BBC goes to Pallywood

Last night (November 14th, 2012), BBC News 24 broadcast footage that appeared to show a Palestinian “casualty” in Gaza Half a minute later, the “casualty” has fully recovered. Divine intervention or just another example of Palestinian perfidy? See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-Vms2eAeUU to decide for yourself. Of course, Hamas and its supporters are not interested in a fair or balanced media. But why is the BBC using dubious footage and not checking its sources properly?

The BBC’s journalistic standards have been below par for many years, which is why the broadcaster is in so much trouble at the moment. Unfortunately, most media organizations – both broadcast and print – are just as lazy and corrupt, so the BBC is not alone in its use of untrustworthy sources and biased reporting. What is particularly distressing is that Israel is always on the receiving end of such bad journalism. It’s almost as if the western media is working on behalf of the Palestinian propaganda machine, often dubbed “Pallywood.”

Pallywood, a portmanteau word of Palestinian and Hollywood, is a coinage used by some media watchdogs to describe doctored and fake media footage produced by the Palestinians to illustrate their false but lethal narratives about Israel. Calev Ben-David, writing in The Jerusalem Post, described Pallywood as “media manipulation, distortion and outright fraud by the Palestinians and (and other Arabs, such as the Reuters photographer caught faking photos during the Second Lebanon War), designed to win the public relations war against Israel.”

Canadian columnist Paul Schneidereit says: “We’ve seen cases where the bodies of Palestinian martyrs carried on stretchers are inadvertently dropped, then, of their own volition, climb back on again. We’ve seen reports of massacres, as in Jenin in 2002, that turned out, after independent investigation, to have been greatly exaggerated. Needless to say, such episodes don’t instill an abiding trust in subsequent Palestinian claims, at least until they’re verified.”

The methods used by the Palestinian disinformation industry include:

1. Using visual media to construct fake stories of Israeli atrocities. This involves editing media footage and staging events. For example, directing Palestinian civilians, ambulance drivers, doctors and police to “act out” roles such as the “injured man,” the “dead child,” the “concerned medic,” the “brave freedom fighter.” Palestinian journalists and cameraman are complicit in this theater of propaganda.
2. Luring Israeli soldiers into schools, shelters and hospitals and using civilians as human shields in order to increase the casualty rate. For example, in 2009 Hamas militants fired mortar shells from a school in Gaza. The IDF returned fire, resulting in 40 civilian fatalities.
3. Ignoring or downplaying attacks on Israeli civilians, and omitting to mention the oppression and murder of fellow Palestinians by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
4. Repeating the claim that Israel ethnically cleansed Palestine in 1948, despite the fact that Palestinian leaders deliberately spread false rumors of rape and massacres in order to provoke Arab armies to fight on their behalf.
5. Repeating the claim that Israel is a colonialist occupier of a country called Palestine, despite the fact that there has never been a Palestinian nation and that Jews have lived in the Holy Land for the past three thousand years.
6. Depicting the Israelis as Nazis and claiming the Jews faked or exaggerated the Holocaust.
7. Masking the prosperity of the Gaza Strip by focusing on isolated examples of hardship.
8. Disseminating faked reports of massacres, deaths of children, atrocities and privations to the Western media. e.g. claiming the Israelis had carried out a massacre in Jenin in 2002.
9. Appealing to the United Nations, Amnesty International, the Western media and NGOs for help and/or aid, despite the fact that Israel provides aid and/or allows passage for humanitarian assistance.

According to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, contemporary society is alienated from “the real” due to an “ecstasy” of information. Reality is no longer objective but mediated by television, newspapers, films and the internet. Media consumers live in a “hyper-real” universe where reality is simulated. Baudrillard’s theory of the hyperreal helps explain why Pallywood is so successful. Although the Palestinians are no match for the Israeli Defense Forces, they are winning the Arab-Israeli conflict in the hyperreal realm.

The fact that Pallywood has found such a willing audience in the West strongly suggests the idea of the “real” has been shattered. As far as the Western media is concerned, faked events are no less real than reality itself. Indeed, they may be more real because they serve a “higher cause”, which is the demonization of Israel.

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