Fake News! The View from Israel’s Military Occupation
April 18, 2019, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Rebecca L. Stein
Duke University Department of Anthropology
This paper studies the impact of new photographic technologies and image-sharing platforms on the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories. Taking its cue from Trumpian political discourse, I focus on the right-wing Jewish Israeli reckoning with the growing visual archive of Palestinian injury at Israeli state or settler hands – a reckoning that occurs through the discourse of “fake news,” or the charge that such images are fraudulent or manipulated in some regard to produce the damning portrait of Israel. I will trace the long colonial history of repudiation in the Israeli context, its modification in the digital age, and consider the ways it has become an increasingly standard right-wing response to images of state violence believed to damage Israel’s global standing. I will argue that the fraudulence charge is marshalled as a solution to the viral visibility of Israeli state violence — a charge that works to bring these damning images back in line with dominant Israeli ideology by shifting the narrative from Palestinian injury to Israeli victimhood. The story of the “fake” image of Palestinian injury endeavors strip the visual field of its Israeli perpetrators and Palestinian victims, thereby exonerating the state. Or such is the fantasy.