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Viral images signal failure on both sides of the conflict

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November 24, 2016 23:17

The picture of an IDF soldier holding a rifle is a reassuring one for Jewish Israelis and many diaspora Jews as well.

It's an image that resonates in the minds of those who know that after 2,000 years in which Jews were vulnerable, they now have their own army protecting their own homeland.

For Palestinians and supporters of their national struggle around the world, the picture of a boy throwing a stone at an IDF soldier is no less inspiring. It proves to them that despite the Palestinians being on the losing side of the regional conflict for the past 67 years, another generation still has a fighting spirit that cannot be repressed.

The furore over the scenes near the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh last Friday attest to the power of these conflicting visions, but also to their limitations.

The photographs of an anonymous Golani Brigade soldier grappling with 11-year-old Mohammed Tamimi last week were perfect fodder for the international media.

Tamimi had been identified by a surveillance team throwing stones as part of the weekly demonstration outside Nabi Saleh. A photographer captured the scene as he was held in a headlock by the IDF soldier, and as his sisters and mother arrived to set him free.

In many ways, the narrative offered by the photographs was contradictory. The soldier was trying to hold on to his rifle and the boy while simultaneously keeping his balance on the slope, representing both overwhelming force and the inadequacy of that force to contend with the situation at hand.

And while the actions of the other Tamimi children and mother created a perfect series of shots for newsrooms around the world, the fact that similar images have been popping up with depressing regularity ever since the start of the first intifada is proof that while they may have brought the Palestinians sympathy, they have garnered them little else in nearly three decades.

The Tamimis, like some other families in other Palestinian villages, have become skilled at creating these tableaus on camera. But that is essentially a diversion from the real issues. Just because news agencies send their photographers to a few weekly flash-points where they can be assured of the desired action shots does not change the fact that dozens of similar confrontations are taking place every day.

Media-savvy groups on both sides make their livings from simultaneously manufacturing and debunking these scenes.

Ultimately, the images count for little when the reality remains that two nations of real people are locked in a mutually degrading and brutalising struggle.

November 24, 2016 23:17

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