Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Suspending disbelief

Suspension of disbelief refers primarily to the willingness of a reader or viewer to accept the premises of a work of fiction, even if they are fantastic or impossible. It also refers to the willingness of the audience to overlook the limitations of a medium, so that these do not interfere with the illusion. However, suspension of disbelief is a do ut des: the audience agrees to provisionally suspend their judgment in exchange for the promise of entertainment.

As most of my blogger friends are either left, or left leaning, we all share similar outlooks politically and socially. We also have formed common goals by way of the Bloggers against torture, posting against the excess force and reaction from Israel during the summer, in short, coming up for the underdog. Speaking for myself, I have always felt the need to understand what was behind a supposed obvious situation. In the Netherlands, there is an expression: to look past the end of your nose. (rough translation). In other words, don't take everything at face value, examine a bit further. As we were all appalled this summer at the Israeli attacks in Lebanon and Gaza, we also found out that someone at Reuters 'spruced' up a picture to make it look worse than it was. Remember the famous black cloud over Beirut? I would like you to consider and investigate the following, the death of Mohamed al Durah in 2000. Before you do, also consider people's own experiences and read Rogel's:
My story involve no violence or shooting. At a quiet day, we stop during a patrol to rest along side the road. Near us was a group of Palestinians working in an orchard, cutting trees – a job that the orchard owner paid them to do. It was quiet enough that we were able to drink coffee and rest from the patrol. It was that quiet that we didn't pay to much attention to TV crew that stopped near us, interviewed the workers and took some pictures.

The day after I got 48 hours vacation so I was able to watch on that news channel how my patrol forced the poor Palestinians to cut the trees. It was my first lesson about the way news are being reported, or rather being made.

Back to Mohamed al Durah:
On September 30, 2000, images of 12-year-old Mohammed Al Durah and his father--cowering behind a barrel at Netzarim Junction, in the Gaza Strip--circulated globally, along with a claim that they had been the targeted victims of Israeli fire. If Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount two days earlier had sparked riots, these images triggered all-out war. The ensuing horror and outrage swept away any questions about its reliability. Indignant observers dismissed any Israeli attempt to deny responsibility as "blaming the victim."

This is not about whether we believe the Israeli occupation is wrong, or if we believe that, because of the situations of the Palestinians that it is ok for facts/images to be changed so that they get the appropriate attention and sympathy from the world. This is about something that we, mostly left leaning bloggers pride ourselves about; to be truthful and expose falsehoods and to be honest in self examination.
I personally believe that in conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestinian one, that there are many parties who have their own agenda, their own scruples or lack thereof. It is not all one-sided in that case. Our sympathy with which ever side should not cloud our judgement as to what we can can call out to be wrong or right.

For further investigation: the second draft.


Anonymous Rogel said...

I have only praises for your intellectual honesty. We can, and probably should, argue but we should argue base on some agreed upon facts. The problem with the media is that it choose the easy way, for many reason, and is looking for the sensation instead of news. It is irrelevant if your are conservative, socialist or libertarian - you should base your judgment on facts, today we are not really getting them from the traditional media.

10:27 AM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

It's probably true that some Palestinians fake shootings and so on. This is bad, because it casts doubt on actual crimes that did happen.
The question is, where do we focus our efforts? Should we spend our energy exposing the frauds of a people under occupation, under siege, terrorised daily by a military superpower? Or should we accept that although there may be a few fakes, there are some things that are not under any doubt, like the occupation and like the suffering, and work towards ending these?

I think the latter. So although I accept that there are some frauds, I can't respect things like this documentary, because all their effort and time would have been far better spent working against the occupation than against the occupiers.

That said, I agree with you that intellectual honesty and truth must be valued above all else. But the reality is that there are lies on all sides. The question is: who's lies should we work to expose? The occupiers, or the occupied? The answer, to me, seems clear.

6:01 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

Erm, that should read:

'because all their effort and time would have been far better spent working against the occupation than against the occupied.'

