Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What is truth?

The Second Draft, producer of Pallywood, has a new movie called the Birth of an Icon, which examines the circumstances surrounding the alleged shooting, by Israelis, of Muhamed al Durah and his father Jamal at Netzarim Junction. Dhimmi watch reproduced the original introduction to the movie from Second Draft in a post dated December 16, 2005, which described both the background and the Birth of an Icon's intent.

Who can forget the image of Muhamed al Durah, gunned down in a "hail of Israeli bullets" at the very beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada? The impact of this dramatic footage on global culture is close to incalculable. It is one of “the most powerful images of the past 50 years,” one of the shaping images of this young 21st century. ...

it constitutes one of the greatest media manipulations in modern media history: a lie that has killed many and a shameful MSM cover-up. And therefore, correcting it offers a critrical starting point for both media reform and a reformulation of how we think about the Arab-Israeli conflict. ...

Second Draft, which has already posted raw footage from that day, now offers citizens of cyberspace a look at the available evidence specifically about Al Durah, and, as with Pallywood, analyses of the media’s “first draft” of this story.

The issue of who killed the Palestinian boy, if indeed he was killed, continues to be debated to this day, as the comments on Dhimmi Watch show. The producer, Richard Landes, approaches the subject in the manner of a documentarist unraveling a mystery. For example, Landes asserts that five scenarios are possible in the context of the raw footage

  • Israel on purpose;
  • Israel by accident
  • Palestinians by accident;
  • Palestinians on purpose;
  • Staged

Israpundit, however, didn't like it, principally because Birth of an Icon didn't set out to debunk what Israpundit thought was an open and shut lie in the service of Palestinian propaganda.

Second Draft should make the charge first to provoke maximum interest and then go on to prove it. It should not ask a question. It should start with an assertion it wants everyone to accept. "The French colluded with the PA to produce the biggest blood libel of the twenty first century with disasterous effect."

Too wimpy. But Second Draft is unrepentant. In the current preface to the movie it says, "We put the evidence before you and the five possible scenarios with arguments for and against. Judge for yourself." Now it's entirely possible that Israpundit is right about the conclusion and yet for Second Draft to be right about the process. For example, odechadangloblog thinks Landes has proved that "the 'killing' of Mohammed Al-Dura was faked by a Palestinian cameraman working for France 2, who are still trying to cover it up. See with your own eyes." Curiously enough, Landes himself, in his debate with Israpundit, didn't think the boy was even killed! "I don't think he was killed", and offers this bit of evidence: "no blood, he moves in take 6, the last take". That's also the view of Justify This! which notes "the boy being seen in unscreened footage covering his face and moving when he is supposedly dead".

Solomonia notes that the MSM has taken to covering the Second Draft project. MSM covers blogs; man bites dog. Unfortunately, the links to the MSM examples are all expired. However, a search on Google News turns up this link to Newswire, which covers the story in a very basic way.


One of history's most ancient questions, in fact the one asked by Pilate of Christ before his crucifixion, is "what is truth?". (John 18 37:38) Pilate turned away to address the crowd before hearing the answer, possibly convinced that one answer was as good as another, in what may have been the earliest recorded instance of post-modernism. And the truth according to Pilate, was that Christ was innocent, and therefore after a little slight of hand with Barabbas, liable to be turned over for execution.

The imperative to action, whether in mundane life or in life-and-death situations has forced humanity, from earliest times, to act as if it were certain even when it was tormented by questions. While both faith and skepticism require each other to exist, they are uneasy companions. Maybe that's why news items are called stories, because it is simply too hard to lay out events without a narrative, as if the facts themselves would vanish without a framework to hold them. One of the nice things about the blogosphere is that it comprises multiple stories and allows the contradiction to be endured: Israpundit articulates the need for action; and Richard Landes thinks he knows the truth, but is careful to preserve, in his garden of ideas, the bloom of doubt.


Blogger enscout said...

For anyone not living in denial about the current state of the world, the truth resonates clearly like a loud bell with perfect pitch.

As for the pundits, experts, pontificators, etc whom we should choose to just ignore - their numbers grow daily by the hundredfold.

12/21/2005 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Who do you trust more-- yourself, or some random person? By presenting the facts upfront, people are able to judge for themselves and, as the source of their decision is themselves, they will be much more confident of their conclusions.

