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About That So-Called ‘Pallywood’ Video…

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This is in response to a couple of other Pages posted regarding film footage of this week’s Israeli air strikes in Gaza, both of which questioned the authenticity of several BBC video clips that at least one Israeli blog & one far-right Israeli news outlet are presenting as “Pallywood” productions.

“Don’t give anyone your eyes.” —ProverbWhile I don’t deny that there have been numerous cases of staged or distorted videos, not to mention photoshopped images, it’s a mistake to take the default position that nearly everything coming out of Gaza (or the West Bank) is distorted without having sufficient proof of that being the case. Why? Because it’s dehumanizing. To be frank, I don’t give a damn if someone has a good reason for being cynical—just because something is understandable doesn’t make it okay. There have been many, many cases of women who have lied about being raped; does that make it okay to assume by default that all or even most women who claim to have been raped are lying? Of course not, no decent, rational person would think such a thing.

A wise man by the name of Bob Levin once relayed to me a (Jewish?) proverb that I’m going to paraphrase here: Don’t give anyone your eyes. Truer words were never spoken. Never, EVER let others tell you what you’re seeing.

So while this may be too long & boring for many of you, I want to make a point by illustrating just how easily our eyes can be deceived, by both our personal biases & preconceived notions and by the speed at which visual information flies by, causing us to miss many subtle details.

Moving right along, the two Pages I mentioned that prompted this response were:

Miraculous Recovery by Injured Gaza Man? - Posted on 11/15 by Daniel. You’ll find my initial objections there.

If Israel is Defending itself, you can be Sure Pallywood has Mobilized - Posted on 11/16 by Sliv. I didn’t voice any objections to his Page as I decided to do so by creating my own detailed response here. Additionally, Charles did a perfect job of voicing exactly what I was thinking as well as pointing out why Aussie Dave of the the israellycool blog is persona non grata here and not considered a reliable source.

With all of this in mind, I decided to sit down and spend a few hours going through the relevant clips in the BBC video frame by frame, grabbing screenshots and annotating them as I went. My conclusions follow.

Claims of Injuries

No one who posted video clips about this incident referenced any Palestinian periodical, blog, or person who claimed that any particular individual in any of the clips had specific injuries, though the actions of the people in the videos do seem to clearly indicate that they were indeed injured, albeit obviously not critically.

The Clips and Their Sequence

Apart from the first clip, it was basically impossible to be 100% certain about the sequence of the five clips in question, which are from this BBC video on YouTube.

The clips I reviewed were actually only about a minute total (from about 01:53 to 02:51 in the timeline). Yes, it took hours to review just under one minute’s worth: 25 fps x 60 sec = 1,500 frames. Add to that scrubbing back & forth through the timeline, looking for identifying details, making notes, extracting the separate clips to their own QuickTime movies, then doing screengrabs of important frames and annotating them. And now writing this.

As I said previously, with the exception of the first one the sequence of the clips remains unestablished, though I do make a best guess towards the end of this Page. I removed the audio from all of the clips as the anchor’s voice-over was nothing but a distraction that doesn’t clarify the timeline or mention injuries of the people seen.

I have provided QuickTime movie versions of each clip so you can scrub through the timelines yourself and verify what I’ve posted, should you be inclined to do so. In order to see the frame count simply click on the time indicator and change it from “Standard” to “Frame Number” (screenshot). You can navigate through the frames one-by-one using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Clip 1 - Approx. 18 Seconds, 457 Frames

This is the opening clip (around 01:53 in the original YouTube video). I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to assume that this was probably the first clip as it shows the cameraman’s approach to the scene. I say this because some people show up in more than once clip and it was clearly all part of the same event in the same neighborhood.

Based on this clip and the others I was also able to gauge that all the emergency vehicles were facing the site of the explosion/fire, with the closest one appearing to be approximately half a football field or so away from it.

Key Scenes:

Frame #1: Approaching the scene of the Israeli air strike.

Frame #237: The cameraman slows down and takes cover behind emergency vehicle.

Frame #284: The cameraman cautiously looks around side of vehicle’s back door. Here we have the first appearance of tan jacket guy.

Frame #323: Tan jacket guy flags down cameraman signalling him to follow. Here we have the first appearance of green shirt guy.

Frame #353: Cameraman follows tan jacket guy & green shirt guy towards fire.

Frame #407: Cameraman still following Palestinian guys. Green shirt guy appears to change his mind and turns to walk back away from the fire.

Frame #445: Green shirt guy is almost out of view. Tan jacket guy is still heading towards fire.

Frame #457: Green shirt guy is gone from view. Tan jacket guy is still heading towards fire. End of clip.

Clip 1 QuickTime movie

Clip 2 - Approx. 10 Seconds, 267 Frames

Tan jacket guy reappears here, ostensibly injured or at least temporarily knocked senseless. Green shirt guy (who was wise enough to head AWAY from the trouble in the last clip) also reappears to help.

Key Scenes:

Frame #1: Tan jacket guy being lifted from ground by green shirt guy & others. He appears to be unconscious & slack-jawed.

Frame #22: We see that tan jacket guy has a shoe on his right foot.

Frame #66: Tan jacket guy appears to regain consciousness; looks like he’s yelling.

Frame #79: We see that tan jacket guy is missing his left shoe and the sole of his foot is covered with dirt. I point this out because it strikes me as rather odd that in a scene people are claiming to be staged, the actors would bother with such a tiny detail, yet overlook the numerous appearances in the other clips of tan jacket guy looking uninjured.

In the video you can see that even after he’s come to, his arms are still flopping around like wet noodles and the half dozen or so guys carrying him are having a hard time holding on as he’s pretty hefty and appears to be dead weight.

Note that he is clearly being carried AWAY from the fire back towards the emergency vehicles in this clip, and he’s on the vehicles’ LEFT side. In clip 1 he’s walking TOWARDS the fire and away from the emergency vehicles and is on the vehicles’ RIGHT side.

Clip 2 QuickTime movie

Clip 3 - Approx. 13 Seconds, 337 Frames

I didn’t bother taking any screenshots of this one as the idea that it was staged struck me as absurd. The only reason I’m pointing it out is because some yahoo at the isreallycool blog claimed that tan jacket guy “may have a co-star in Reflective Vest Man”. The guy in the reflective vest—who it seems to me (based on his attire) is pretty clearly a first responder, probably a firefighter—is being carried away from the fire to the emergency vehicles by another guy in identical attire.

Neither man seems to be either playing to or avoiding the camera at any point. Why “fake” an injury if you know the camera is going to show that you can stand on your own? It doesn’t make sense. I mean, the guy is a first responder coming from a FIRE in what is probably a bombed out building, how do we know he didn’t sprain an ankle bad enough to be unable to walk back on his own? Hell, he could also have a broken foot, been burned, or suffered an internal injury we can’t see. It was stupid to question this clip.

The only notable thing about it is the absence of civilians milling about in the street even though the two men appear to be fairly close to the scene of the bombing.

Clip 3 QuickTime movie

Clip 4 - Approx. 11 Seconds, 292 Frames

More snark from the israellycool blog (seems that israellyasshole would’ve been a more suitable name) where a commenter claims there are “three boys dressed up as women”. They might want to consider picking on someone besides teenage girls, FFS.

Key Scenes:

Frame #48: Hijabi girl #1 and #2 both exhibit female curves & proportions and have very feminine hands.

Frame #66: Green hoodie teen’s hand is sort of feminine, but still difficult to determine gender.

Frame #115: Hijabi girl #1 has a clearly feminine face.

Frame #205: Tan jacket guy makes yet another appearance. He’s looking towards the fire (the girls are running away from it), but walks away from it. He’s back up by the emergency vehicles, however he’s on their LEFT as he was in clip 2 (where he was knocked out) rather than on the RIGHT as he was in clip 1 (where he initially flagged down the cameraman).

How does this clip fit into the sequence of events? Did the cameraman follow him all the way down towards the fire (staying on the vehicles’ right side, as in clip 1), then film him being carried AWAY from the fire (this time staying on the vehicles’ left side) after he’d been knocked out? If so, why didn’t he also film whatever laid him out?

Clip 4 QuickTime movie

Clip 5 - Approx. 3 Seconds, 87 Frames

I’m posting this last short clip because of a comment sliv_the_eli made yesterday in reply to Charles in which he said, in part (emphasis mine):

If it helps, I suggest, looking at the footage again. After the individual in the tan jacket is shown walking around on his own at approx. 2:45 of the clip, keep watching the background, when he picks up what looks like a pole of some sort and is angrily waving it. That is not, to my knowledge, how a person injured in a military strike walks, moves or otherwise is able to carry himself.

If you see something different, or if I am missing something, please enlighten me. I am not unwilling to admit a mistake if it can be shown that I have don [sic] so.

Sliv, if you happen to come across this, you’re the one who needs to look at the footage again because there’s some serious confirmation bias involved in what your eyes are seeing versus what is actually there.

Key Scenes:

Frame #2: Tan jacket guy picks up pipe/pole from street.

Frame #42: Tan jacket guy raises pipe/pole.

Frame #45: Tan jacket guy tosses pipe/pole of to side, out of people’s way.

Frame #48: Pipe/pole continues sailing out of view.

Frame #52: Tan jacket guy continues towards fire, disappears from view.

What an asshole, huh? Shame on him for pulling that good Samaritan crap!

Clip 5 QuickTime movie

Conclusion

My best guess is that the actual sequence of events was clip 1 (arrival), clip 5 (tan jacket guy approaching fire and throwing pipe/pole), clip 2 (tan jacket guy being rescued), and finally clip 4 (tan jacket guy recovered and heading away from scene).

Another thing that supports the idea of clip 4 following clip 2 is something I noticed just a few minutes ago: the presence of “grey shirt guy” in two clips. In clip 2 frame #141 he’s one of the men carrying tan jacket guy. In clip 4 frame #214 we see him walking past tan jacket guy (who has recovered) and hijabi girl #1, then in clip 4 frame #292 we see him standing behind tan jacket guy looking at whatever the rest of the people are looking at.

There’s a snag though—where did green shirt guy go? Remember, he was also one of the men carrying tan jacket guy and we saw him walking away from the scene in clip 1. That one leaves me stumped.

I have no idea where clip 3 fits in (the one with the first responder guy being carried across the other guy’s shoulders).

So there we have it. What exactly do we have? Well, nothing really—no smoking gun, no definitive proof of staging or fakery, nor is there proof that there wasn’t staging or fakery. I can say this with confidence after spending hours reviewing each & every frame. Can anyone here claiming who has questioned the video do the same? If so, speak up. If not then you might want to consider not jumping to conclusions so fast in the future.

You know what? If the cynics & haters out there want to sneer in contempt at every photo & film clip and believe the worst about people just because they’re Palestinian Arabs, then they can kiss my ass because there’s a word for that—bigotry. Likewise if there are people out there who want to sneer in contempt at every photo & film clip and believe the worst about people just because they’re Israeli Jews, they can also kiss my ass and shove their damned bigotry where the sun never shines. I am sick and tired of the mutual hate. I don’t care anymore why you’re so pissed at each other or who started it… Go right ahead and keep killing and maiming and hating each other until Judgment Day. I. Am. Sick. Of. The. Whole. Damned. Mess. You don’t like me anymore for saying that? Tough shit, we’ll both get over it.1

I fully intend to continue giving people the benefit of the doubt on an individual basis until they prove that they don’t deserve to be trusted. If some of you guys aren’t going to give a second thought to posting the bogus crap that gets vomited out of the bowels of the internet by haters, then expect to be challenged.

Oh, one last thing: Since someone is almost certain to bring it up, yes, I would also challenge a video that claimed Israelis had staged something to gain sympathy if there were no obvious proof of that being the case.

Now I’m off to enjoy what’s left of my Saturday as this Page is bound to be irresistible bait to all the little wingnut stealth down-dingers who hide in the shadows. Knock yourselves out—I’ll try not to cry myself to sleep tonight over your displeasure, kthxbai! ;-D

1. Disclaimer: My strong feelings on this matter aren’t aimed at any specific LGF members, they are general. I mentioned Daniel & Sliv in this post because they created the Pages I referenced.

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 Frank says:

Remember there's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over.