Lens, Lies and Videotapes

Gosh Mr. Mayors, this all sounds mighty serious, but somehow the numbers and accusations just don't figure. Let's start with the people: hundreds of thousands perished in Hiroshima and millions were systematically exterminated in the Holocaust. Sixty years ago, educational, religious and cultural institutions, centers of science and industry, transportation and infrastructure, as well as entire ci

Ellen W. Horowitz

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"For they have directed evil against You, and have concocted schemes they cannot carry out." (Psalm 21)

"In one simple word: This is Hiroshima 2004," said Rafah Mayor Saed Zourab in an interview after viewing the Tel Sultan neighborhood last week. (Associated Press)

The deputy-mayor of Rafah, Omar Al-Naga, has urged the international community, particularly the European Union, to treat Israel as "a Nazi state" following the recent concatenation of atrocities and home demolitions in southern Gaza, which left hundreds of civilians dead and injured: "Israel committed Nazi-like atrocities in my city. Gestapo-like crimes were perpetrated in Rafah by the Israeli army. The world must condemn this holocaust and treat Israel as a Nazi state... Our infrastructure has been completely destroyed. We need many years to recuperate from what happened." (the Palestine Information Center)

Gosh Mr. Mayors, this all sounds mighty serious, but somehow the numbers and accusations just don't figure. Let's start with the people: hundreds of thousands perished in Hiroshima and millions were systematically exterminated in the Holocaust. Sixty years ago, educational, religious and cultural institutions, centers of science and industry, transportation and infrastructure, as well as entire cities, lay in ruins throughout Europe and Japan.

Now, before we assess the damage done to your town, let's review the profile of Rafah, which appears on the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities website. In the section called "Places to Visit", the city of Rafah is prominently featured on a page all its own. The following is the text in its entirety (there are no pictures):

"Located on the southern tip of Gaza, Rafah is a Canaanite town described as Rafia by the Greeks and the Romans. The town has some ancient mosques and archeological sites, including a mosaic floor. Rafah's beach is beautiful, offering sand dunes and date palms."

After an unprecedented influx of financial and humanitarian assistance pouring into the Palestinian Authority from the UN, the EU, the US, Israel and numerous independent sources over the past several years, Rafah boasts of ancient ruins - and they bluster over current ruins. They do, however, have date trees (thank G-d for that).

What kind of slaughter and infrastructure damage did the thriving cultural and industrial metropolis of Rafah have to endure that requires "many years to recuperate"? It seems the Israeli Defense Forces killed 41 terrorists. True, terrorism is Rafah's main export and industry. Israel also inflicted damage on your booming underground activities by destroying some of the elaborate subterranean transportation infrastructure, which is used to smuggle sophisticated weaponry from Egypt. In the process of discovering three of those tunnels and navigating through booby-trapped and explosives-laden neighborhoods, Israel destroyed 56 homes. There is an investigation pending with regards to 14 civilian casualties and we'll get to that.

It was a military operation for sure, and yes, there was some confined destruction. But what took place in Rafah surely doesn't rate as genocide, nor does it compare with the aftermath of an atomic explosion.

Why would a purported nation want to feign or orchestrate their own holocaust? Is it not an aberration to aspire to catastrophe? On one hand, it would seem impossible to actualize this base fantasy - unless, of course, the foreign press, EU, UN, international courts and humanitarian agencies were in collusion with the Palestinian Authority. Sound far fetched? Well for starters, the UN's vehicles and ambulances have been conscripted to kidnap soldiers, steal body parts and smuggle terrorists and weapons.

Rather than adhering to even the most basic of ethical standards, the international media's photojournalists behave like they're on some macabre fashion shoot for a high-gloss edition of Morbidity and Mortality.

While perusing the online photo archives of Reuters, I couldn't help but notice that the same corpse of a child was repeatedly photographed with different people carrying it. Was it staged or candid? I really don't know, but deliberate or not, it does give the illusion of additional casualties. Suspicions are raised even further now that IMRA disclosed that two Palestinian children who died in the Rafah procession incident were murdered by Palestinian gunmen and that the IDF photographed the shooting. If you doubt the authenticity of this report, please note that it was first reported in Haaretz by Amir Oren on May 21st.

Meanwhile, in the oft-photographed morgue, a lone child is repeatedly photographed in different locations of the room as he sits over assorted groupings of bodies. A spontaneous photographic opportunity or was it posed for propaganda purposes?

Another morgue picture taken by the same photographer features a teenage brother and sister who were supposedly gunned down by IDF troops. But an initial investigation indicates that their deaths were caused by an explosive device planted by the Palestinians.

The photojournalists are a rather homogeneous bunch - hardly representative of an international press corps. These are the names of the photographers and photojournalists from AP, Reuters and AFP who covered the action from the Palestinian side of the street in Gaza these past two weeks: Mohammed Salem, Suhaib Salem, Mohamed Azakir, Goran Tomasevic, Khalil Hamra, Adnan Hajj Ali, Nasser Nasser, Hussein Malla, Lefteris Pitarakis, Ahmed Khateib, Salah Malkawi, Abbas Momani, Said Khatib, Mohammed Abed, and Awad Awad.

