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Thursday, 01 January 2009


"I call propaganda"

Perhaps. We always depend on the integrity of the photojournalist, and there are indeed lapses.

"Wake up!"

Number of deaths in Israel due to Hamas rockets since 2002: 19 (according to The Guardian U.K.)

Number of Palestinian deaths in Israeli offensive this week: est. 250-350

Number of homicides in Wisconsin in 2007: 183

They might as well bomb Wisconsin because there are murderers here.

Mike J.

One wants so desperately to say something, anything profound about such a poignant image- an image that should, in truth, have the very power to halt the madness that created it.

Does anyone remember the photograph, at least a decade old, of a Palestinian father caught in crossfire trying desperately to shield his young daughter? Neither side stopped till after they were dead, and here we are in a new year full a hope- and here we remain...

For how much longer will be Israel tolerated as an officialy supported terrorist state?
I'm from Europe, and that middle-asian zone doesn't really concerns me; but I can't help observing that even the news networks are biased and whenever Israel attacks somebody else, it's justified by default.
Last country that tried that was Georgia, and they were quickly nullified by russian forces. Maybe more familiar to the general TOP audience: remember Kuwait and Iraq? The last one still didn't recover from the crushing blow (which still serves as an excuse to also blow money to the US military, but that's another point).

And here we have a picture with a dead girl. It became an "excellent" picture, and I'm not gonna comment on that, but ask yourselves this question: do you really want to see more pictures like this?

Nice Mike,
I call propaganda. A number of immediate questions come to mind. Why was this child buried without a shroud as dictated by Islamic law? Without her body washed and prepared according to custom? Why is her angelic face uncovered? Why was a grave of that size used for a child? A plausible photo, and yet...

As we have seen in the past the Palestinians will always use Western sympathizers to propagate lie.

Well it's going to be a bloody mess in Gaza and mainly because Western sympathizers have let the Palestinians misbehave for so long.

Wake up!!

I must say that I don't find the headline
"Out With the Old" and "Random Excellence"
particularly fitting for such a photo.

Oy. I'm actually in Israel on vacation, in Tel Aviv, and from what I can tell and from everyone I talk to, even everyday Israelis are uneasy about this. It's possible they're tempering their reactions because I'm an American, but most seem genuinely not interested in bombing Gaza right now, let alone invading with ground forces. Our waitress at the restaurant we went to for New Year's Eve last night had a daughter who was just called up from the reserves, and the woman we're staying with is a doctor who now has extra days to work because another doctor at her hospital was called up to go to Gaza.


This is, of course, terribly sad. But I have to believe if terrorists were lobbing rockets into Madison every day for the past two years deliberately trying to kill children, instead of accidentally as in this case, you would have more sympathy for Israel.

What exactly do you expect them to do? They have already withdrawn from Gaza and the three year rain of rockets on Israeli cities was the result.

As for the European commentor who labels the Israelis as "terrorists", I can only ask what you would do if bombs were being detonated every week on buses and in cafes in the town where you live, rockets raining down on your city streets, and armed gunmen entering your schools to slaughter six-year-olds?

I do agree with MJ though that bombing from afar is unacceptable because it cannot discriminate between four year old children and 24 year old terrorists who are using the children as human shields. A ground invasion would cost a lot more in IDF casualties, but would probably result in many fewer civilian casualties, and would be a more moral way for Israel to respond.

