We have not done this section yet, partly because the subject of how Israel responded to the al Durah footage raises some of the most difficult questions in the affair. Most people, when presented the evidence for scenario five immediately come up with the biggest anomaly: if it’s a fake, why haven’t the Israelis said so, especially the army? And why has the Israeli media almost unanimously accepted the story, at least in its milder form of the Israelis by accident.
Indeed, the Israelis are exceptionally reluctant to even bring up this subject without “110% proof.” The lack of cooperation that we have received from both the IDF Spokesperson’s Office and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of Hasbarah (“Office of Explaining”) not only explains the poor quality of the fifth-hand footage we make available here, but defies all expectation, certainly from those who believe these offices are “propaganda organs.” And the newspapers are still more bizarre. As one student said to me when I assigned readings and presented the material, in response to a withering assault on the IDF’s investigation by Israel’s most prestigious newspaper “If Ha-Aretz is an Israeli paper, why does it sound like it’s written by Palestinians?”
Behind this reluctance to reconsider and aggression against those who do, lies one of two possible causes: 1) the evidence is that the Israelis really did kill Muhammed al Durah and don’t want the issue to come up; and 2) they fear that no matter how innocent they may be, the world will not believe it, and to bring it up is to recall to people’s minds this terrible event (the boy’s death or the Israelis’ vilification) again. It is simplest to believe the first. It’s harder to investigate the second, which takes us on difficult paths exploring the complex dimensions of Israeli society, with its own culture wars, its own problems with a Mainstream Media that takes addresses the rest of the world at least as much as it does its own citizens, its own guilty feelings for their conflict with the Arabs.
For those who wish to understand some key elements in the process whereby the news from the Middle East gets distorted on its way to the public, the Israeli media’s acceptance of the version in which their soldiers killed Muhammed al Durah goes a long way to illuminating the problems.
We therefore welcome readers who have observations and thoughts to offer on this phenomenon, either in the way of personal recollections of how the news hit Israelis, and on how the Israeli media and government circles handled the issue. We will post appropriate material as it comes in.
I have addressed this issue at my blog on an ongoing basis. Here are some of the most salient posts: