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“Icon of Hatred”

November 18, 2007

Those who have been following the Mohammed al-Durah hoax will already have seen this film, Icon of Hatred, by Richard Landes of Augean Stables and The Second Draft.

It’s hard viewing, but necessary. Richard reminds us just how serious the al-Durah affair was. It was far from being just another instance of journalistic malfeasance of the kind with which we have become all too familiar. This was journalism with consequencesreal consequences, like the similarly false Gitmo-guard-flushes-Qu’ran-down-toilet story, which sparked riots across the Muslim world and claimed a dozen deaths.

It’s not easy to say how many people will have died as a result of this footage — on both sides during the Intifada, at the hands of Al Qaida in America, Afghanistan and Iraq, on the streets of the Middle East. Bin Laden gorged on it, as did the beheaders of Daniel Pearl, and the waves of suicide murderers destined for the clubs and bars of Israel’s cities. The tally may run into thousands.

Yet it was false, fraudulent, faked. And though so many people have lost their lives in consequence, not one journalist has lost even his livelihood.

Power without responsibility: the whore’s prerogative throughout the ages. And now it is the singular privilege of the journalist.

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