The “public secret” of Middle East Journalism

During my whirlwind tour of Israel this past summer I had the great good fortune of meeting Boston University Professor Richard Landes. Professor Landes has doggedly sought the exposure of fraudulent journalism out of the Middle East. He has pursued his quarry both at Second Draft (where he has specialized in Pallywood and the staged Al Dura affair) and at Augean Stables. Pajamas Media has now posted his excellent column summarizing the pervasive evidence of staging in the case of Al Dura and the reaction of France 2, the organ responsible for broadcasting the production.
JOHN adds: I would urge our readers to read Landes’s article with care, because it has implications far beyond the Al Dura case. First, Landes argues that western journalists are widely aware of the fact that much of the Palestinian video footage that comes to them is staged, but they prefer that their own consumers in the West not be in on the “secret.” Second, Landes notes that the Islamic Mass Media Charter, which sets out a code of ethics for Muslim journalists, implicitly encourages false reporting by establishing, as principles of journalism, the twin obligations to “censor all materials” where necessary to protect the umma, and to “[t]o combat Zionism and its colonialist policy of creating settlements as well as its ruthless suppression of the Palestinian people.”
The point I would make is this: the impulse that leads Palestinian stringers to produce staged or fake “evidence” is hardly unique to the Muslim world. Landes quotes the cameraman who took the staged Al Dura footage:

When Talal abu Rahmah received an award for his footage of Muhammad al Dura in Morocco in 2001, he told a reporter,


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