlin, a French 2 news producer reported to a mute international press by Nidra Poller and a few others. Now, as unveiled by Vanessa Jones in this FrontPageMagazine article, Ms. Hoffenberg is the ‘go to’ person for French President Sarkozy on his Palestinian development initiative in Bethlehem, to be announced after his arrival in Israel, tomorrow. Watch this AJC interview with Hoffenberg, here. American Jews should be concerned about the misimpression Ms. Hoffenberg has lent to the honorable goals of the AJC. Perhaps it is time for David Harris, executive director of the venerable mainstream American Jewish group to have a discussion with his Board of Governors followed by a ‘woodshed’ conversation with Ms. Hoffenberg.
I sent this to Harris and received no reply. His and the AJC actions in the Karsenty affair and the recent Durban II brouhaha amply demonstrate that the AJC needs to evaluate the ‘great steersman’ at the helm of this venerable American Jewish NGO. This is an NGO that prides itself as being the equivalent of the State Department of the American Jewish people. A people who never elected the AJC it to fulfill this pompous mission.