Friday, January 9, 2009

Past Performance breeds a cynic...

Morbid?..HELL YES. This is the photograph that The Guardian chose to use in support of the United Nations warning Israel about war crimes. The caption underneath the photo reads thus:

The body of a girl who was found in the rubble of her destroyed house following an Israeli air strike on a house in Zeitoun Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
Can we trust The Guardian to be delivering hard news without agenda driven opinion. Of course not. They are unapologetically leftist and if they bent any further towards favoring Hamas, they would require a lumbar fusion with fixation.

For example...who took the photograph?

Mohammed Abed took it.

Who is Mohammed Abed?

He is the same individual who took this photograph with the following caption.

Palestinian guerilla fighters prepare a homemade bomb in Rafah refugee camp south of the Gaza Strip. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)(h/t Backspin)
That's some pretty good access Mr. Abed has as a lowly AFP stringer. Why, those high school kids working on their science project didn't even hear him sneak up and snap the pic...

And, where do you suppose Mr. Abed's personal opinions on the conflict reside?

VERJEE (voice-over): He's looking at a breathtaking image he's just made where the whole Muslim world is represented. But Palestinian photographer Mohammed Abed is between two worlds. Here in Mecca he's both journalist and pilgrim. His life and livelihood is Gaza. He says he's had enough.

MOHAMMED ABED, PHOTOGRAPHER: I need to change my mood. Every time I shoot the blood, it stretches between Israeli and Arab and Palestinian and Gaza. Ok, I should be upset but this makes a problem for me in my mind, in my emotions you know.

VERJEE: He's emotional in Mecca, too, he says. But the difference is he's anxious to cover this story and be a part of it.

ABED: I saw millions of people going around the Kaaba with the same clothes, the same chants, men and women together. It stopped me in my tracks, he says. Seeing the people circling the Kaaba really moved me. He says he was so awestruck at first, he couldn't even shoot. When he finally did, his pictures of the Kaaba ended up in the paper.

VERJEE: Out on the streets and on the marble of the grand mosque, Mohammed aims his camera at the faces he rarely gets to shoot. Like this old man. Or these women who wanted to pose. But it's not all smooth outside the grand mosque. He runs into police, ever-ready to pounce on photographers who aren't allowed near the Kaaba. A few feet away, he sees fellow Palestinians.


VERJEE: Taking pictures of them makes him smile. The holiest day of the hajj pilgrimage is day two, the day of Arafat. Mohammed puts down his camera and utters a silent prayer alongside almost 3 million Muslims. He has a special plea.

ABED: I want to pray to the Palestinian people to finish the occupation and finish the clashes with Israel. This is the important thing I like.

VERJEE: Mohammed tries to cleanse his spirit here and erase the images of loss and pain in Gaza and replace them with this.
Well, he's a Palestinian, and "his life and livelihood is Gaza" according to the transcription of a CNN report of haj back in 2007. He freely admits that when he shoots "the blood" it stretches between Israeli and Arab and Palestinian and Gaza. I assume that this is an interpretation suggesting the opposite of coming together. Regardless, it's hard to believe that the photographer isn't a bit more invested in the story for a particular participant rather than a non-bias observer.

Is the child in The Guardian's photograph really dead?

I won't take Mr. Abed's or The Guardian's word on that. The AFP has a history of agenda drive photo staging (h/t Jawa Report). If the child is really dead, should we take The Guardian's or Mr. Abed's word that the Israelis were responsible? Neither hold any credibility based on past performance and behavior. So even if The Guardian's story and Mr. Abed's photograph are legitimately represented...they have compromised the effort in the past.

So, again...I am forced to look at the photograph at the top of the the accompanying article...and conclude that "I DON'T BELIEVE A WORD OF IT..." Mohammed Abed, The Guardian, and the AFP have, really, given me no choice in the matter...