23. May 2008 · Comments Off on Al-Dura and the Poisoned Well · Categories: Fun With Islam, General, Israel & Palestine, Media Matters Not

Of all of the manufactured news “events”* of the last couple of years – the Koran flushing story, the so-called Jenin massacre, the adventures of Green-Helmet Guy and his penchant for playing with dead children, 60 Minutes and Dan Rather’s amazing faked TANG memos – the Al-Dura hoax sets a number of awful records, besides being about the first of them all. Jenin was debunked within a couple of weeks, ditto for Green-Helmet Guy, and about the only casualty for Dan Rather’s adventure with copies of old files was his own credibility. The Koran-flushing story sent the Moslem world screeching like a cage full of howler monkeys, even though no one could explain how on earth a solid book could be flushed all the way down past the u-bend anyway.

The Al-Dura story – that stands by itself for a couple of reasons, not least because of the very horror of the event that it presented; a frightened, cowering child, killed by Israeli troops right in front of the news cameras. A horrible event, as presented – but what was even more horrible was the speed with which the image and the event became an icon and how unquestioningly it was accepted at face value across the Moslem and the western world as well. The Al-Dura story also killed people, quite a lot of them, starting with the two lost Israeli reservists who were murdered and torn apart by a Palestinian mob within two weeks of its’ incendiary broadcast.

Of course it had happened, right in front of the television cameras – couldn’t you believe your own eyes? But as it eventually developed, maybe you couldn’t. Compare all the other video footage shot that day, of Palestinian mobs trying to provoke a reaction from Israeli solders at the Netzarim junction, while dozens of news cameras rolled, to the final edited version of the apotheosis of the littlest Paleo-martyr – which no apparently no one saw fit to do until months and years afterwards. If anything, the whole appalling story is proof of the axiom that a lie can go halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its’ boots on.

To me, the worst thing about matters like the al-Dura affair, and the TANG memo was how eagerly a thin story and staged footage were initially embraced as a representative of a gospel truth by reporters and news establishments that we had come to expect better of. Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity doesn’t even begin to excuse actions like that. I don’t know which is worse – that our national and international media overlords would be so stupid as to swallow stuff like that listed in my opening graf whole, or so venial, malicious and arrogant as to cooperate in perpetuating a blood-libel, fully knowing the basis for their story was manufactured.

I do know that increasingly the credibility of the traditional news media has been pissed away over the last half-decade, now that we have the ability through the internet to follow-up on stories like this, that once would have been relegated to the newspaper morgue and to history books written decades after events. Progress in that, I suppose. Tn the popular mind, the half-life of a libel like the al-Dura hoax is probably right up there with that of plutonium, and President Bush’s famous plastic turkey and several times more harmful.

Comments closed.