There seems to be no bottom to the abyss Israel is willing to sink to in its desperation to save its public image against the current Palestinian hunger strike.
Yesterday, the Israeli Prison Services released footage which is allegedly from the 27th of April and 5th of May, supposedly showing hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouti eating something which was wrapped in paper, while sitting on the toilet. Minister of Public Security and Hasbara (propaganda) Gilad Erdan exploited the ‘discovery’ to make his own video, saying that this proves that “Barghouti is a murderer and hypocrite who urged his fellow prisoners to strike and suffer while he ate behind their back.”
There are multiple problems with this footage, beyond the very real possibility that it is fake. A Palestinian prisoner’s advocacy group is saying that the footage is not recent and possibly even a decade old.
But let us return to the technicalities later, in order to address the real moral abyss here – the absolute shamelessness of Israeli propaganda. Those who eat that propaganda raw, and even with glee (like Jewish Press), are the real story here.
I mean, let’s just think about this whole thing first, morally. A society, with its top security officials and prison apparatus, is willing to air footage of a prisoner in a toilet. And for what? In order to weaken a hunger strike.
But there’s also the technical issue here, which is problematic on several fronts. In the first section of the video, supposedly from April 27th, Barghouti is seen taking a small package with paper, going to the toilet and closing the door. The ceiling surveillance camera from which this is shot manages to catch some of his image when he is there, but it is not clear that he is actually eating something. His concern, for which he closes the door, appears more to be for the guards being able to see him through the cell door (he lets the toilet door open slightly at a point, which puts him more in sight of the camera but still not in sight of the door angle). It is also unclear why this footage is then run for 3 whole minutes. Then comes the supposed footage from the 5th of May. But strangely, it starts with a few seconds from another angle, and then, when the ceiling camera appears again – it has no timestamp (as the Times of Israel noticed, thus admitting that it could not independently verify the dates the footage was recorded). When asked for comment by Times of Israel, the prison service spokesperson said: “The video speaks for itself.” But does it? The only video which shows Barghouti rather clearly eating a wafer, is that one without a timestamp.
But honestly, I cannot believe that we are actually having to discuss these things. The Palestinian hunger strike regards serious issues. And here we are discussing whether Barghouti ate a cookie, and when.
Israel is obviously desperate – and has already spoken of bringing in foreign doctors in order to force feed the prisoners, as the Israeli Medical Association is refusing to take part in what its chairman unequivocally calls “physical torture”.
But is there a doctor out there that may ever be able to heal the sick Israeli society, led by populist propaganda ministers that have not a shame in the world?