Fake Pictures from Palestine to Ferguson

Another fake picture shatters the world’s hopes for peace.


Should we be surprised? The immediacy of expression has shifted the focus from information to opinion, this blog as a case in point. On the one hand it has trivialized celebrity opinion, which is always a great thing, but hashtag culture has replaced thought with the snap, and reality with sass.

It’s a fact that information that the brain processes with the most ease sounds truer than complex data, which is why it is almost impossible to debunk conspiracy theories, or correct falsehoods once people have found an explanation that is simple enough to process, or snappy enough to process.

And that’s how we end up with a western agency trying to throw the western Hollywood spin on everything, even at the cost of truth, feeding us one of the most beautiful fake images the world has ever seen. Should it matter? Probably not it’s a freakin’ picture for Christ’s sake, in a world of selfies and profile pictures we all know how easy truth, starting with our looks can be manipulated to our benefit.

But it does, oh boy it does because in many ways it is treason, and it is using the medium that people go towards for truth to manipulate people’s opinion. Picasso painted Guernica, acclaimed as one of the greatest works of all time. Never thought much of it, but if someone had painted those two kids it wouldn’t have had the same impact as the reality of photography.

And look at what happens when the world takes offense to a real picture. South African photojournalist Kevin Carter killed himself over the backlash for shooting African starvation, only because westerners were outraged he didn’t save children he was not responsible for, and couldn’t have saved. That man drew the world’s attention to a problem we all share in, and was scapegoated for it. He was sacrificed at the altar of Western guilt at Western wastefulness and callousness, for rubbing it in our face, but the lady who staged a photo for politics, should be compensated by Rhianna when the world finds out it’s a fake? A man died for the truth, should another be compensated for a lie?


Kevin Carter’s infamous photo

This staged photo scandal is gonna be the top read for the next week, and the new poster for feel-good hypocrisy, but have you ever stopped to look at the photo below?

10858452_10153383339444992_5618338205500991253_nSeriously? Two preteens wrote this sign? Seriously?

Yeah it looks great on the surface, but to me it looks like someone wrote the message on a cardboard and found a bunch of Palestinian kids to hold it. I doubt those kids have any idea where Ferguson is, I’m not even sure they speak English. I am absolutely certain though that Palestinian organizations, and Jewish organizations militating for peace have found a new way of drawing attention to Palestine, by latching on to events in Ferguson.

I see a lot of people sharing this picture, and they are doing it out of the kindness of their hearts, but I am sure they have considered exactly what I have above, most likely after sharing the picture, and decided that it counted as a white lie in the service of all that is noble.

Perhaps, but it’s still a lie. The immediacy of photography makes things look more real, but it doesn’t make them true.

This last point is why children are used, because children represent innocence and innocence is a voucher for truth. It’s manipulative on two levels: our brain is tricked by the reality of photography, and our hearts are tricked by using children.

Of course I am speculating, and it’s not the only picture in this campaign, but I am quite certain I’m correct here. What do you guys think?

About the Author
Mame Bougouma Diene is a civil servant on permanent vacation even when he works 70 hours a week, who also blogs for the Times of Israel in French. He's French-Senegalese American, loves Israel and the Middle East, would really like to see an end to this intractable mess in his lifetime.