The Photojournalist As A Victim Of Ideology

The New York Times Sunday Magazine joins the game of re-writing the war. The New York Times efforts – through the use of its correspondents and pundits, to obfuscate and outright distort this latest Israeli initiated and unnecessary mass slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza (with over 550 documented deaths of children alone, a war crime for which the entire Israeli political establishment should be held accountable and prosecuted if something such as ‘international law’ was real and concrete), are well-known and well document. (See and more).

Now the magazine also gets into the game, sending two talented by voiceless photographers to the region, to create an absolutely false ‘balance’ between 2000 actual dead, 100,000 or more actually displaced, entire neighborhoods erased, infrastructure destroyed and the ‘..tension, sorrow and, at moments, great alarm.’ of the Israelis.

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This would be laughable, and this photographic work merely decorative, if it were not so dangerous and so apologetic of war crimes, and crimes against humanity. In fact, the sheer hideousness of this piece, and the way the images are arranged, is belied in a little graphic on the page itself that shows a ‘before / after’ slider that shows you the destruction inflicted in Gaza and on Israel. The slider moves unchanged over Israeli territory regardless of how closely you try to look, while revealing the massive devastation in Gaza. In complete denial and dismissal of the facts in front of them, the writer paints a false equivalence. And worse, repeatedly lies about the conflict, who started it, for what reasons and to what aim.

This is a great example of good photography cut loose of all meaning and context becoming a grand tool of crass lies and state propaganda. The ideological roots of The New York Times, the mindless, senseless, immoral allegiance to a criminal political entity that is today’s Israel being revealed clear and open. Thousands are dead on one side of the border, but this magazine considers the ‘tension’ on the Israeli side to be something worth of being given equal treatment. This is a classic example of how images of violence and war – of body and victims, deny us understanding because they deny us context, and history. As Didier Fassin argued in his work Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present (Page 220) that:

Images have real world implications: to this extent, the subjectivation is political. But one needs also to consider the restrictions imposed by a testimony that reduces violence to trauma and the subject to victim. What is not said about the historical situations in which death and sufferings are set when the focus is placed entirely on the simple fact of dying or suffering? And how much of the intelligibility of the conflict is obscured at the moment when one speaks of the trauma and the victims? These are question one must ask about humanitarian testimony on violence in conflict. And the answer may be that what is lost in this translation – through which the humanitarian witness claims the position of the ancient histor – is, precisely, history.”

This is propaganda reporting pure and simple. And the photographers continue to be victims of its aims. While remaining silent in the face of its obviousness.

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