12/21/2005 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

What bothers me is that there were many cameramen and reporters on the scene, of whom none tried to get to the bottom of this. An IDF investigation has concluded that the possible angles of fire made it impossible for them to accept the Jihadi narrative of events. I await the BBC, CBC, CBS, CNN, and the rest of them, to explain why they always accept Jihadi narratives at face value, and why no effort is made to verify or debunk them.

12/21/2005 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Solomon said...

Thanks for mentioning that post that links to a Boston Herald story on the original Second Draft release. I'd like to think it was a real breakthrough into the MSM, and it was, although the author, Jay Fitzgerald, is the opperator of Hub Blog and got it in really as a friendly gesture to a fellow blogger -- something he looks at himself as. Perhaps we'll see more of this as more people who self-describe as "bloggers" as a part of their identity move into the MSM.

BTW, I have a new interview with Landes here.

I think their approach is a sensible one, and one likely to at least get a few more people to take a real look at the evidence. An overly strident presentation would close more minds too quickly.

One of the clinchers for me was watching the boy move his hand and peek out at the camera, then put his hand back during the time that Enderlin said he couldn't show the footage because images of the boy in his "death throws" were too horrible.

12/21/2005 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

The mind of humanity is a house of mirrors in the mind of a psychotic. It will believe as it will because it wills it to be so. Such an imagination can rise to the exuberance of beauty or summon the very demons of industrious phobia.

Visualize Worled Peas.

12/21/2005 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

Systems of thought and reason are built on axioms. Axioms are the unprovable principles out of which the systems are built. Euclidean geometry, for example, has a handful of axioms on which very elegant geometry theorems and proofs are built. But if you change just one of the axioms--the parallel postulate--you get an entirely different geometry, what is called non-Euclidean geometry. It is radically different from what is produced by the set of axioms that includes the parallel postulate.

It seems to me that people have different axioms as well--unprovable truths--on which we build our lives. We are at war over these axioms. Too bad that for so long the great western cultural project has been to "challenge" the foundations of our system of thought. The result of this has been to weaken faith in our bedrock principles, including the principle that there is such a thing as truth to begin with, even if it is beyond our proving it.

In the end, to destroy all axioms is to end up with no geometry, no system of thought, but merely the expressing of urges.

12/21/2005 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Stuart, I'd say our systems of thought and reason are less built on axioms - which are more the end result of thinking - than on paradoxical or poetic aphorisms. Fundamental human truths - e.g. god is love - are paradoxical but that is precisely the reason we must put faith in truth and not deny its existence just because the truth emerges as the paradoxical question of how human love and language ever successfully transcend worldly conflicts. There's something mysterious about it, but indeed the truth is transcendent and must be respected or denied as such.

12/21/2005 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Whoa! Too big a question to get a thread going, never thought I'd see the day!

What is truth?

The way the ancient Upanishads put it was "Tat tvam asi" - that thou art.

It is a prayer to be one with the truth, the real truth, the ultimate reality.

Old news, as they say.

12/21/2005 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

In a rush and zeal, the MSM, "the west" and others who all had blood on their hands at the genocide committed on the jewish people WANTED to believe the arab's complaint that the jews were infact the new nazis...

blood libels are not new, however this is one of many attempts (most successful) to blacken the eye of israel/the jew. from the jenin massacre to mrs arafat and the jews poisoning the wells, this pattern is all to old...

Now things have changed... the palestinians are choosing war over peace publically, every opportunity they are being given they are squandering.

The artificial construct "palestinian" is mutating into what it really is/was... failed death cult...

but will the msm and the world ever say, no we were wrong? dont hold your breath..

12/21/2005 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

At this late date, five years after the fact, there is almost no conceivable evidence that could convince people to change their minds about this event. Anyone who cares about this event has made up their mind about it long ago. If al Dura were to come forward and admit the event was a hoax, or someone were to interview him, the Arab public would never believe it. If he's still alive, al Dura was 12 then and is 17 now. He wouldn't really look the same. If an Isreali were to come forward and say "Yeah I shot that kid," would I believe it? Maybe.

This is similar in some ways to the Tawana Brawley affair, the OJ Simpson and Michael Jackson Trials. Whether you believe their stories is affected a lot by your cultural background.

The fact is that there are un-knowables. Do we trust the media to inform us? Less and less each day. No one trusts them completely anyway.

We all believe what we want to believe.

12/21/2005 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Utopia Parkway:

At this late date, five years after the fact, there is almost no conceivable evidence that could convince people to change their minds about this event... The fact is that there are un-knowables. Do we trust the media to inform us? Less and less each day. No one trusts them completely anyway.

