February 03, 2004


Faced by a global media that refers blandly to Hamas activists and describes suicide bombers as “Palestinians killed in the conflict with Israel”, Israel’s government is getting proactive:

The Israeli Government has taken the horror of a suicide bus bombing directly to the public via a video on the internet, bypassing what one official called the "distorted" coverage of the international news media.

"We decided this was the only way for us to bring our message to the world," said a Foreign Ministry officer, Gideon Meir.

The video is here. It contains scenes of graphic “activism”.

Posted by Tim Blair at February 3, 2004 05:17 PM

Unfortunately it is too little, too late. The world is getting wearily used to suicide bombers, now Iraq seems to be leading the league tables. Even in Israel people don't react as strongly as they used to, and it's "business as usual" pretty quickly. Like anything, it loses its shock value, though not of course for the people involved and their families. For a while, it even seemed as if the Hamas people were getting the same message, but now it doesn't look like it.

Posted by: ilana at February 3, 2004 at 08:23 PM

Perhaps news reports of suicide bombings have become 'business as usual' to some. But, putting the graphical details out for all to see may help people to realize the horror, if they have become used to the news reports.

The Palestinians have been showing pictures of their 'hardships' for decades. It's time the Israelis did the same thing.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at February 3, 2004 at 09:09 PM

It's preaching to the choir. Anyone determined enough to visit the Israeli government website probably realises suicide bombing is bad.

I also feel uncomfortable with deliberately watching such an image. Not just because something bad is going on. It's because explosions are part of Hollywood entertainment - what if the Hollywood-watching part of my brain enjoyed watching the explosion? I hope this doesn't seem strange.

Posted by: Andjam at February 3, 2004 at 09:46 PM

I also think it would be better to give the outcome a human face, rather than showing bloody body parts, i.e. stories about the after effects - parents who lost children, children who lost parents, people left crippled for life. There was a very moving story in the Telegraph (I think) a while ago about a woman who lost her mother and baby daughter in a bombing.

Posted by: ilana at February 3, 2004 at 09:53 PM

Maybe 2 years ago it could've made a difference. I doubt the people they're trying to reach will watch it. Remember the reaction to Iraq's plastic shredders?

Posted by: scott h at February 4, 2004 at 01:41 AM

Not to worry, the Palestinians are losing the battle.

Once the wall is finished, and Israel completely withdraws from the "occupied" territories, they'll have their own "state" just like they have been saying they wanted.

Of course, we know that won't end things, because the real truth is they want a Palestinian state, but only if it's territory includes all of Israel. And we also know that will never happen.

Posted by: Easycure at February 4, 2004 at 03:21 AM

Where is BongoMan, the one who was so sarcastic about USMC Brian Taylor's war photos, and who attached photos of Iraqi civilian casualties? BongoMan, if you're out there, watch this video -- and remember that these horrors were exactly what the suicide bombers WANTED, this atrocity was their specific intention. By contrast, the US clearly did not intend to cause those horrific civilian deaths and injuries. In fact, the US military goes to extraordinary lengths to try to avoid them.

Posted by: Bob Popper at February 4, 2004 at 04:27 AM

Don't the world know that terrorists want peace?
A piece of Israel and a piece of the US.

Posted by: Jessica at February 4, 2004 at 06:14 AM

"A piece of Israel" - very funny Jessica. 1 point.

Probably a very big piece though. Don't think too many angels would dance on the bit that they would voluntarily leave to the Jews.

Posted by: Arik at February 4, 2004 at 08:48 AM

In 1863, during the American Civil War, commitment to President Lincoln and the Union cause had begun to seriously erode. Northerners were becoming exhausted by the seemingly relentless bad news.

Then pioneering photographer Matthew Brady opened a showing of photos he had taken on battlefields depicting the thousands of dead and wounded. Some historians credit his New York City exhibition (combined with some timely Union victories) with a resurgent popularity of Lincoln and the Cause.

Same thing happened in 1943. Polls showed US support for FDR and the war waning. The US government allowed Life magazine to publish the now famous photo of a dead US GI half floating in the surf on the beach at Bataan.

