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CNN’s Pallywood Gaffe

Did the network stage a heartrending scene in a Gaza hospital?

by
Richard Landes

Bio

January 9, 2009 - 12:05 am

On Thursday morning CNN ran a heartrending story:

At a Gaza hospital, doctors tried to revive a 12-year-old victim of the violence, but their efforts were in vain. Mahmoud died.

Recording the tragedy at the hospital was his brother, freelance cameraman Ashraf Mashharawi.

Just a short time earlier, Mashharawi had been filming other, less personal images of the war — scenes like incoming missiles and the damage they do. Then, he got a phone call. Mashharawi was told the family home had been hit by a rocket.

His brother, Mahmoud and his 14-year-old cousin Ahmad, had been allowed to play on the roof after days of being cooped up inside as Israel continued its assault on Gaza.

Both boys died after the rocket hit.

Along with the story, CNN ran an even more heartrending video of the cameraman’s footage.

However, the footage seems to be fake. A medical doctor commented at the indispensable Little Green Footballs:

I’m no military expert, but I am a doctor, and this video is bullsh-t. The chest compressions that were being performed at the beginning of this video were absolutely, positively fake. The large man in the white coat was NOT performing CPR on that child. He was just sort of tapping on the child’s sternum a little bit with his fingers. You can’t make blood flow like that. Furthermore, there’s no point in doing chest compressions if you’re not also ventilating the patient somehow. In this video, I can’t tell for sure if the patient has an endotracheal tube in place, but you can see that there is nobody bag-ventilating him (a bag is actually hanging by the head of the bed), and there is no ventilator attached to the patient. In a hospital, during a code on a ventilated patient, somebody would probably be bagging the patient during the chest compressions. And they also would have moved the bed away from the wall, so that somebody could get back there to incubate the patient and/or bag him. In short, the “resuscitation scene” at the beginning is fake, and it’s a pretty lame fake at that.

So the question is: were they re-enacting the resuscitation scene by repeating their actions on a corpse because the child had died earlier? It’s likely that the answer is no and that child is still alive and just an actor pretending to be a child who was killed.

Why do I say that? Because the big guy in the white coat — if he’s really a doctor, nurse, nurse’s aid, EMT, or any sort of health care provider at all — would be entirely aware that tickling the boy’s sternum doesn’t really look like actual chest compressions. If the boy were dead, the man would have done a more convincing job of compressing the chest. The taps on the chest that he’s doing are the sort of thing you see in bad TV dramas, when you don’t want to make the poor actor playing the victim uncomfortable by really pushing on his chest. I think the man in the white coat knows this child is actually alive and is making the simulated chest compressions gentle so as not to hurt the child. My guess is that he assumed the videographer, like those on better TV shows, would have been smart enough not to film as far down as the man’s hands on the chest.

CNN has now taken down the video but left the story up. England’s Channel 4 has a similar story, also emphasizing the pathos of the affair:

Despite his own family tragedy Ashraf Mashharawi managed to send us the images surrounding his brother’s death and the impact on his family.

The family were keen that the story of what happened to them today should be told.

This incident deserves close attention. Like the Gaza Beach tragedy, which the Palestinians turned into a Pallywood extravaganza by blaming Israel for a Palestinian “mistake,” this one has many of the usual suspects:

  • The Palestinian child who plays a part in the tragedy “for the camera.”
  • The Palestinian cameraman who “with his little camera has a humanitarian message for the whole world” — his excuse for exploiting grief and making propaganda out of tragedy.
  • The Western “volunteer” there to help the beleaguered Palestinian people. Then it was “military expert Mark Garlasco.” Here it’s Norwegian radical and occasional doctor, Mads Gilbert. Gilbert is a radical Marxist (there still are some!) who thinks the U.S. deserved 9/11 and who has spent many hours telling reporters what a disgusting people the Israelis are.
  • The Western media, ever eager to have its heart-rending story of Israeli cruelty and Palestinian suffering. When caught making an error, it quietly removes the problem without admitting the error.

If indeed this is a false story (and that remains to be seen despite the strong argument that it is) it tells us, above all, about how radically unreliable our information is from Gaza. Here we have a European doctor engaged in staging a scene for the camera. As with the scenes from Netzarim Junction on September 30, 2000, we’re dealing with a public secret: staging is permissible.

All of our statistics and stories about what’s happening in Gaza come from Palestinian sources and NGOs/UN personnel. Many who might discount Palestinian sources nonetheless credit the UN spokespeople and NGOs. In my viewing of the coverage, I’m struck by the Pallywood-style editing we are presented: no long shots, almost every sequence is less than three seconds, and it’s impossible to see whether the person is genuinely injured (e.g., many with no sign of blood). I am not denying that there are dead and wounded, but it may be that the numbers are significantly less that we are told.

Some have argued that it’s a good thing that the MSM has not made it into Gaza. I’m not so sure. Although I think the Western media is exceptionally badly behaved — an Augean Stables of bad habits — it’s not as wretched as the full-bodied weaponized mode of the Palestinian and Arab media. There is a difference between dupes and demopaths. I think had they been there, it’s very likely that a fair amount of the open faking that goes on might not happen so openly. Perhaps some among the swarm of Western reporters  would have the courage to say “this is loony.”

And loony it is: the Western news media serve as the major battalion for Hamas in their battle with an Israel they cannot hope to defeat militarily. Alas, they serve a master who desires their destruction every bit as much as they desire the destruction of the Jews.

Richard Landes is a Professor at Boston University in history. He has just come out with two books: Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience and The Paranoid Apocalypse: A Hundred-Year Retrospective on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He blogs at The Augean Stables.
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