Pallywood, a portmanteau of "Palestinian" and "Hollywood", is a coinage used to describe supposed media manipulation, distortion or fraud by some Palestinians putatively designed to win the public relations war with Israel.[1][2] The term came into currency with the Muhammad al-Durrah incident (2000) a controversy during the Second Intifada involving a challenge to the veracity of photographic evidence.[3]

The term was coined and publicized in part by Richard Landes, as a result of an online documentary video he produced called Pallywood: According to Palestinian Sources, alleging specific instances of media manipulation.[4][5][6]

Richard Landes' video

In 2005, Richard Landes produced an 18-minute online documentary video called Pallywood: According to Palestinian Sources.[7] Landes and pro-Israel advocates argue that the Israeli government is insufficiently robust in countering Palestinian accounts of events in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[3]

In his video, Landes shows Arab-Israeli conflict-related footage that was taken mostly by freelance Palestinian video journalists. He argues that systematic media manipulation (which he dubs "Pallywood") dates back to at least the 1982 Lebanon War, and argues that broadcasters are too uncritical of the veracity of Palestinian freelance footage.[8]

He focuses in particular on the case of Muhammad al-Durrah, a 12-year-old Palestinian who was widely reported to have been killed by Israeli gunfire in the Gaza Strip on September 30, 2000 at the beginning of the Second Intifada. The shooting was filmed by a Palestinian freelance cameraman and aired on the France 2 television channel with narration by the veteran French-Israeli journalist Charles Enderlin, who was not present at the incident. It made worldwide headlines and the conduct of the Israel Defense Forces was heavily criticized internationally, severely damaging Israel's public standing on the world stage.[3]

Landes questions the authenticity of the footage and disputes whether al-Durrah was killed at all, arguing that the entire incident was staged by the Palestinians.[5][9] A 2013 Israeli investigation concluded that the al-Durrahs had not been hit by IDF fire and may not have been shot at all.[10] The photographers disputed the Israeli conclusion.[11]

Journalist Ruthie Blum, writing in the Jerusalem Post, describes "Pallywood" as a term coined by Richard Landes to refer to "productions staged by the Palestinians, in front of (and often with cooperation from) Western camera crews, for the purpose of promoting anti-Israel propaganda by disguising it as news." Landes himself describes Pallywood as "a term I coined... to describe staged material disguised as news." Besides al-Durrah, Landes cites the Gaza beach blast and Hamas's alleged exploitation of electricity shortages during the 2007–2008 Israel–Gaza conflict, as incidents of Pallywood. According to Blum, Landes's "pretty harsh claims" have earned him a "reputation in certain circles as a right-wing conspiracy theorist."[12] Landes’ terminology, it has been argued by Crisoula, was skewed to be supportive of Israel, exhibiting,’all the hallmarks of conspiracy theory’.[13]

Other uses

Dr. Anat Berko, a research fellow with the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, and Dr. Edna Erez, head of the criminal justice department of the University of Illinois at Chicago, say that "the phenomenon of manufacturing documentation about the conflict has been referred to as "Pallywood" (Palestinian Authority Hollywood)."[14] Similar allegations have been made by other media analysts, particularly after cases of media manipulation (dubbed "Hizbollywood")[15] were uncovered during the 2006 Lebanon War.[4][16][17][18][19] The Mackenzie Institute, a Canadian defense and security think tank,[20] has argued that given "a long history of posing for the cameras... the cynical 'Pallywood' nickname from once-deceived journalists for [Palestinian Authority] news services becomes understandable."[21]

The term has been applied beyond the Muhammad al-Durrah case in a number of publications,[22][23] and by conservative commentators such as David Frum,[24] Michelle Malkin[25] and Melanie Phillips.[26] Canadian columnist Paul Schneidereit has written, "[...] we've seen cases where the bodies of Palestinian martyrs carried on stretchers are inadvertently dropped, then, of their own volition, climb back on again. We’ve seen reports of massacres, as in Jenin in 2002, that turned out, after independent investigation, to have been greatly exaggerated. Needless to say, such episodes don’t instil an abiding trust in subsequent Palestinian claims, at least until they’re verified."[27]

Controversies and criticism

David Frum alleged that pictures, taking during the 2014 Gaza War, showing two brothers, weeping and with the bloodied T-shirts after carrying the body of their dead father had been faked. The pictures, which were published by Reuters, the New York Times, and Associated Press, had been targeted for criticism by a pro-Israeli blogger.[28] Frum backtracked from his accusation, and apologized to NYT photographer Sergey Ponomarev, after extensive debunking by Michael Shaw, but justified his "skepticism", describing other "Pallywood" claims.[29]

After the death of two Palestinian teenagers in Beitunia, Michael Oren and Israeli official spokesmen argued the video from a security camera was fake or manipulated and the teenagers had only pretended to be hit, a pallywood view contradicted by both the videos themselves and the official investigation which discovered misconduct by a Border Police officer, who was put on trial for his actions.[30]

Larry Derfner described Pallywood in +972 Magazine as "a particularly ugly ethnic slur".[31] Eyal Weizman, whose work with Forensic Architecture has been called “Pallywood” in Israel, replied that "The bastards’ last line of defence is to call it ‘fake news’. The minute they revert to this argument is when they’ve lost all the others."[32] Jonathan Cook argued also in 2018, that the fakery of brutality by Palestinians asserted in the word Pallywood applies with more force to what he says is the IDF's manufacturing of a more convenient reality than the real one existing with outbreaks of conflict.[33]