Perhaps more and more reporters like James Bennett, who narrowly escaped a kidnapping attempt on May 19th, realize that the natives are no longer that friendly. So it seems that the news agencies have no choice but to issue press cards, lap tops and Nikons to the locals in order to get a story - any story - even fiction.

(Just a note to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Rafah: During the Holocaust, we Jews were issued yellow stars and tattoo numbers, but camera equipment, film and assault rifles were off limits to us.)

Yes, I know that two of those photojournalists names sound a bit Greek or perhaps Serbian, which brings me to Goran Tomasevic of Reuters. Goran shot a whole series of old ladies-in-the-rubble pictures last week, which seem to have left a lasting impression on Justice Minister Tommy Lapid. Tommy, these people are compiling an erroneous version of a Holocaust memorial album and you fell for it. Your carelessly chosen words are now being circulated throughout the world and are causing Israel untold damage.

As a painter, I can tell you that there's nothing like trying to capture the classic solitary figure in a moment of existential pain and loneliness. It makes us all realize how very vulnerable we are. Photo opportunities that expose the precarious human condition are, unfortunately, easy to come by in this world of ours. But Gaza is a crowded place and surely the old women have relatives, grandchildren or friends to help them gather their belongings. This was not a Caribbean flood, where entire families had been swept away. But then again, Gaza is a very cruel place and perhaps the other family members can't assist grandma, because they are busy preparing for martyrdom or the next Hamas parade.

Or maybe the family is really there, but the photojournalists didn't want to spoil the moment. Go to http://www.honestreporting.com/articles/critiques/Photo_Op.asp for an honest look and judge the media's role for yourself. Check out the hand in the lower left-hand corner which holds back the man who appears to be headed to assist the old woman, who may or may not be crying real tears. There are little kids in the area, too, but all of those cameras will end up portraying the lone Palestinian woman who stands against the fence with a convenient graffiti message in English.

Which brings me to Lefteris Pitarakis of the Associated Press. He filed a report on May 22nd that made world-wide headlines:

"Child Shot in Gaza As Incursion Continues : A 3-year-old Palestinian girl was shot and killed in this refugee camp on Saturday, the fifth day of Israeli searches and house demolitions that a senior U.N. official condemned as "completely, completely unacceptable."

The article clearly implies that Israelis did the deed, but buried midway through the piece, we see a rather ambiguous sentence: "A 3-year-old girl was shot dead Saturday in the camp's Brazil neighborhood, from which troops had withdrawn the day before, Palestinian hospital officials said. Relatives said Rawan Mohammed Abu Zeid was killed by a gunshot to the head as she walked to a shop."

The IDF wasn't in the area, which means that Palestinians shot their own. Was it a friendly-fire incident or intentional? I don't know - but remember, we're dealing with an enemy that straps suicide belts to their own children, as their mothers pray daily that their offspring will be martyred. Once again, the photo archives were filled with numerous pictures and angles of the dead child in the morgue and at burial.

Mr. Pitarakis, or some sharp bureau chief at AP, must have picked up on that disturbing little inconsistency, because by May 23rd the offending sentence had been removed and it read like this: "A 3-year-old girl was killed Saturday in the Brazil neighborhood while Hansen's delegation was in the area. Relatives said Rawan Mohammed Abu Zeid was killed by a gunshot to the head as she walked to a shop to buy candy."

Journalists and photographers who cannot be accountable have no credibility, except in the eyes of those who are either blind or evil. It seems that everybody's watching, but nobody's really seeing.

The Palestinian Arabs are killing their own, and this is clearly the mark of Cain - killing his own brother and not accepting responsibility for his actions. As a punishment, Cain becomes a perpetual refugee. Statelessness is his destiny, and neither the media nor the international courts and arenas will be able to overturn that decree.

Prophets of demographic doom should think again, as their theories and statistics are vacant. We're far more likely to see the Palestinian Arabs self-destruct than to watch them strike permanent roots in our land.

As for our military, well, I always cringe when they apologize. But then I realize that the Israeli army is humble, contrite and accountable - in addition to being an excellent fighting force. Those are the qualities that will ensure our ultimate victory and keep us in possession of our Land.

Self-inflicted genocide. I suppose we will need to coin a new phrase (or perhaps one exists) for a people who are bent on using every method available to systematically destroy themselves.

Rather than assist in our quest for truth, digital, video and computer technology often overloads our minds and obscures our vision. Contemporary photo manipulation tools, in combination with journalistic deception, will make a lot of evidence and claims impossible to authenticate and judge. Is the Iraqi wedding video authentic or forged? Who knows?

In today¹s world, justice is blind, as are our Justice Ministers (take note, Tommy). Which is why those who are interested in seeing and seeking the truth will eventually have to look inward and/or to the heavens. Because the final verdict belongs to the True Judge.