Mike, Hamas is responsible for what is happening in Gaza. If Israel did not exist, there would still be fighting there-amongst the Arabs. Hamas and Fatah had a civil war in Gaza that ended only in late 2008. In the first half of 2007, at least 150 Arabs were killed by other Arabs in Gaza. These included children. Where was the outrage then? Perhaps you can post the photo of Sheikh Nizar Rayyan, a Hamas leader who was recently killed in the Israeli attack, where he is armed and is surrounded by other armed men. You can find the photo on the Jerusalem Post website, or at www.wwwwbipicomlink.blogspot.com. Rayyan sent one of his own sons off as a suicide bomber in 2001. His son killed two young Israelis. Who condemned him then?
To correct Stan B.'s post, I believe he was referring to Mohammed al-Dura, and the episode occurred on September 30, 2000. That incident has been widely used throughout the Islamic world for propaganda purposes, and the integrity of the reporting of that incident is even today controversial. The Israelis were reported as cold-blooded killers, when in fact it has never been proven as to whether Palestinian or Israeli fire caused the death. Even the death is somewhat controversial, as some clim it might have been staged. The entire video was filmed by a solo Arab cameraman, and was released by a French television station without proper vetting of the cameraman's story. Even Pope John Paul II is on record criticizing the irresponsible way that the story was released.
I will leave you with two quotes from Golda Meir:
'We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.'
'We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours.'


JB, whoever he is, got by far the better of your short exchange.

The child's death is a tragedy and photo is propaganda, exploited by a sophisticated Hamas propaganda operation which has exploited other child deaths in the past. One of the respondents here remembers an incident of a father trying to protect his daughter in a shootout -- actually, it was a father and his young son and only the son was killed. Though I'm not sure, I think the famous photo and film of *that* moment was moved by Agence France-Presse. Later investigation by a number of groups concluded that the boy was killed by Hamas gunmen, not by Israelis. By then, however, there were streets named for the young boy all over the Middle East.

Your comparison of the Israeli-Hamas conflict to crime in Wisconsin is simply absurd -- crime in Wisconsin is not sponsored by the Wisconsin state government. Think about your attitude if terrorists in Ripon, sponsored by the city council, started lobbing rockets into Waukesha, randomly killing 19 people whose only crime is their existence (and therefore it doesn't make any difference whether men, women, or children are killed, since their very *existence* is their crime.) What would you do to stop such an activity? It's an absurd question, but the situation in Israel is just that crazy.

I've traveled in most of the major Arab countries, and I've worked on archaeological digs in Israel, and I'm fairly familiar with the conflict. I've actually heard the blast and seen the smoke from a terrorist bomb that killed two people and wiped out a grocery store -- the terrorist was actually targeting a school bus, but was spotted before the bus arrived. About this conflict I've reached two conclusions:

1. The European attitude, and especially the attitude of the two major British news organizations, Reuters and the BBC, amounts to functional anti-Semitism. Nothing they report about the conflict is to be trusted. Nothing. They just don't like Jews and they don't like Israel. (Before somebody points out that Arabs are Semites, yeah, I know that.) Agence France-Presse used to be as bad, but seems to have been getting better after the scandal involving the shooting of the young boy.

2. There's very little justice available here, but what there is, is on the side of Israel.

I should mention that I am American-born of Roman Catholic heritage, though I'm not religiously observant, and I have no personal investment in this conflict.

By the way, has anybody mentioned how set-up the photo is? Either that, or the photographer was amazingly lucky that the step ladder was there in the cemetery to get that great angle.


Dear Matthew,

What would I do under your circumstances?

Anything but commit indiscriminate murder.'Cause that's what warfare and military attacks are. And trying to justify it by saying the other guys are doing it to; doesn't fly. Both sides are contemptible.

pax / Ctein

Of course it's propaganda. But that begs the question.

The photographs of Emmitt Till in his coffin were propaganda.

Joe Rosenthal's photograph of the Marines raising the flag over Iwo Jima was propaganda.

Every photo op at a McCain or an Obama rally was propaganda. Both campaigns manipulated the angles, who could get close enough, the lighting, etc.

The real question is how much truth does it convey.

As to the people who are talking about the child not being dead, well, I guess it's possible. But it only remains a question at all because the Israeli government has banned most western media from the Gaza Strip. Even the Israeli media can't get in.

If the Israeli government allowed international reporters inside there would be so many witnesses that no one would even try to fake a photo.

