Sunday, June 15, 2008

Video Atrocity, or Media Manipulation?

This morning an article ran in Haaretz with a pic from a video of four masked men coming towards and then beginning to strike an unresisting man. The article connects the victim in the footage with a Palestinian man who was injured and is in the hospital. The BBC has the video and article, as does Reuters and a lot of Arab news sites (and no one else).

The story that goes along with the article and video is that a bunch of settlers came up to this Arab guy near their settlement, and told him to leave the area within ten minutes. They then went back to their settlement, put on masks, came back out, and began beating him up. The victim's wife was holding a video camera, and captured the sight of four ominous looking masked men approaching, and then stopped recording as soon as the first blow fell.

The Israeli police are investigating.

The special item here is that there is a video of the beating, using a camera supplied by the "human rights" group B'tzelem. The story put out by B'tzelem is that this is a typical occurrence, only now they have it on video.

My father-in-law saw the article this morning and said that it's shocking. I took a glance and said that I find it very hard to believe. Considering the history of faking videos and news over the last several years that I've been watching, we have to wait and see.

Now it's the afternoon, and I'd like to point out a few things:

Most articles about the video now note that the attackers are "claimed" to be settlers, when earlier in the day the articles simply called them settlers.

These so-called settlers acted rather strangely. They warned some guy while wearing normal clothes, went back to their yishuv, dressed up in Arab scarves tied around their faces without any signs of Jewish identity (no tzitzit hanging out of their shirts, no yarmulkahs, etc...), and then went back to beat this guy up in full view of a camera. Right.

How about the following possible scenarios: a bunch of Palestinian guys beat up some other Palestinian guy for some reason? Or, the entire thing was staged, as have so many other videos and pictures depicting so-called Israeli violence?

Without hearing from the so-called attackers, all we have to go on is a video camera from a pro-Palestinian rights movement, the word of someone who is hardly objective, a video depicting something ominous, and the loving word of Israel's friend, the BBC.

Settlers have beaten up Palestinians before (about once for every thousand deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians). It could be that this is what it's said to be. But just two days ago, Hamas claimed that Israel blew up a Palestinian baby, and forty-eight hours later even they are admitting that they did it - by accident, as Hamas agents were putting together bombs to blow up Israel babies (yet they still used it as pretext to launch rocket attacks against Israeli civilians). I think a wait and see approach is called for in this case.

Mon, 6/16 Update: This video has been around for a week, apparently, and the story keeps changing. First it was six settlers with guns, then four with baseball bats (except those are not bats in the videos, they're sticks). The only media sites carrying it are the BBC, Haaretz, and Arab media such as Iran and pro-Palestinian sites.

Tue, 6/17 Update: A father and son in the nearby settlement have been arrested, and international and non-left media are beginning to pick up the story. Most media sources are now being careful to refer to the hooded men as just that, instead of unequivocally referring to them as "settlers", until proven as such. Police are looking into whether the video was fabricated, who the Arabs in the area were, and what provocation or other events might have occurred beforehand. Looks like the story might be (more or less) accurate, after all.

Wed 6/18 Update: A nice point of view with more info.


No comments: