Pallywood's producers are constantly creating stories for the foreign media as part of Palestinian efforts to blacken Israel's image. As Rod Liddle has observed, writing for the UK's Spectator magazine:
If we - or some other TV monkeys - had not been there, it would not have happened. (Emphasis added) We were there to witness injustice; and also, if possible, exacerbate it for the benefit of the viewing public.... And when the TV crews, or the international observers are around, the Palestinians play it up for all it is worth; they know how it will go down with an international audience.
A good example of how the news can be distorted by photographers comes from a demonstration staged by Palestinians near Bethlehem on 21 December 2007. Pallywood has signed up one of the most visible and loved symbols of the holidays - Santa Claus. Wait until the cameras are in position and then confront Israeli soldiers. If the wire service happens to be using a Palestinian photographer you even get the bonus of a caption depicting an unsubstantiated incident based solely upon Palestinian "eyewitnesses" as in the AFP photo below:
Caption: An Israeli soldier tackles a Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus or Father Christmas during at a protest against Israel's separation barrier in the village of Umm Salamunah near the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem. Israeli guards beat five demonstrators during the protest on Friday, organisers said. (AFP/Musa al-Shaer)
Let's take a look at a similar photo and caption from the same incident, this time taken by Kevin Frayer (presumably not a Palestinian) for the Associated Press:
Caption: A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, tries to block an Israeli soldier from arresting another demonstrator at a protest against Israel's separation barrier in the village of Umm Salamona, near the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem, Friday, Dec. 21, 2007. Israel says the barrier is necessary for security, while Palestinians call it a land grab. The man was not injured in the incident. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
So it seems that the soldier has not, as the AFP would have you believe, "tackled" Santa. The soldier is clearly holding on to the clothing of another demonstrator while Santa has jumped into the fray creating a timely scene for Xmas.
Nowhere are you able to get an accurate picture of the size of the demonstration or otherwise. Photos of the event, such as the one below from Reuters are framed as close-ups giving the impression of a large turnout even when closer examination, such as the previous photos, may suggest the opposite:
Caption: A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus scuffles with Israeli border police officers during a demonstration against the construction of the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank village of Umm Salamouna, south of Bethlehem, December 21, 2007. (REUTERS/Nayef Hashlamoun)
Reuters' own video (click on the image to view) of this event certainly seems to suggest a small number of people attending this demonstration Also notice how the Palestinian Santa appears to be well trained and media savvy - while managing to instigate dramatic photos of being "tackled" by Israeli soldiers, Santa suddenly becomes an advocate of peace and hope when interviewed by a Reuters cameraman. Such is the sophistication of the Palestinian propaganda machine that Santa is able to provoke violent confrontation while, at the same time, talking about peace. With the aid of a compliant media, Israel is still painted as the bad guy.
The images taken by AFP, AP and Reuters are used by media outlets around the world who do not have the resources to check the validity of a caption or even the story covered by the photographers. In the final analysis, it is the power of the image that is important - and it nearly always appears negative for Israel irrespective of the facts or the context.
So keep an eye out for these types of image - after all, as we have seen in the Lebanon Fauxtography and al-Dura cases to name but two - the camera doesn't always tell the whole story.
BETHLEHEM IN THE NEWS
Predictably, some media outlets reproduced the standard and inaccurate stories of the plight of Bethlehem during the Xmas season, choosing to lay sole responsibility at Israel's door. Among the worst was Kenneth Woodward's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that falsely claimed that Christian pilgrims were unable to visit Bethlehem and holy sites over the holiday season and completely ignored Israeli security concerns. Woodward also failed to acknowledge the role of Islamic extremism in forcing Palestinian Christians to leave the Holy Land.
In fact, Israel has accommodated Bethlehem's holiday tourism by easing security restrictions and scaling back security ops in the area and Bethlehem is having its best tourist season since the violence began in 2000.
For more on this issue, see our 24HR Megaphone alert on the WSJ, our recent communique "The Grinch That Destroys Christmas" and WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein's roundup of media distortions of the Bethlehem story.
BACK IN 2008
We wish all of our subscribers well over the holiday season. We'll be back in the New Year to continue the vital work of the past seven years with more new initiatives and content. Stay tuned and, if you haven't already, view our latest movie - Seven Years on the Front Lines - by clicking on the image below.