Their official excuse is that it's too "dangerous." And of course its dangerous. It was also dangerous for Robert Capa on the beach at Normandy and, yes, had a lab assistant not destroyed his negatives a lot of those photos would have also been propaganda..

I say, shut down all aid 'n' trade between the middle east and the outside world, and make them figure it out for themselves.

I'm sick of being involved in their continued and mutual retaliation.

I'm with Ctein. All I know is that if that really is a dead little girl in that picture--which I admit is something I don't *actually* know for sure--she had very little say in whether Hamas fanatics lobbed rockets into Israel. That's my only point about the murders in Wisconsin. I'm not to blame for the murderers and I can't control them, so don't punish me for their acts. My big thing recently is that I'm sympathetic to the people caught in the middle of these things. I've been sensitized by the Bush/Cheney regime--I realize now just how LITTLE influence I have over my government, their actions, or their policies. If al Queda manages to set off an atomic bomb here, then they'll kill a whole bunch of people who love Bush/Cheney policies, a whole bunch of people who hate Bush/Cheney policies, and a whole bunch of people who don't give a damn either way and just want to be left alone. I think it's deplorable to bomb civilian populations no matter what the circumstances--and just because the Palestinians do it doesn't make it right for the Israelis to do it. The single most salient historical fact about the 20th century is that in the 19th century, 9 out of 10 victims of war were combatants, and in the 20th century, 9 out of 10 victims of war were non-combatants. Soldiers should fight soldiers. The children who died in the Blitzkrieg or in Dresden, in Hiroshima or in attic lofts in Amsterdam, didn't have any control over the provocations that caused the violence.

They're all wrong as far as I'm concerned. They were fighting in the Middle East the year I was born and they'll be fighting in the Middle East the year I die, I'm sure. Nothing can ever stop it. It's the world's biggest, most enduring Hatfield-McCoy feud. I'm sick of the whole lot of them.

Mike J.

Dear John,

"What would you do to stop such an activity? [randomly killing... people whose only crime is their existence]"

If what you would do is start randomly killing people whose only crime is their existence, that just makes you both sociopaths who should be kept away from civilized society forever. It is not a moral high ground, it is not a moral ground at all.

Before someone asks me, "Well, then how would you prevent 'bad guys' from winning?" I'll say that if you choose to respond in that way, you're just another of the bad guys, and the world is not better off with two of you instead of one.

pax / Ctein

I remember back in the late '60s, getting ready for grade school and listening to the news on my mother's transistor radio. It seemed like every other day, each side of the Middle East conflict was blaming the other as to who started it first and who was really to blame. And I remember it sounding just like us kids when we played "gotcha last."

For decades, Israel refused to deal with Arafat because he was a "terrorist" (completely ignoring that Menachem Begin also was a "terrorist bomber-" I'm sure someone would argue the semantics). As a result, Arafat's power base was, in fact, slowly eroded- Israel won! Now they must deal with Hamas.

And decades later both sides are still arguing who started it...

"The European attitude... amounts to functional anti-Semitism".

This tired old canard needs to be finally laid to rest. If you read the Israeli press, there too you will find criticism of Israeli foreign policy and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Read, for example, the pages of 'Haaretz' on the web. To criticize Israel in this way is not at all racist.

In fact, criticism of what Israel has been doing in recent years amounts to a criticism of Likud party policy. Are you saying that to criticize Likud is to be anti-Jewish? That would be as absurd as arguing that to criticize the neo-cons and the Bush administration is to be anti-American (a point of view that briefly enjoyed some popularity in the US for a while after 9-11, but which thankfully has now fallen by the wayside).

Re-reading my earlier post, I realize that I should have written that criticism of Israel in recent years amounts to a criticism of the policies of the Likud *and Kadima* parties. But my point still stands: to criticize Israel is not "anti-Semitic" (to use JC's term).

The flag-raising on Iwo Jima was staged, but it was nonetheless a fairly correct depiction of a real event.