See also


  1. Ben-David, Calev (10 October 2007). "Between the Lines: Caught in the Mohammad al-Dura crossfire". Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 12 February 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  2. Schleifer, Ron; Snapper, Jessica (2015-01-01). Advocating Propaganda – Viewpoints from Israel: Social Media, Public Diplomacy, Foreign Affairs, Military Psychology, and Religious Persuasion Perspectives. Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 9781782841609. Archived from the original on 2017-01-28.
  3. 'Caught in the Mohammad al-Dura crossfire Archived 2011-01-16 at the Wayback Machine, by Calev Ben-David, The Jerusalem Post, October 12, 2007:
    : But pro-Israel media-watchdog advocates have gone further, arguing that the footage is a prime example of what has been dubbed "Pallywood" - media manipulation, distortion and outright fraud by the Palestinians (and other Arabs, such as the Reuters photographer caught faking photos during the Second Lebanon War), designed to win the public relations war against Israel.
  4. Cambanis, Thanassis. "Some Shunning The Palestinian Hard Stance Archived 2011-05-23 at the Wayback Machine" The Boston Globe, September 6, 2005
  5. "Media are Hamas's main strategic weapons, says visiting US historian". JPost. August 28, 2015. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015.
  6. Sridharan, Vasudevan (31 August 2015). "Palestine boy head-locked by Israeli soldier called 'Pallywood star'". International Business Times. Retrieved 20 May 2018. A picture of an Israeli soldier head-locking a 12-year-old Palestinian boy has gone viral as the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) accused the boy's family of being "Pallywood stars" to stoke anti-Israel sentiments. The Israeli soldier, who was injured in the incident, was attempting to arrest the boy in Nabi Saleh. Pallywood is a term coined by US historian and author Richard Landes over alleged manipulation of the media in order to gain sympathy for the Palestinian cause.
  7. Carvajal, Doreen. "The mysteries and passions of an iconic video frame", International Herald Tribune, Monday, February 7, 2005.
  8. Landes, Richard. "Pallywood: History" Archived 2006-01-11 at the Wayback Machine,
  9. "Al-Durah: What happened?" Archived 2007-04-03 at the Wayback Machine,
  10. Isabel Kershner, "Israeli Report Casting New Doubts on Shooting in Gaza", The New York Times, 19 May 2013.
  11. Robert Mackey, "Complete Text of Israel's Report on the Muhammad al-Dura Video", The New York Times, 20 May 2013.
  12. Leibovitz, Ruthie Blum (26 March 2008). "One on One: Framing the debate". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  13. Lionis Chrisoula,Laughter in Occupied Palestine: Comedy and Identity in Art and Film, I.B.Tauris, 2016 p.89.
  14. Berko, Anat and Erez, Edna, "Martyrs of murderers? Victims or victimizers? The voices of would-be Palestinian female suicide bombers", in Cindy D. Ness (ed), Female Terrorism and Militancy: Agency, Utility, and Organization, p. 164. Routledge, 2008. ISBN 0-415-77347-4
  15. 'Im Zweifel für den Zweifel Archived 2007-12-15 at the Wayback Machine,' Der Tagesspiegel 2006-08-09]
  16. Zerbisias, Antonia."And Now It's Reutersgate". (archived) Toronto Star, 9 August 2006. Archived July 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  17. Gelernter, David. "When pictures lie" Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine, Jewish World Review, 2003.
  18. Photo of Palestinian Boy Kindles Debate in France Archived 2008-02-01 at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times, 7 February 2005.
  19. Frum, David. From Gaza, tragedy and propaganda. National Post, 17 June 2006. Archived July 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  20. Michael Doxtater, "How the Mohawks look at history", Globe and Mail, 11 July 1991, A17; "Mail bombs spark public warning", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 20 July 1995, A3; Geoff Baker, "Who's behind mail-bomb plot?", Toronto Star, 30 July 1995, A2; "Tamils protest paper's story", Toronto Star, 13 February 2000, p. 1; Rob Faulkner, "Institute offers anti-terrorism tip sheet", Hamilton Spectator, 10 August 2005, A6.
  21. Lies, Damned Lies and Footage, The Mackenzie Institute, Newsletter July, 06. Archived August 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  22. FrontPage Magazine at the Wayback Machine (archive index)
  23. "The Fog of Peace". American Thinker. Archived from the original on 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2010-07-28.
  24. "FrontPage Magazine". Retrieved 2010-07-28.
  25. Malkin, Michelle (2006-12-05). "Questioning a NY Times reporter; challenging CBS News & ASNE". Michelle Malkin. Archived from the original on 2010-01-18. Retrieved 2010-07-28.
  26. Official homepage Archived 2009-02-26 at the Wayback Machine
  27. Canadian journalist Paul Schneidereit writing in the Halifax, Nova Scotia, The Chronicle Herald, 27 November 2007
  28. James Fallows (31 July 2014). "On David Frum, The New York Times, and the Non-Faked 'Fake' Gaza Photos". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 13 March 2017.
  29. David Frum (30 July 2014). "An Apology: On Images From Gaza". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 1 June 2016.
  30. Jordan Kutzik, Pallywood’ Killing Was Exactly What It Looked Like The Forward 13 November 2014
  31. Derfner, Larry (15 November 2014). "'Pallywood': A particularly ugly ethnic slur". +972 Magazine. Retrieved 19 May 2018. I’ve been writing for years against the “Pallywood” theory – the right-wing notion that videos showing Palestinians getting killed by Israelis are really elaborate fakes meant to blacken Israel’s name. Yet it’s only this morning I realized that the term “Pallywood,” which was coined by Boston University Prof. Richard Landes, is an ethnic slur, and a particularly ugly one.
  32. Forensic Architecture: detail behind the devilry, Rowan Moore, 25 February, 2018 The Guardian
  33. Jonathan Cook, 'Israeli army’s lies can no longer salvage its image,' Mondoweiss 5 March 2018

Further reading

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