Don'tcha just hate it when that happens?

9:39 AM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Rogel, thanks for the kind words. I have more to say but Heathlander, I will keep the 'floor open' so to speak and hope that some of the others comment on this too , before I do. I think this could turn into a very interesting discussion. I will say that, when I made my comment re. being honest re. all news sources, I'm talking about its effect. For instance, if a made up story (or heavily tweaked one) would cause literally thousands of people to go into the streets to protest and cause riots and deaths, than I do not believe the end justifies the means. Regardless of what you think of this particular documentary. That's all I'll say for now! (come on guys, more 'two cents' in pls)

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Rogel said...

The Issue isn't the pure opressed Palestinians or the horibble Israelis, Rather the quality - or rather the lack of, news you are geting at home.

6:37 PM  
Blogger The Heathlander said...

I absolutely value the truth, and, as I said, if it true that Palestinians have been lying about casualties and deaths and so on, it is wrong (if, for nothing else, because it calls into question deaths and crimes that actually did happen).

Nowhere did I speak of 'horrible Israelis', and nowhere did I intend to portray it as good vs. evil or anything as simplistic as that.

But Israel is the occupier, and the Palestinians are the occupied. So I can't respect people who make documentaries like the one shown here because it seems like they are investing all their effort and time with bad faith, with bad intentions. Because any moral person would want the occupation to end, it seems in very poor form to spend so much effort on working to discredit and harm the cause of the occupied (even if for legitimate reasons).

It's about where one chooses to spend one's effort. So, as an example, take the Rwanda genocide. Imagine if Bob, at the time, found out that the death toll for Tutsis had been exagerated - that instead of (say) 900,000, it was only 875,000. Imagine he spent hours and hours compiling evidence and doing research and presenting a documentary that proved his case. Now, I would not be able to have any respect for Bob or his work based on that. It might be an excellent piece of research, it might be completely true, but to focus one's effort on discrediting the Tutsis, who are (at the time) being slaughtered en masse, seems in bad faith.

That isn't to compare what's happening in the Occupied Territories with Rwanda; not at all. But there is an occupied and occupier, there is an oppressed and oppressor. I just can't respect people who devote their effort to harming the cause of the oppressed instead of the oppressor.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Cyberotter said...

You should come over and check out what this guy Voice of America is debating with me. It's pretty sad and scarry.

Not sure what to think about this French 2 TV thing. Other than it's very complicated and explinations strain on both sides.

12:25 PM  
Blogger tooners said...

on a side note or off topic, did you know that Mahmood's blog was blocked by the MOI? it opened up again this morn. but if offline again. this time, i'm wondering if he'll get it back up... only time will tell.

4:50 AM  
Blogger betmo said...

good for you for trying to do what news doesn't seem to be able to do- report balanced. i agree- i have my own opinion about the israeli occupation of palestine- but the news should report- not embellish. the reporters now work for corporate media so the news is not the 4th estate any longer.

6:59 AM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Cyberotter, I did go over and spend a little time on that post. I would almost consider that guy a troll of sorts. I bet he would discuss it differently if you both did it in person.
Tooners, good to see you my friend, long time no see! Mahmoud's finally got blocked? Well, I'm surprised it did not happen any sooner because he's pretty outspoken. Do you know if he has experienced any other repercussions? I sure hope not. Bahrain is a pretty small place and someone's got his number. Let me know how that progresses.
Betmo, thanks. In this unperfect world, the onus is on the victim's/aggrieved party to present a flawless defense and account. Anything tampering with that takes away people's ability or desire to look at their whole picture. It's a psychological effect, rather than intended. Also, if you are found to be falsifying or embellishing one account, people will question all your other work, regardless even on which side of the fence you are presenting. It comes with the territory. Nothing is gained by it other than inciting more anger and hatred which always gets in the way of resolving anything.

10:18 AM  

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