The question of whether or not this photo was staged may be interesting from a photojournalistic point of view but it is irrelevant from a political one.

Unless, that is, the nay-sayers are asserting that it is patently false due to the fact that no children have been killed and buried as a result of the ongoing attacks. If they wish to defend that position, good luck to them.

If they don't, then the photo is an acceptable depiction of reality, and whether it's journalistic, editorial or purely conceptual in nature may be a worthy photographic question... but it has nothing to do with the politics people are espousing here.

The operative phrase, my dears, is "RED HERRING."

pax / Ctein

All war, during all of history, involves "civilian" deaths.

None agricultural peoples would normally kill all non-combatants of the losing side, other than breeding age females.

With the rise of agriculture, this practice started to subside, since the survivors had a "value" called "slave".

But even with that, the non-combatants (in pre-industrial times, the very means of production) were prey, as part of economically crippling your enemy. In European middle ages, peasant males would have feet or hands removed to create a burden on their neighbors, and deprive their lord of a worker.

Females would be raped then have breast removed, removed from the labor pool and creating a shortage of wet nurses.

But some tried to soften this. In Christedom, when sacking a village on a Sunday, only one hand, or foot, or breast could be removed, not two, otherwise you "sinned".

The big difference since the beginning of the 20th century, that when carried out by the more technologically advanced states, it is less "personal".

All war is terror. For a victim, there is no relevant difference between being on the receiving end of an F-18, or a car bomb.

For the parent or sibling of a dead child, whether the victim of a Hamas or Israeli rocket, there is only left the desire for hate, and revenge.

We may choose sides as on lookers as we will. But let none of us, ever, claim one side or the other more the moral.

The ancient Sumerian god of war, was Beelzebub. The name means, Lord of the Flies.

A bunch of propaganda. Hamas is a terrorist group that values only one thing: death. They do not even care if their own die. I completely support Israel and hope they finish the job.

Below are the the series of photos I previously referred to. I was incorrect in stating that it was a girl that was killed, it was a boy- as if it matters.

Regardless of whose bullets killed him (and this, no one knows), the point is that neither side had the simple, basic humanity to stop shooting! And any argument as to which side is the more moral, the more justified, the more human is simply moot. Their mutual hatred has blinded them to all three...


If any city in any country in the world except Israel was being shelled regularly by an enemy country (yes Hamas is Israel's sworn enemy) the reactions would be normal, just look at the UK's Falkland reaction to Argentina's aggression, or the US's reaction to to the Saddam regime. Just show me any normal country in the world who's army makes 90,000 phone calls to civilians living in close proximity to enemy targets telling them when and where the attacks are going to take place and warning them to get out. We got out of Gaza, that didn't help so what does the world want us to do? Just die quietly without any fuss? Wake up and smell the coffee. After being shelled by more than 12,000 rockets and mortars in the last three years by Hamas and Fatah terrorists, enough is enough.

Ctein says: "The flag-raising on Iwo Jima was staged, but it was nonetheless a fairly correct depiction of a real event."

But what constitutes a "faily correct depiction?"

Robert E implies, for example, that posting only a photo of a dead child is a distoration of reality: "Perhaps you can post the photo of Sheikh Nizar Rayyan, a Hamas leader who was recently killed in the Israeli attack, where he is armed and is surrounded by other armed men."

But let's take the US invasion/occupation of Iraq.

ALL of the photos coming out of Iraq are highly controlled.

Does the fact that we don't see photos of the coffins at Dover Air Force Base or graphic photos of dead American soldiers in Iraq make the photos we do see "manipulations" of reality?

Of course it does.

The Israelis, in somce ways, really want to have their cake and eat it too here.

1.) They want to exclude the non-Arab press (including the Israeli press).

2.) But they also want to argue that coverage coming from Arab sources is suspect.

Well, if you exclude Haaretz and the Washington Post, then the story coming out of Gaza is going to be mainly from the "Arab point of view".

