I’m a little OT today.
Richard Landes, who is a professor of history, particularly millennialism, at Boston University wrote recently at his blog The Augean Stables on the phenomenon of lethal narratives in the reporting of the conflicts between Israel and her neighbors, particularly the Palestinians in a post Poison in the Middle East Conflict. Richard seems to have been touched off in this case by two cartoons by Chappatte, which you can find at the top of his post or at Chappette’s website.
Landes, in my opinion, though his research and scholarship are impeccable, can be a little touchy about these sorts of things, understandably being a Jew, and deeply concerned about how Jews, Jewishness and Israel are portrayed in the media [meaning often neither fairly nor accurately]. Personally I found the first cartoon which referenced the [absurd] allegation that Yasser Arafat was poisoned with Polonium by Israel [“we have found traces of poison… in the Israeli Palastinian relationship”] ironic, but not particularly lethal. The second cartoon, which referenced the talks between Hamas and Fatah, I found a bit of an eye-roller, neither funny, nor instructive in any way. I didn’t find either of them particularly malicious, though Landes took some umbrage at Chappette over them.
Landes proceeds to elaborate on the nature of lethal narratives within the context of the Israel Palestinian conflict, most notably the Al Durah Affair, one of the seminal events of the Second [Al Aqsa] Intifada. Landes has made a formal investigation of the circumstances of the September 30, 2000 death of Muhammed Al Durah and subsequent media depictions which he describes as, “The first blood libel of the 21st century,” at his more scholarly website The Second Draft. Which, by the way, if you think you know anything about what happened during the Second Infitada, have never heard the term Pallywood, or accept at face value anything coming out of the main stream news media from that part of the world you need to check out The Second Draft.
On any other day I would have followed the topic more closely as Landes continued [my bold].
The most powerful lethal narrative, the Muhammad al Durah story, was a nuclear bomb of cognitive warfare. It aroused Muslims throughout the world; it filled Israelis with horror and sapped their ability to defend themselves against accusations; and it thrilled various groups, primarily Europeans and Leftists, who saw it as a “get-out-of-holocaust-guilt-free” card, which freed them from any commitment to be fair to Israel.
However, the “’get-out-of-holocaust-guilt-free’ card” bit nearly tipped me out of my chair laughing. I commented:
I absolutely loved your, “’get-out-of-holocaust-guilt-free’ card…” comment – I would pay for the copyright to that one – and so true.