I mentioned the article about my work on Pallywood and Al Durah. Here it is. Aside from some slight incoherences, it seems fair. I append the two comments by students.
A look at Mideast propaganda
Issue date: 4/10/08 Section: News
A banner [shown in a power point presentation] at the Newton Public Library bore the Star of David, and equated the symbol of Judaism to a swastika and a slain Palestinian child to make a strong statement about the growing conflict in the Middle East and how some Westerners may be deceived by Palestinian propaganda.
Boston University College of Arts and Sciences professor Richard Landes spoke a week ago about symbolism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and about Muhammad al-Durah, a Palestinian boy who was allegedly killed by Israeli troops in late 2000 to trigger anti-Israel sentiment in Europe. Landes said he does not think Israelis killed al-Durah – he said Palestinians staged the boy’s death for cameras through a medium known as “Pallywood.”
Landes coined the term “Pallywood” to mean systematic Palestinian attempt to stage scenes for Western cameras, effectively serving as anti-Israeli propaganda for the Western press, he said.
“This was run as news and seized upon by a world anxious for nasty stuff about Israel,” Landes told attendees.
Landes said after the speech that in two hours of propaganda footage, “the best we got is a fake ambulance scene.”
Landes founded the Center for Millennial Studies in 1996, a BU organization dedicated to studying the millennium and its impact on apocalyptic thought, which he said surrounds claims of radical Islam.
Jack Schuss, a member of the Boston Israel Action Committee, which sponsored the lecture, said he thinks Landes’s thoughts on the subject of Palestinian and Israeli conflict are noteworthy.
“On the subject he’s very knowledgeable” he said.
Andrew Gow, a University of Alberta history professor, said he met Landes at the first conference for millennial studies in 1996.
“This is a guy with enormous insight and intuition,” Gow said. “[His] eagle eye pierces to the core of the matter. His ideas are often utterly original. He’s willing to pursue a question because he’s curious about it.”
Landes goes against established precedent by asking new and oftentimes controversial questions using techniques shunned by tradition historians, Gow said.
“I think his work is controversial. I think the establishment doesn’t like it,” Gow said. “They’re objecting as much to the conclusions as to his methods.”
Although trained as a medieval historian, Landes uses skills honed as a historian in his analysis for Pallywood, Gow said. Historians need to detect abnormalities inside and outside a text to determine its authenticity, and Landes has applied this skill towards raw video footage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Gow said.
Landes has analyzed select, raw footage of clashes between Palestinians and Israelis and discovered that, as outlined in his 2003 movie Pallywood, Palestinians sometimes stage scenes in front of Western cameras to deceive Western audiences into being more sympathetic toward their cause, Landes said.
Landes said he thinks the mainstream media disseminates one-sided news coverage because of a fear of angering Palestinians and jihadist Muslims, and because they want to help people they feel are oppressed.
In his presentation at the Newton Library, Landes detailed his evidence and said he thinks the al-Durah incident was staged, and the incident sparked anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments in France.
“There is no cost to saying nasty things about the Israelis,” Landes said. “You say something bad about the Palestinians and the best you can hope for is to not be let back in . . . You have this masochistic postmodern narrative where we are guilty.”
Here are the comments.
posted 4/10/08 @ 12:35 PM EST
This is a bit biased. Israel seems to do the same thing when an Israeli boy gets killed, but they retaliate with great military force. Recently a prominent Rabbi in Israel has been quoted “The Talmud states that if gentiles rob Israel of silver they will pay it back in gold, and all that is taken will be paid back in folds, but in cases like these there is nothing to pay back, since as I said – the life of one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs,” added Rabbi Eliyahu. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has also been quoted saying that if radicalists in Palestine continue attacking, they will face a “shoah,” which is the Hebrew word that refers to a holocaust. Israel’s deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio: “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they will bring upon themselves a bigger ‘shoah’ because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.” The anti-Israel sentiment is not without basis, and westerners are deceived if they think that Israel is doing no wrong.
posted 4/13/08 @ 2:55 PM EST
According to Matt Kaplan’s narrow “Look at Mideast Propaganda” (DFP, 10 April 2008), Professor Landes “thinks the mainstream media disseminates one-sided news coverage because of a fear of angering Palestinians and jihadist Muslims.” Others would argue that one-sided news coverage is of quite a different sort — one that stems directly from the very legitimate fear of being labeled anti-Semitic.
The truth is that there has never been, in the U.S. at least, an open, honest, objective discussion–either in the political halls of power, or in the local and national press–of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. It would surely be more than an academic exercise to examine scrupulously what each side has suffered.
Note that neither of them confront either my argument or the evidence.