by Ari Lieberman
How a girl from Deir ez-Zor, Syria was miraculously beamed into Gaza.
Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, who identify as “Palestinians,” and those who shill for them have a penchant for fabricating and staging photos and videos in an effort to advance a pernicious and false narrative depicting Palestinians as innocent victims of brutal Israeli occupiers. Photos are often photoshopped or simply lifted from other war zones with no nexus to Israel. Sometimes, videos are the product of elaborate staging events geared specifically for the cameras; where alleged dead and wounded make miraculous off-camera recoveries. Often, this tactic is employed for the express purpose of soliciting donations. This disgraceful and dishonest practice has been dubbed “Pallywood.”
Last week, I was provided with a fascinating, firsthand look into the makings of a Pallywood production. A Twitter account called Free Gaza Team inexplicably followed me on the social media platform. I took a look at the account and saw multiple graphic photos of a young girl whose arm had been sheared off. The injury appears raw, exposing bone and tissue. The account referred to the Girl as “Noor from Gaza” and provided a link to an online crowd funding site called “Social.fund.” Once at the site, the viewer is again exposed to the disturbing image as well as the following brief narrative;
“Help Noor from Gaza get an artificial limb.
Free Gaza Team visits people in Gaza to help people get their needs, some days ago, we visit Noor's family, after the mother invited us to visit them, we find this little beauty girl, but unfortunately, she is without left limb, it's due a shrapnel of Israeli rockets in the last war on Gaza, shee [Sic] needs some essential medications before the gangrene happens then we will help her to get an artificial limb, we should work together to restore her smile.
Free Gaza Team.”
Aside from the atrocious grammar and spelling, the entire storyline seemed suspicious. If the incident had indeed occurred as reported by the Free Gaza Team, it would have been plastered in the front pages of the New York Times, the Guardian and Al-Jazeera as these publications are notoriously anti-Israel.
I then proceeded to perform a Google image search and Voilà, Noor’s image magically appeared. Unfortunately, this Noor wasn’t injured by Israeli rockets. In fact, she wasn’t even from Gaza. The girl advertised by the Free Gaza Team was in fact a Syrian child from Deir ez-Zor, injured as a result of airstrikes. The images of Noor had been circulating on social media for more than a year. When I pointed this out to the Free Gaza Team, they quite predictably unfollowed and blocked me. I immediately reported the scam to the Social Fund, which responded positively to my complaint and promptly terminated Free Gaza Team’s donation drive. Having been deprived of the Social Fund platform, the fraudsters of the Free Gaza Team opened another “charity drive” for “Noor,” this time on PayPal. I have since filed a complaint with PayPal as well.
In May 2017, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) featured a photo on its social media pages and website of what it described was an 11-year-old Gazan girl named Aya, pictured against the backdrop of strewn rubble and a destroyed building. UNRWA claimed that little Aya was the victim of a cruel and barbaric Israeli blockade, enduring only hardship since infancy. UNRWA then pleaded for cash to shore up its overstuffed coffers. There was just one problem, little Aya was a Syrian girl, and UNRWA itself tweeted a picture of the girl a year prior with the caption, “A year in #Syria: http://goo.gl/5cBaOv.” Once confronted with the scam, UNRWA removed the photo and issued a belated, half-hearted apology.
Infamous 9-11 Truther and conspiracy theorist Rosie O’Donnell was guilty of the same offense. In an effort to peddle what she termed “limited edition artwork,” her website featured a photo of a man carrying an injured baby alongside the caption, “Israel Begins Bombing Gaza; This man carries a baby about the same age as the one I sit next to, watching Frozen.”
Blogger Aussie Dave from the blog Israellycool exposed O’Donnell’s artwork as fraudulent. The featured photo was lifted from the Syrian theater and the child was from Aleppo, the victim of that dysfunctional country’s internecine conflict. Once exposed for the fraudster that she is, O’Donnell pulled the merchandise but without apology.
One of the more egregious cases of Pallywood that I’ve witnessed involves the gut-wrenching case of Mohammed al-Farra, a Gazan boy who was born with a rare genetic disease which necessitated the amputation of his arms and legs. His Gazan parents abandoned him and he ended up in the care of his grandfather, who out of desperation, contacted Israeli authorities for assistance and managed to get the child to Israel’s Tel Hashomer hospital where al-Farra received premium medical care covered by Israeli fundraising activity.
Partisan extremist Mohammed Omer, who has written puff pieces for anti-Israel shill outlets like the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera, featured a photo of the boy on his Twitter feed accompanied by the caption, “One of the last #Gaza war victims #RememberThoseChildren.” This case is particularly egregious because Omer almost certainly lifted the photo from Tel Hashomer’s website or at the very least failed to perform a basic rudimentary search of the photo’s origins. Once exposed, Omer deleted the tweet but also blocked me and others from viewing his Twitter feed. Liars don’t like to be told that they’re liars.
Pallywood is an insidious, Jew-hating practice akin to modern-day blood libels. In the age of modern communications and social media, it is manifestly more dangerous and damaging. The fraudulent images are transmitted to millions of people in seconds and negative impressions and beliefs are instantly formed. No one bothers with the corrections, which are all but buried and forgotten. It is fair to characterize Pallywood as an endeavor worthy of Hitler’s chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels.
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.
Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter