Gaza Selfie: Representing the Chosen People

Off-Guardian – Simon Elmer

There is a difference between the photographs published in the Western media during Israel’s 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip — which at the time was the most deadly in decades, killing over 2,300 Palestinians — and the far larger number of images, both photographs and digital footage, that have been coming out of Gaza since 7 October 2023. That’s partly because of the ubiquity of smartphones and social media today; but the images also serve a different geopolitical function.

What I’ve described previously as the ‘Bibilical’ representation of Palestinians in 2014 undoubtedly prepared the frame through which the peoples of the West initially viewed Israel’s attack on Gaza after the insurgency of 7 October; but the images and footage of the current crimes, which constitute a second Nakba, are very different. As I’ve also written previously, I don’t think we’ve ever seen what a military genocide looks like at such close quarters. In contrast, during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2021, the social media accounts of Palestinian activists documenting the deaths and destruction were shut down, and I’d guess that the same media blackout could be imposed now. The US military exerted complete control over the media’s reporting during its invasion of Iraq in 2003, and I’d imagine so could the Israel Defence Forces if they wanted to, particularly given the openly Zionist stance of the owners of social media (Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, etc.).

It might appear odd, therefore, that Israel is not allowing food, water and medical supplies into Gaza — thereby creating a man-made famine on top of the crime of killing 41,500 Palestinians, injuring over 77,000 and displacing 2 million from a quarter of a million destroyed homes — but is allowing the murderous and destructive effects of their actions to be published on social media. This is worthy of consideration and some attempt at an explanation of why, which I will try to offer here.

It’s clear that Israel is expanding its limits ‘from the river to the sea’, as the ruling party, Likud, defined it in its 1977 election manifesto, within which Palestinians will live as something close to slave workers within an apartheid state. And the West has shown, conclusively by now, that it is happy with that arrangement — happier, even, than it was with the similar situation in South Africa between 1948 and 1994, which it occasionally felt obliged to sanction.


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