Well, not really. It’s actually “mind games, the photographs,” but that doesn’t provide the same hook. Mind Games, the movie, by the way, would be the September 30, 2000 France2 video of Muhammad al Durah, a Palestinian boy in the arms of his father, purportedly being shot by Israeli soldiers – an event that was one of the pretexts for the Second Intifada. I wonder how many readers at this moment know, over nine years later, that it is quite generally agreed by the journalistic community and investigators that al Durah was not shot, either purposely or by accident, by Israeli soldiers, but was, at the very least, the victim of Palestinian fire, if not a tool in a staged incident. There was, in fact, much staged activity recorded on video that day by Palestinian cameramen employed by Western news organizations. Richard Landes, who provided expert testimony in a French civil suit on the matter, has developed probably the most extensive documentation of the affair, available at his blog, the Augean Stables. Landes has dubbed the complex of parties and forces producing such media manipulation in the Israel-Palestinian conflict Pallywood. It is my intent in a forthcoming post in the Mind Games series to focus on the work of Landes and various concepts he has developed regarding intellectual tendencies at play in Western political thought.
Today, however, I focus on photographs, or more to the point, call attention to Elder of Ziyon’s focus on photographs, those in a photo essay in Palestine Today that, once again, purports to show IDF soldiers physically assaulting and abusing Palestinian women. In order to grasp the full extent of the manipulation and deceit, one should follow the two links provided, so as to experience the presentation of the photo essay and then Elder’s reorientation for readers of what they are viewing. I will offer here just the essence of what Elder reveals.
In Nabi Saleh village, on the West Bank, IDF soldiers were engaged in what is, unfortunately, too routine a confrontation with Palestinians, including Palestinian teens pelting the IDF forces with rocks. Mixed into a series of photographs showing agitated confrontation and physical contact were the following three photos, in this order, but separated from each other by other photos in a discontinuous presentation. The three photos appear, particularly out of chronological order and in isolation from each other, to show an IDF soldier physically assaulting a Palestinian woman with his machine gun.
One can easily see how, in disordered isolation, the images appear to show a woman being struck by a machine gun or stumbling from the assault. Now, below, are the three photographs, in their proper chronological order and together, and Elder of Ziyon directs us to note that the woman is not being struck by the machine gun, but, in fact, has her hands on its barrel, as she has attempted to wrest it away from the soldier, who is resisting the attempt.
But if you look closely, things are not as they seem.
The pictures are being shown out of sequence: the Arab woman, knowing that IDF soldiers aren’t going to fire at her, tries to grab the machine gun out of the soldier’s hands (picture 3 [in the Palestine Today presentation], machine gun mostly obscured but you can see the strap), manages to turn the soldier around while holding on to the strap of the machine gun as he tries to pull it away (picture 2) and then the first picture shows him after he managed to wrest it away, while other soldiers come to help him out!
It turns out that these photos were snapped by Reuters, and the caption of photo #3 is “A Palestinian woman tries to grab the weapon of an Israeli soldier in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, near Ramallah, January 22, 2010. ” For some reason, they didn’t caption photo #2 the same way, and they botch the caption of photo #1 as if the IDF soldier is about to assault her, even as they add “The woman ran away unhurt.”
As in all instances of this kind of mind game, there are two fundamental aspects of the consideration. One is the nature of the misapprehension of the facts, and whatever purposeful activity has produced the misapprehension. The other is the nature of the response from those who have misperceived and misunderstood, whether they accept the revelations of an altered disclosure of reality, and, if they do not – if they reject it against the evidence, or rationalize the distortion – why it is that they do so.