Palestinian Photoshoppery

A picture tells a 1,000 lies

Can you spot the difference?

The picture, on the left, of an Israeli soldier, apparently, threatening two children is doing the rounds of the Internet. It offended me, not only for the propaganda but for the obvious and incredibly amateur picture manipulation (HT David A. Levy). Using reverse picture location, available to us all, I searched for the original. I found was a manipulated version of the original. It is probably a horizontally flipped version of the photograph on the right.


IDF soldier - woman removed - two children

Where’s Mummy?

IDF soldier - woman -two children

Human shield?

Flipped image

Is this the original?

We can only speculate why someone thought crudely removing the woman dragging her very reluctant children into what apparently is the line of fire would make better propaganda.

My image reading is the mother is read as valiantly confronting the evil Israeli soldier. A staged effort if there ever was one. What a pity we can’t see his face. I’ll bet there is a broad grin. With only the children a different reading pops up. The terrified child appears to be warding off   the evil Israeli soldier to protect her no less terrified sister. We all know Israelis are child killers </SARC>.

Take your pick: the Palestinian warrior or the Palestinian victim. Barthes would have a field day.

This photograph is so odd

What kind of mother drags her children into the firing line? My first response — a Palestinian one, because a Jewish one drags them away. This is on second though is probably unfair. We are conditioned to believe that mothers protect their children. No matter how many Palestinian mothers claim to be happy for their sons ‘suicide’ death and wish her other children follow his example and become shaheeds, we still don’t want to believe a mother would confront an armed soldier of any nationality with her children in tow, if it could be avoided.

Looking at her actions more positively. She relied on Israelis behaving properly. That’s almost always the case no matter how much Palestinians practise the Goebbels technique of repeating lies about Israeli behaviour. As with so many staged events, she knew that the soldier would do nothing to her or her children. Not that her children knew that. Is that child abuse?

The soldier is even more odd. Is he even pointing his weapon at the woman? The angle makes it impossible to tell. It is even impossible to tell how far he is from them. The compression from a long telephoto lens can make a distance of metres appear like centimetres. He could be pointing it across them.

It’s his stance that is most puzzling. The IDF teaches four separate firing positions: prone, kneeling, standing and from-the-hip (rarely – you can’t hit the side of a barn). The taking-a-dump stance is definitely not one of them. It’s not hard to understand why. No Israeli combat soldier squats to shoot. He would fall on his arse with the recoil. Even more embarrassing  the slightest push from the woman would send him sprawling. Could the original ‘original’ be a much more professional photoshopping of a soldier taking cover, for example?

flipped imageWhy flip the image? One can only go back to theory. Because we read and write from left to right‡ we subjectively make assumptions about which way the action is proceeding. Take a look at the double photograph of the soccer player. Most Europeans would say the player on the left is waiting for the ball to come to him while the player on the right is heading the ball away. What do you think?

Could it be that a graphic artist realising that the woman moving from the right appears aggressive and from the left defensive, flipped the image?

As to the loss of resolution i have no idea but I welcome theories.

Analysing image manipulation

When you look closely cutting out the mother  is so clearly photoshopped it’s not even funny, the green and white pole is chopped in half; the bush is sliced and the wall doesn’t match up; even the ground is mismatched. An even closer look shows the flash suppression on the rifle is missing as is part of the girl’s raised hand. Amazing what the enemies of Israel can get away with.

For reasons I can only guess the centre photograph  has been vignetted (clear in the center, and fades off at the edges) – perhaps the cross shape on the fence is too Christian looking? Perhaps for artistic effect although why do this on a photograph pretending to be journalism?


Anyone analysing Palestinian propaganda masquerading as news photography comes across this form of photoshopped lie time after time. It is a fair question to ask whether Israel advocates do the same thing. I’m still waiting for the first example.

‡ I’ve always wondered how that works on Israelis and Arabs who write from right to left. The mind boggles about the Chinese.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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