But if you don't, then westerners get to see the appalling reality of Gaza and get a sense of how disproporionate the balance of power is.

That's the real question.

p.s. Maybe coverage of the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 should have included more photos of some nasty old Hungarian drunks and wife beaters?

Gerry Morgan says:

"The European attitude... amounts to functional anti-Semitism". This tired old canard needs to be finally laid to rest."

Actually John Camp is making an even more serious charge than that.

Note, he says:

"Reuters and the BBC, amounts to functional anti-Semitism. Nothing they report about the conflict is to be trusted. Nothing. They just don't like Jews and they don't like Israel."

So not only is John Camp arguing that anti-semitism exists in Europe, he's also arguing that a hignly reputable source like the BBC is not only infected with anti-semitism but that ALL, not some but ALL of their coverage is false.

I personally find that a bit hard to believe.

Israel doesn't randomly bomb Gaza. They target the attacks on missile sites, control centers and so on. Hamas builds the missile sites and control centers among the civilian population, all the better to use civilian deaths as propaganda.

I don't think you quite absorbed what I was saying by speaking of the Hamas attitude toward Jews: that the Jews *very existence* is the crime against humanity. Americans have a hard time (as I did) absorbing the fact that people can really think something like that. To put it in California terms, okay, maybe some Californians don't like illegal Mexican residents, but how many would approve killing a Mexican child because her *very existence* is a crime? It's crazy. Yes. It is.

And it's a fact that Hamas believes this about the Jews, that Hamas is the de facto government in Gaza, and that this has been a continuing strand of some Palestinian rejectionist thought. Do a little research on the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem when you have time. The Jews do not, and have never, thought this about Arabs.

By the way, I don't think there was any doubt that the little girl was killed by an Israeli rocket. I believe she was, and that this death is the inevitable result of Hamas terrorism. Over the past decade or two, Israel has always reacted -- Israel has given up first strikes. The Israelis are desperate for peace, and would take it on almost any terms except those that would lead to their extinction.

I was not arguing that all of the BBC and Reuters coverage is false, I was arguing that you no longer tell the difference between that which is false and that which is accurate, as regards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It may be accurate in some cases, but you can't trust it to be. I spent most of my life as a newsman -- I have a Pulitzer Prize in journalism - and it hurts me to say that, at a time when so many news organizations are breaking down. But I've actually seen the coverage, and made my own judgment, and that's what I think.

In the present case, for example, the photographer's name is Mohammed Salem, and I would suggest that an Islamic photographer shooting in Gaza owes his first edit to Hamas (if he doesn't want to be shot) and only then to his employer, in this case, Reuters. Do you think that we will get "straight" news in such a situation?

Jerry Morgan -- Antisemitism in Europe...are you claiming that it went away when the Jews did? If you go to Vienna, today, you will find in a public square a plain cube-like building that is a memorial to the Jews killed by the Nazis. Very touching. On a high building wall *looking right down on the memorial* you will find a plaque *celebrating* in the most vicious terms, a fourteenth or fifteenth century pogram in which most of the city's Jews were killed...Very revealing.

Didn't the French foreign minister a few years back publicly refer to Israel as "that shitty little country?" There's a cogent political statement.

By the way, I also think bias *can* be the product of a single reporter who is the major representative of a news organization at a critical spot. I don't think CNN is tainted quite the way Reuters and the BBC are, but I once watched a CNN correspondent in Jerusalem do everything he could to get an Arab riot going East Jerusalem (my interpretation of his actions again.) As a professional news guy, I was astonished and appalled by his reporting. The only reason I could imagine for his reporting was that he was a stringer of some kind, and a major riot would get him a lot more on-air time. That's the charitable interpretation.


I might as well stick my neck out.

