Naming and shaming.
Following Wednesday’s arrest of a Border Policeman on suspicion of murdering a Palestinian teenager in a May 15 Nakba Day protest, here is a partial list of Israeli and pro-Israel figures who insinuated that the video of the shooting (which also showed the killing of another teenage protester) had been fabricated:
Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon: “I’ve seen lots of films that were edited [to distort what had happened]. This film I’ve not yet seen, but I know the system.”
IDF spokesman Maj. Arye Shalicar: “That film was edited and does not reflect the reality of the day in question, the violence.”
Roni Daniel, Channel 2’s military correspondent and media warmonger supreme: Times of Israel: “Daniel suggested that the film may have been staged and faked. … His queries were not about whether two Palestinians had been shot that day, Daniel said, but rather about whether the NGO footage being disseminated indeed actually showed such shootings or was fabricated.”
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren: On CNN: “The many, many inconsistencies, you see two young people who were supposedly shot, one to the chest, one through the back but they both fall in the same way. They fall forward which is inconsistent with what we know about combat deaths. We see a picture of Israel forces shooting. But if you zero in on that picture, you will see that those rifles indeed have the sleeve on the barrel, which is used for rubber bullets, not for live ammunition.”
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon: “The organization for the “protection of Palestinian children” stands behind this latest video, as they were behind the Muhammad al-Durrah video. … When it is revealed that this video is fabricated, we must hit these organizations where it hurts them the most: the tax-exempt fundraising.”
Media “watchdog” CAMERA, reprinting a story from right-wing Jewish newspaper Algemeiner: “The usual suspects are pushing the story and video of the alleged killings has gotten a huge number of hits on YouTube, but it’s pretty clear that something is amiss with the story the Palestinians have told the world about what happened at Betunia.”
Jonathan S. Tobin, editor of Commentary magazine online: “Those who cry bloody murder at the Israelis today will owe them an apology if, as may well be the case, the film is a fraud and the Nakba killings are a new version of the al-Dura blood libel. “
Yisrael Medad, co-founder of Israel’s Media Watch (another “watchdog”): “In concert, this is clear evidence of a Pallywood production. Showing the edited videos, then the fuller ones (showing the set-up) in succession — with appropriate narration would make this case with crystal clarity.”
These and countless other right-wingers have popularized the idea that whenever a video shows Israelis battering or killing Arabs without cause, the video is a fake, either staged or doctored. They come up with all sorts of seeming “discrepancies” to make their case, just like conspiracy freaks do to “prove” that the CIA killed Kennedy, or that Israel was behind 9/11, or that no one ever walked on the moon.
None of them have ever come close to demonstrating the inauthenticity of a single one of the many, many videos that show Israeli soldiers, police, settlers or ordinary hotheads abusing or killing Palestinians. Yet their claims are naturally accepted as truth by anti-Arab Jewish nationalists, who happen to run the present Israeli government and much of the Diaspora Jewish establishment. And so this campaign – which argues that the Palestinian victims in these videos were either never killed, or killed by other Palestinians – has become enormously influential in Israel and the Diaspora. It neutralizes, and to a great extent even reverses, the effect of each of these videos as they come to light: instead of being clear evidence of Israeli brutality against Palestinians, the video may not be that at all – in fact, it may be evidence of Palestinian deceitfulness, or even of Palestinian willingness to kill their own so they can blame it on Israel.
Ultimately, the message of these right-wing Zionist truthers is that every allegation of Israeli wrongdoing against Palestinians, videotaped or not, is bullshit – none of it should be believed. This is not a fringe notion; it is the reigning view in Israel and the Diaspora establishment.
The campaign began after the infamous killing of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura while he was cowering behind his father in Gaza on September 30, 2000. Film of the incident taken by France 2 television was used by Palestinians and their supporters to whip up support for the Second Intifada. (In fact, the al-Duras were caught in a crossfire between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen; no can say for sure whose bullets struck them.) Boston University history Prof. Richard Landes, French “media analyst” Philippe Karsenty and others began publicizing “evidence” that the France 2 film was faked, with Landes coining the term “Pallywood” to describe it and others like it. They maintained that the the al-Duras had either never been shot, or been shot by Palestinians out to blame Israel, and that the truth had been covered up since. Their “evidence” is a mountain of lurid garbage, which includes the claim that the blood seen in the video spreading across the boy’s midsection is actually a red cloth he was holding to look like blood on camera! The source of much of the al-Dura campaign’s “findings” come from by Nahum Shahaf, an Israeli physicist who cut his teeth as a conspiracy theorist on the Rabin assassination.
In May of last year, the Pallywood theory of the al-Dura killing was adopted in full by the Israeli government in a report commissioned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and written by the Kuperwasser Committee, whose members were drawn from the Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, IDF Spokesman’s Office and Israel Police. Netanyahu declared the findings to be “the truth.”
In May of this year, this same theory was applied by Moshe Ya’alon, Roni Daniel, Michael Oren and many others to the video of the Nakba Day killings of Nadim Nuwara, 17, and Muhammad Salameh, also 17. The video was taken by a private security camera at the site of the protest. It was distributed by Defense for Children International – Palestine. The protest had included stone and Molotov cocktail-throwing, but the video shows Nuwara and Salameh being shot while walking along harmlessly, long after the violence of the protest had ended.
The unnamed Border Policeman was arrested on suspicion of murdering Nuwara – and his commander arrested for covering it up – based on the fatal bullet provided by Nuwara’s family. There’s a chance, of course, that they won’t be charged, and if charged there’s a chance, of course, they won’t be convicted. But the arrests by themselves should deeply discredit all those whose reaction to the video of the alleged murder of two Palestinian teenagers (no arrests have been made in Salameh’s killing) was to cry “hoax.” And for all those who are not anti-Arab Jewish nationalists, the arrests by themselves should be enough to debunk the Pallywood theory of the Nakba Day killings, and cast extreme skepticism, at the very least, on the theory in its entirety.
Going forward, or backward, there will be more videos like this one, appearing to show Palestinians getting killed without cause by Israelis. When they surface, people should remember what a certain anti-Arab Jewish nationalist declared in a different context, and say: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, let’s not immediately cross off the possibility that it’s a duck.
More on the Beitunia killings:
Border cop arrested for Nakba Day killing, debunking IDF tales
Beitunia killings and the media’s incredibly high bar for Palestinian stories
Truth, tapes and two dead Palestinians
Details of Palestinian deaths jeopardize a system of denial