We all believe what we want to believe.

I agree. Most people have already made up their minds. I believe it was a faked. This is because of large gaps in filming and other things like the kid moving.
I remember the "Funeral Procession" where a "dead Martyr" is paraded through the crowd in an open box. As the funeral procession rounds a corner the "dead Martyr" gets up out of his box and walks a way.

There probably is a way to find out whether, al Dura is alive or dead. Who was the doctor who pronounced him dead? Where are the medical records? Where is his body buried (if so does the DNA match), and did his family actually get compensated for his martyrdom by some organization? I don't know all the methods to prove it but there must be some method.

12/22/2005 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger Barry Meislin said...

Another tidbit from the truth is what you wanna believe department.

From our friends in Egypt. Sigh.

12/22/2005 01:32:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

"One of history's most ancient questions, in fact the one asked by Pilate of Christ before his crucifixion, is "what is truth?". (John 18 37:38) Pilate turned away to address the crowd before hearing the answer, possibly convinced that one answer was as good as another, in what may have been the earliest recorded instance of post-modernism."

Like Pilate, many today rhetorically ask the question, knowing full well the answer but denying it. All the while, like Pilate, the Truth stands squarely before them, looking into their hearts.

Truth is a rare and precious commodity - nothing to be manipulated into somthing that suits today's pragmatists.

Trouble is, the devil - the deceiver - mixes truth with lies.

12/22/2005 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

I have previously posted here about this story directing bloggers attention to an article in Commentary written by a French women who happens to be Jewish. I think the article was in the magazine two editions ago.

I agree with Instapundit. This is not an undecided question open to interpretation. That is like arguing that the Tookie Williams conviction is an undecided question open to interpretation. The evidence is overwhelming that the entire incident, as well as many others, was manufactured and fed to a sympathetic western press by Palestinian propagandists. The same people who view Muhamed al Durah as an icon, view Islamic head-choppers as patriots. The evidence also seems clear that many in the press became aware of the deception, but went along anyway.

The whole thing disgusts me.

Many parts of the western press have a strong left bias that pervades their reporting and commentary. The bias and agenda-journalism are becoming obvious to many Americans and I think the result is evident in the decline of readership at some of Americas' flagship papers. It is also evident in recent studies by seemingly unaligned media watchdog groups. The pendulum has swung far-left, but it is on its way back.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

12/22/2005 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Powerline: Meet the New Boss, Take 2 – Yasser Abbas

Note for Clinton defenders: Yasser Arafat was the most frequent "Head of State" visitor to the Clinton White House, somehow Monica and the Republicans didn't slow that down, as we're supposed to believe it slowed down Clinton's handling of terrorism. (Of course, to believe that last line, you have to never read "The 9/11 Commission Report.")

12/22/2005 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Totally off-topic (except as it relates to "truth") - Google's Advanced Search allows you to select a timeframe, a classic feature in Info Retrieval systems. Funny thing about Google, it allows to go all the way back an entire year!

For example, try searching for quotes from Harry Reid re The Patriot Act in 2001. You can't get there from Google.

I would opine that Google is at least as slanted as the New York Times - what a pity.

12/22/2005 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger whit said...

I did not watch the video. Too big to download just now. A couple of years ago James Fallows did an extensive piece for Atlantic Monthly. He was skeptical of the story but inconclusive. He went to the site, watched the video, etc. but as I recalled he let the reader with only doubts. I have since developed doubts about Fallows.

12/22/2005 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger RCM said...

I would rather know the "truth," and be humbled by it, than not know it, and be humbled by that.

As andrew really is our responsibility and as such requires the effort to form honest conclusions.

12/22/2005 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger neo-neocon said...

Landes's site does not take a totally agnostic attitude on the subject of what happened in the al Durah incident. What he does it to present the evidence without pre-judging it, in order to enable the reader to judge it fairly.

In the end, his site presents fairly overwhelming evidence that there was Palestinian hanky-panky going on here, and that the French crew who were responsible for the dissemination of the videos were either complicit or at the very least negligent. Landes actually indicates as much.

See here for more.

12/22/2005 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Enscout, you might be right, but share with someone the 'story' that the One promised by Jesus HAS COME, and ...

You know, you're right! "For anyone not living in denial..." investigates His coming, accepts His credentials and begins a lifelong effort to 'live the life!'

12/23/2005 02:57:00 AM  

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