First, I am Jewish and a Zionist. Let me state that Zionism is the belief that the Jewish people should have their own homeland - nothing more. It ended up in where it is for a variety of reasons. And we do need our own homeland because of what happened. I was raised by survivors, in New York - the real Promised Land. In fact, Grand Island, New York was once proposed as the worldwide Jewish homeland/refuge.

A Palestinian co-worker named Tasneem, once said to me that the Balfour Declaration was not an act of benevolence. It was a early attempt to rid Europe of Jews - stick 'em over there.

Now, with this preamble out of the way, let's go to the picture making its way around the world. As sportcasters say, 'Let's go to the videotape.' No one is going to think about the Israelis killed by Hamas rockets. All people are going to see is a photograph meant to cause a visceral reaction, and it succeeds wonderfully. And Israel, and Jews as an extension, are going to lose this one: we won the battle, but lost the war.

No one can live under seige, so what is happening is that both sides are going collectively insane - and I mean that in the clinical sense.

Israel is a moral resort area for the rest of the world. Israel is held to standards the US doesn't even pretend to observe.

So what's the answer to those Hamas rockets? Let me ask a question: What ended the Cold War? Trade. The Cold War started to end with Kissinger's detente. Business and morals do not mix. Combating thugs is a police action, not military action. Blockading Gaza, when Hamas rockets first started just made a bad situation worse. No matter what, don't stop trade. Look at our embargo of Cuba. It's a total failure, and made Castro dig in his heels even more.

And why did Begin go from an Irgun terrorist to statesman? Because his side won.

We are not all a bunch of Ghandis, but we are held to a higher standard. And Palestinians are not treated with dignity, which pours more gasoline on the fire.

My wife (who is from China),and I had dinner tonight at Whole Foods. I remarked to her how fortunate we are. After eating, we walked back to Chinatown where we live. No one lives here in fear. Chinatown is basically Disneyland, and we live in it 24/7.

Unfortunately, we have now reached the point of no return. Israel has now lost another generation, and Jews and Arabs have long memories. Everyone on both sides remembers what your grandfather did to my grandfather, and so the cycle continues.

I wandered a lot with this post, and I don't know if I answered the question of what to do. But pounding Gaza into rubble is not going to change anything in the long run. It's just going to cause more hatred, of which we have had more than our share.

I just want this vicious cycle stopped. There have to be some reasonable people - everyone can't be clinically insane. Unfortunately, they're not in charge on either side.

It amazes me to hear people state that neither side in this case has the higher moral ground. Many of the comments here express the deplorability of war, and who can argue? Seeing a child being buried is tragic. But consider the ROOT cause of her death. Hamas willfully decided not to continue observing the 6-month ceasefire, and resumed launching indiscriminate rocket attacks a couple of weeks ago (as has been their routine practice). I read today that 1/8th of Israel's population is now within range of Hamas' random rockets. In all of the comments criticizing Israel's military response, I see no alternative suggestions of what Isreal should do (just the same old emotional remarks about what they should NOT do). It reminds me of some academics, who can sit around criticizing and dealing in high-sounding theories, but often never have to solve any real problems. Israel has to solve a very real problem, and has exercised amazing restraint when you look at all of the facts. Sanctions and blockades are by definition non-violent. When Israel has responded militarily, it has bent over backwards to target militant enemies. One of today's news articles describes how the IDF made phone calls to houses surrounding Hamas targets before launching airstrikes. Have we ever seen similar efforts by Hamas or Hizbullah? In the attacks of the past few days, a high percentage of the casualties have been Hamas security forces; this has even been acknowledged by Hamas. Clearly, Isreal does not launch random strikes against civilians.

But some will say that it doesn't matter; that culpability for a civilian death is the same whether it was intended or not. The end results may be just as tragic, but I don't buy the moral equivalence argument. If Hamas were to cease it's rocket attacks on the Israeli population,
the killing would stop. Unfortunately, the reverse does not hold true; when Israel keeps to itself, it is continually attacked. Arguing that these two sides are morally equivalent is ludicrous.

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