If people see what they're fighting for and against, it's a great motivator. The Islamo-fascists do it with their necrophiliac pics on Al Jazeera (like Bongo enjoys).

I think that's why the US media won't show all the photos of September 11 (e.g., secretaries jumping from windows) but they insist they must show flag draped coffins. They're fighting against Bush and want support.

By the way, Brady the ur-photo journalist, died broke.

Posted by: JDB at February 4, 2004 at 08:54 AM

I'm kinda with you on this one, even though I know there is no Hollywood style explosion.

I've seen carnage and blown up bodies in real life. Watching a video of the the aftermath will bring back the stench and the fear, I may get nauseous, or cry or something and my hard little heart wants to avoid that, during the working day anyway.

Maybe I'll get frienly with a mature single malt this evening and check out the video then ...

Posted by: Arik at February 4, 2004 at 08:56 AM

I don't support the idea of graphic and sickening footage being used by the media at all.

Remember the NY Times published a front page picture of a dark youth being hauled along by an Israeli soldier with blood streaming from his forehead ?

They claimed it was a Palestinian youth being assaulted by an Israeli. The next day they published a small apology in the back pages when they discovered that it was an Israeli youth being gang-bashed by Palestinians, and was RESCUED by the Israeli soldier. The Times must have got a shock when the uncle of the youth in the photo wrote to them in outrage.

Even the bloody aftermath of a suicide bombing doesn't depict the depravity of the terrorists sufficiently !!

It doesn't show that BEFORE the bombing, there were smiling women and children riding on a bus to work or school, or people dining in a cafeteria relaxing and unwinding.

Similarly, showing bloody images of dead Palestinians and smoldering remains of cars doesn't show what was happening before an Israeli helicopter targetted them. Perhaps they were marching in a violent rally with rifles and explosive belts, perhaps they were transporting bombs, perhaps they were armed and firing upon Israeli troops.

Posted by: Jono at February 4, 2004 at 10:30 AM

One more thing though. I realise most images can be more misleading than they are informative. The BBC has created some of the most misleading captions for any photos appearing in articles about the middle east.

But when it comes to 9-11, those powerful images of burning buildings and plummeting bodies should be shown. Nobody could claim they distort the reality of the situation. In fact they totally enhance it. You could see the video of the attack and how the towers collaposed. This gives a complete "before and after" depiction. I don't think there could be any questions remaining after that.

Unless there is video footage of the "before and after" effects of a suicide bomber, its best to keep the graphic footage off the air. Every side in the conflict can always parade dead bodies before the camera, which makes the leftists believe in the whole "moral equivalence" concept.

Posted by: Jono at February 4, 2004 at 10:45 AM

Pictures can move people, for bad or good, in a way mere words can't. I've been surprised at myself due to how pictures of attrocities impacted me.

I'd read the stories about the suicide bombers in Israel. Read quite a few stories. I felt I was aware of what the Iraelis were going through. When I saw pictures taken at one of the bombing scenes, the pictures impacted me in a way millions of words did not.

The look of horror and pain on the faces of people who lost loved ones. Pictures of the 'survivors' who will probably spend the rest of their days in a wheelchair. Splattered blood mixed in with everyday, mundane objects. The painstaking way some Orthodox Jews were sifting through the debris to ensure they had as much of the bodies to bury as possible. Everyone at the scene trying to go about their jobs while surrounded by gore.

Same is true for the attrocities suffered by the Iraqis under Saddam and the Jews under Hitler. Pictures are powerful and make and can make an impact words can't.

I have a fairly weak stomach, so I don't care for blood and gore. The pictures of the various attrocities I've seen haven't made the blood and gore their focal point. Blood and gore are there, just not the 'stars' of the pictures.

It's hard for me to describe how the photographers did it but they managed to convey the horror, suffering, and inhumanity without making gore the focal point. (I would not be able to look at many pictures if they just showed one bloody scene after another.) They also captured the caring and dignity of the on-scene workers who were doing various jobs.

I hope the Israelis will find a way to make more use of pictures to help convey the horrors they live with every day. The Palestinians do this (use pictures) and I believe it's part of the reason they have managed to portray themselves as being the sole victims in that conflict.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at February 4, 2004 at 07:30 PM