The Guardian Posts Another Misleading Photograph

This is a guest post by AKUS

There is an article by Carlo Strenger on CiF, April 15th, 2010 which appears to continue the trend we have seen of posting misleading photographs:

“Alert reader” SantaMoniker picked up a few problems with this picture and its caption:

Here’s an interesting “rebuttal” directed at SantaMoniker by a CiF habitué:


Who cares if it’s the truth, indeed? “Objectively” it’s the truth, as alert reader SantaMoniker pointed out:

As long as it can be used to condemn Israel – like the Al Durrah affair, the Goldstone report, an article by Rachel Shabi, Ben White or Seth Freedman etc. etc. etc. – it’s the truth.

Actually, there are several things that may be wrong with this picture, and I would be interested to see a response from the Guardian (fat chance!) and Associated Press.

First, it is clear that the image in the background is the Dome of the Rock, not Al Aqsa – the slanted walls shown are a perspective view are due to the octagonal structure of the Dome, whereas Al Aqsa has a straight front due to its rectangular structure. Moreover, the color of the building in the background is clearly intended to indicate the famous golden color of the Dome.

So the caption reading “An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man pauses in front of the al-Aqsa mosque, on the site known by Jews as Temple Mount. Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP” is simply wrong if we are expected to believe the man is looking at Al Aqsa, or is intended to indicate that the photo was taken by Armangue from in front of Al Aqsa pointing his camera towards the Dome and the man was standing between Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, looking towards the latter.

In fact, as alert reader SantaMoniker points out the only way this image could have been made (and I will fill in for her here – “assuming that this is not simply a Photoshop combination of two images”) would have been either:

1. to photograph the man from one of the buildings surrounding the square in front of the Temple Mount, probably as he stood in the Jewish Quarter – because, as she said – no Ultra-Orthodox Jew would ever go onto the Temple Mount – the Rabbis have prohibited it; or

2. someone dressed up as an Orthodox Jew was planted there to make the picture

This may seem to the “gondwanaland”s of the world and CiF’s editors a trivial matter. However, there are few more inflammatory spaces in the world than the Temple Mount, and the only thing more inflammatory than that is the idea held among Moslems propagandists that the Jews are planning to destroy Al Aqsa.

The use of a photograph like this, especially if it turns out to be faked or its caption erroneous is highly inflammatory.

But it’s not the first time we’ve seen this sort of thing. The use of faked photos and photos has been a staple of Palestinian propaganda, and this is only the latest, and possible the most outrageous, of images in the Guardian deliberately placed to mislead, such as the infamous picture of Arabs walking past the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

There’s a word for it, and that word is “Pallywood”.

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