Richard Landes – Pallywood on a Gaza Beach?

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I’ve now seen the footage of the BBC, Al Jazeera, and CNN. It bears all the marks of Pallywood:
Palestinian contribution: no blood, bad child actors (it takes the girl two tries to throw herself on her father, no signs of damage or crater, hospital chaos with men in doctors’ coats accusing Israel, played over and over again on TV, use of rhetoric of genocide against Israel.
Western media contribution: cutting to make it more believable (take out the girl throwing herself on the sand beside her “father” before “finding him”), cut from action piece to action piece so the audience doesn’t have the time to develop suspicions, accept the Palestinian version (Israeli shells) as reliable (without even presenting it as the Palestinian claim), presenting it with a warning about graphic footage setting up people to believe what they are supposed to be seeing).

I have not seen or heard enough to be certain here. There’s still the possibility that this is real footage, although I’d be surprised. In the meantime, real or not, so much of this footage is questionable, that it illustrates just how unprofessional the media are (BBC are you listening?) that they would play this over and over again, giving their support to yet another Palestinian narrative that will bring misery to the Palestinians. As one Palestinian, interviewed by the BBC put it:

I’ve heard people in the last few hours calling for revenge. If an attack happens inside Israel it will make them a little bit happy. It might also make them reject the referendum planned by [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas.

In other words, once again, a scene that bears many marks of staging, will drive Palestinians to self-destructive choices, while the Western media, in the unprofessional credulity, lend credibility to the unlikely and poisonous footage. Let’s hope this time they’re smarter than they were in 2000.

Update 1: There are four family members badly wounded in an Israeli hospital. A bomb did go off, although it’s not clear where, when, and whose bomb. The Palestinians refuse to give the Israelis any information that might help them understand. The Israelis will not be as easily led to take responsibility this time, despite the international outcry.

A Ha-aretz reporter compares the outrage to Al Durah six years ago, and Jerusalem Post notes that Olmert goes to Europe under a cloud from this incident (just as Barak did to Paris on October 4, 2000, four days after everyone believed Al Durah). Sarah al Deeb, writing for AP, discusses the instant iconic status of the mourning girl.

More details from the blog Israel Matzav, including the claim that it happened in the evening. (Other reports imply late afternoon.)

Kofi Anan has called for an investigation. Note that the language of the UN news release already assumes the conclusion:

9 June 2006 – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged a probe of reports that civilians were killed by Israeli forces on a beach in Gaza today, and reminded all concerned to exercise restraint and avoid further bloodshed.

If it turns out it’s not Israel, will they cover that as well?

Richard Landes – Pallywood on a Gaza Beach?

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Richard Landes

Richard Allen Landes is an American historian and author, specializing in Millennialism. He retired from teaching history at Boston University in the Spring of 2015. He currently serves as the Chair of the Council of Scholars at SPME.

His work focuses on the role of religion in shaping and transforming the relationships between elites and commoners in various cultures. He has coined the expression "demotic religiosity," an orientation that prizes 1) equality before the law, 2) dignity of manual labor, 3) access to sacred texts and divinity for all believers, and 4) a prizing of moral integrity over social honor. Trained as a medievalist, his early work focused on the period around 1000 CE, a moment, in his opinion, of both cultural mutation (origins of the modern West), and intense apocalyptic and millennial expectations.

From 1995-2004, he directed the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University which held annual conferences and published an online journal, Journal of Millennial Studies. This involvement refocused his work on millennialism the world over and in different time periods, and has resulted in the Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements, (Berkshire Reference Works; Routledge, NY, 2000); Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience (Oxford U. Press, 2011), and The Paranoid Apocalypse: A Hundred-Year Retrospective on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (NYU Press, 2011).

His work on the apocalyptic currents that built up during the approach to 2000 has led him to focus on Global Jihad as an apocalyptic millennial movement, whose relationship to the internet may parallel that of Protestantism to printing, and whose active cataclysmic apocalyptic scenario (Destroy the world to save it), makes it potentially one of the most dangerous apocalyptic movements on record.

In addition to his courses on medieval history, he offered courses on

Europe and the Millennium,

Communications Revolutions from Language to Cyberspace

Honor-shame culture Middle Ages, Middle East

The Biblical origins of the Democracy.

In 2011, he is a fellow at the International Consortium on Research in the Humanities at Alexander University, Erlangen, Germany. There he is working on the study with which his medieval work first began, the history of the “sabbatical millennium” with its expectation of the messianic kingdom in the year 6000 from the creation of the world: While God Tarried: Demotic Millennialism from Jesus to the Peace of God, 33-1033.

In 2005 he launched a media-oversight project called The Second Draft in order to look at what the news media calls their “first draft of history.” Since January 2005 he has been blogging at The Augean Stables, a name chosen to describe the current condition of the Mainstream News Media (MSNM) in the West.

As a result of this work on the MSNM, he has come to understand the role of cognitive warfare in the campaign of apocalyptic Jihad against the West in the 21st century, and the abysmal record of the West in defending itself in this critical theater of War. He plans a book addressing these issues tentatively entitled They’re so Smart cause We’re so Stupid: A Medievalist’s Guide to the 21st Century. 


  • Landes, Richard A.; Head, Thomas J. (eds.) (1987). Essays on the Peace of God : the church and the people in eleventh-century France. Waterloo, Ontario: Waterloo University. OCLC18039359.
  • Landes, Richard A.; Paupert, Catherine (trans.) (1991). Naissance d'Apôtre: Les origines de la Vita prolixior de Saint Martial de Limoges au XIe siècle. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. 9782503500454.
  • Landes, Richard A.; Head, Thomas J. (eds.) (1992). The Peace of God: social violence and religious response in France around the year 1000. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press. ISBN 080142741X.
  • Landes, Richard A. (1995). Relics, apocalypse, and the deceits of history: Ademar of Chabannes, 989-1034. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674755308.
  • Landes, Richard A. (ed.) (2000). Encyclopedia of millennialism and millennial movements. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415922461.
  • Landes, Richard A.; Van Meter, David C.; Gow, Andrew Sydenham Farrar (2003). The apocalyptic year 1000: religious expectation and social change, 950-1050. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195111915.
  • Landes, Richard A. (2011). Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Landes, Richard A.; Katz, Stephen (eds.). The Paranoid Apocalypse: A Hundred Year Retrospective on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. New York: New York University Press.

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