Re: Cameras for Gaza

From: Flick Harrison (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jan 14 2009 - 10:37:59 PST

I think the debate over objectivity of the media as a cultural
apparatus and the truth (or lack thereof) of images is a valid one.

But at a certain point, we-who-question-everything can stop with the
obscurantist mumbo-jumbo against objective reality itself, and we can
step through the curtain of spin / propaganda that seeks to
contextualize imagery in such a manner that one ideology or the other
takes advantage of particular images.

Witnessing is indeed a meaningful phenomenon. Otherwise, why would we
make photo-reproductions instead of poetry or music?

I agree with Chuck, and I'd challenge Fred on this.

"The Act of Seeing With One's Own Eyes," as it were, does change the
relationships between victims, attackers and bystanders. The
difference between a headline that reads "4 killed!" versus the visual
of the wailing infant or the distraught parent is a very real one in
terms of emotional impact. Those who hate violence (i.e. everyone who
is sane) need to experience the vicarious pain in order to empathize,
and images are a great way to do that. And anyone who, self-defense
or no, refuses to recognize the suffering of their own collateral
victims is certainly not interested in peace.

That being said, I do remember some J-school trivia: Newspapers that
publish images of dead local citizens' bodies receive numerous letters
of complaint, whereas images of dead foreigners rarely meet with the
same outrage. So maybe context can overwhelm, but I hope not

Unfortunately, the debate around Israel / Palestine has been
permanently framed as an ethnic / national conflict. But the dead
speak no language, and the screams of pain are a universal idiom.
Imagery reinforces that.

There are innocents, and there are combatants. Both populations talk
like their militants are protecting them - but in the end, a dead baby
is just a dead baby. If the Palestinians turned around and started
killing their own people, and the Israelis did likewise, the imagery
would look similar.

On both sides, justifiable retaliation or "acceptable collateral
damage" are used as talismans against critique. To attach images to
these phrases - dead children, crying parents, dead parents, crying
children - is to undermine the casual slaughter considerably.

Viva la cinema!


On 12-Jan-09, at 5:15 AM, marco poloni wrote:

> I'll try to keep my reply short to try to avoid an escalation which
> might be annoying to the rest of this community.
> My question as to whether this was the appropriate place to debate
> politics was a question to the community, not only to you. A handful
> of sensitive answers followed which bring good perspective.
> My response to you was an attempt to confront your arguments, which
> somehow had a totalitatian flavor to them. I am not particularly
> interested in engaging in a debate on Christian guilt and the media.
> What I'm after are facts: who are Hamas in relationship to Fatah,
> what are the hidden motives that help explain why Israel waging war
> now (c'mon it's not the rockets!)--the real stuff; stuff that is
> difficult to find on the media--, and images (eg. what can indie
> images do in times of war, how can images provide a deeper
> perspective than the illustrations we read in most media).
> In that sense I fully agree with your last argument.
> Marco
> -----Original Message-----
>> From: malgosia askanas <email suppressed>
>> Sent: Jan 11, 2009 12:09 PM
>> To: email suppressed
>> Subject: Re: Cameras for Gaza
>> I love it: first you question whether Frameworks is the right place
>> to debate politics, and then you follow it up with a provocative
>> reply to my post - to which, however, I am not supposed to reply (if
>> I want to be a good citizen) because Frameworks is not the right
>> place to debate politics. Oy, it's all smoke and mirrors.
>> And I also love the fact that you are attacking me for one-sidedness
>> and flawed arguments, but you are not impelled to make any such reply
>> to the people who emit idiotic one-liners, like "a replay of the
>> Warsaw ghetto". These are neither one-sided nor flawed?
>> And then you proceed to put things on my mouth - another hallowed
>> technique. No, I did NOT say anywhere that the entire 800 casualty
>> figure is a result of Hamas using human shields. Most of it is the
>> result of Israel doing what it has set out to do - striking back at
>> Hamas. And you know what? To say that "the weapons of Hamas are
>> the weapons of the poor", as if that qualified Hamas' actions for
>> some special dispensation and Israeli tolerance, is condescending
>> toward Hamas. And so is the "what do you really, really know about
>> Islam" argument. These kinds of "arguments", which are designed to
>> stir up the interlocutors' bad conscience and Christian guilt, are
>> only too ubiquitous in the discourse about this war. And, contrary
>> to what several of you have been implying, they are just as
>> ubiquitous and pervasive in the mainstream media as they are on this
>> list - after all, bad conscience and Christian guilt is precisely
>> what nourishes and sustains mainstream media these day.
>> Frameworks may not be the right place to debate politics, but it
>> definitely is the right place to debate the meaning and political
>> usage of images. This thread started with someone asking for
>> donations to send cameras to Gaza. In these days of routinely
>> staged and doctored images, is a "documentary" image really worth a
>> thousand words? What IS a "documentary" image worth - without
>> knowledge of the matter, without understanding and thought (all of
>> which require words) - other than as a tool to stir up a knee-jerk
>> reaction?
>> -m
>> Marco wrote:
>>> Wow, that's really one-sided, and with flawed arguments.
>>> First of all, a question to FRAMEWORKS: is this the right place to
>>> debate politics ???
>>> Second: Your point about 800 dead palestinians vs 14 israeli dead.
>>> Right. Are you somehow implying that those 800 died because Hamas
>>> used them as shields, maybe as a way to attract international media
>>> attention, and pity? What view you have of the ethical precepts of
>>> Islam? What do you really, really, know about Islam? I don't think
>>> your argument is admissible nor sustainable.
>>> I think that the ratio of 800 (of which 200 children?) vs 14 (only
>>> soldiers if I'm not mistaken) says what is what. A massacre is
>>> taking place before our lazy eyes. The rockets of Hamas are weapons
>>> of the poor, the only thing left to them to say that they exist and
>>> will resist Israeli's state massacre.
>>> I suggest that, before making empty claims about how to reach peace,
>>> you steer away for a while from whatever newspapers and news you
>>> read, and carefully examine facts, which are actually easily found
>>> on non-aligned internet sources than in American media.
>>> peace,
>>> marco
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: malgosia askanas <email suppressed>
>>>> Sent: Jan 10, 2009 3:24 PM
>>>> To: email suppressed
>>>> Subject: Re: Cameras for Gaza
>>>> Shelly Silver wrote:
>>>>> 800 palestinians dead
>>>>> 14 israelis dead
>>>> We truly live in a new world - where wars are required to be waged
>>>> in such a way as to make sure one's own casualties are comparable
>>>> to those of the enemy. Well, I propose that if Hamas doesn't like
>>>> these figures, they should agree to a real cease-fire, recognize
>>>> Israel's right to exist, and stop terrorrizing the Israeli
>>>> population. This would be a very hope-inspiring first step towards
>>>> an acual peace-process.
>>>> And if the Red Cross is "shocked" at civilian casualties, they
>>>> should carefully examine Hamas' own treatment of Palestinian
>>>> civilians - such as Hamas' practice of using homes and schools for
>>>> warehousing of weapons and launching of missiles, or their practice
>>>> of using civilians as living shields.
>>>> -m
>>>> __________________________________________________________________
>>>> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
>>> ------------------------------------------------
>>> Marco Poloni, Korsörer Strasse 1, D-10437 Berlin
>>> gsm +41.78.6322028, skype marcopoloni
>>> __________________________________________________________________
>>> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
>> __________________________________________________________________
>> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
> ------------------------------------------------
> Marco Poloni, Korsörer Strasse 1, D-10437 Berlin
> gsm +41.78.6322028, skype marcopoloni
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.