Richard Allen Landes is an American historian and author, specializing in Millennialism. He currently serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Boston University. Landes was the director of the now quiescent Center for Millennial Studies.
He was trained as a medievalist and wrote his first book on a series of forgeries that had fooled historians for centuries, even after a scholar in the 1920s had shown decisively that the texts were fiction. In addition to working on the medieval “Peace of God” movement (980s-1030s) and the relations between elites and commoners in 11th century France, he focuses on millennial and apocalyptic movements. In addition to courses on medieval history, he offers courses in “Communications Revolutions from Language to Cyberspace”, “Europe and the Millennium,” and “Honor-Shame Cultures, Middle Ages, Modern World.”
He has published several books on Millenialism. The latest, Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience, will be published by Oxford University Press in December 2010.
He is best known to conservatives for his work on the Muhammad Al-Durah case and Pallywood:
Landes is a strong supporter of the state of Israel, and a vigorous critic of what he considers anti-Israel propaganda in professedly objective news reports, and from supposedly impartial neutral bodies.
In particular, he denounces the “mainstream” press for uncritically repeating stories from Palestinian sources about civilian casualties from Israeli actions, even when these stories may be exaggerated, distorted, or false. Though he has never denied that Palestinian civilians have been killed and injured in Israeli operations, he has cited evidence that these casualties have been overstated for propaganda purposes.
He has coined the term “Pallywood” for the practice of filming staged funerals, casualties, and other evidence against Israel for the benefit of European and American news organizations.
He maintains two personal Web sites: “The Augean Stables” and “The Second Draft“. “The Augean Stables” is a blog on anti-Israel media problems and related issues. (The title refers to the Fifth Labor of Hercules: clearing the immense manure piles in the stables of King Augeas.)
“The Second Draft” is exclusively devoted to anti-Israel propaganda in the news, with essays, articles, and archived video. Landes has been particularly concerned with the alleged shooting of Muhammad al-Durrah by Israeli troops, and the inflammatory reporting of the incident by French television.
Landes has also helped establish Understanding the Goldstone report, a multi-authored Website devoted to exposing and refuting alleged inaccuracies in the Goldstone report on Israel’s operations in the Gaza Strip.
The term “Pallywood” refers to the staging of scenes by Palestinian journalists in order to present the Palestinians as hapless victims of Israeli aggression. They are able to succeed in this endeavor in large part due to the credulity and eagerness of the Western press to present these images, which reinforce the image of the Palestinian David struggling valiantly against the overpowering Israeli Goliath. Pallywood has led to astonishing lapses in Western journalistic standards in which badly staged scenes regularly appear on the news as “real events.” This page attempts to outline how such lapses could have come about, producing the current situation.
(please read the rest of that blog post at the above link for a good history of Pallywood)
Professor Landes has produced some great documentaries on Pallywood and the Mohammad Al-Durah Affair. They can be downloaded at his site here.
You can also watch them on Youtube:
From American Thinker, By Joel J. Sprayregen:
The New York Times and the al-Dura Hoax:
Why won’t the New York Times accept responsibility for repeatedly publishing a falsehood which caused many deaths?
Mohammed al-Dura, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, became an icon in 2000 when French State television (“France 2″) ran agonizing views of the boy, cradled in his father’s arms, supposedly under fatal fire from Israeli soldiers during a Gaza battle. The incident, deplorable if true, was presented by international media (see below) virtually as a reprise of the Crucifixion. A French appeals court ruled on May 21-dismissing France 2’s libel suit against the media watchdog who exposed the hoax-that the footage could not be accepted as true, citing testimony from the former Le Monde chief editor that “the theory that the scene [of the child's death] was faked was more probable then the version presented by France 2.”
Have you read about exposure of the hoax in the Times or other mainline media (excepting the Wall Street Journal and New York Sun)?
That the al-Dura lies incited murders of many innocent people is indisputable. The Jihadis who beheaded reporter Daniel Pearl inserted repeated footage of al-Dura in their gruesome video. Osama bin Laden cited al-Dura as a justification for his carnages in a post-9/11 recruitment video which showed the boy’s “death” 12 times. Streets and plazas–including the street on which Israel’s embassy in Cairo is located — were named after the boy.
Times reporter Deborah Sontag published a near-contemporaneous account — under a headline stating “In Battling Gazans, Israelis Sow Seeds of Hate” — on December 10 2000, which can fairly be read as justifying rather than explaining Palestinian suicide bombing. Sontag referred with certainty to “the boy shot dead as he crouched behind his father” and quoted a “cosmopolitan” Palestinian who wants a gun because he is “haunted by the image of Muhammad al-Dura.”
Sontag, a serial second-generation fictionalist, recently published a Sunday front-page article portraying returning U.S. combat personnel as deranged murderers; the Times’ Public Editor hastily acknowledged that her statistics were faulty.
The Hoax Unravels — The Journalistic Saturnalia Continues
By April, 2002, the al-Dura hoax was beginning to unravel. A German film-maker showed that the Israelis could not possibly have shot the boy. France 2 refused to air her documentary. Notwithstanding the evidence, the Times chose to elevate the falsehood by punditry. On April 17, 2002, the Times published a column by Max Rodenbeck, Middle East correspondent for the London Economist (much British reporting from the region sounds as if it was commissioned by Dr. Goebbels), opining that Arab television was winning the day because it accurately reports just resistance to “brutal” Israelis: [...]
By February, 2005, the Times, acknowledging that authenticity of the France 2 footage was disputed, quoted Professor Richard Landes of Boston University who concluded the video had probably been faked:
“Palestinian cameramen, especially when there are no Westerners around, engage in systematic staging of action scenes.”
Nevertheless, the Times continued to publish opinion columns accepting the faked footage as truth, e.g., on August 21, 2005, the Times published a column by Palestinian publicist David Kuttab “Live from Gaza” referring to “an interview with the parents of Mohammad al-Dura, the boy who was photographed dying in his father’s arms.” The Times never published an opinion piece challenging the falsification.
The Times was not alone in this saturnalia of bigoted journalistic incompetence. Time Magazine Europe honored al-Dura as “Newsmaker of 2000.” The editor of the Independent, concluding there was “no room for doubt,” excoriated the press for insufficient hostility to Israel. The London Telegraph agreed that al-Dura provided “provocation for revenge.” The London Review of Books published a Requiem for al-Dura, eulogizing him as “an infant Jesus.” National Public Radio ran puff interviews acclaiming the France 2 team as journalistic giants. The Palestinian cameraman who faked the footage says: “Journalism is my religion.” Journalism awards were showered on France 2.
The Contemptible Afterlife of Media Falsehoods: Will Anyone Accept Responsibility?
The afterlife of these falsehoods is even more contemptible than the initial reporting. Though the French Court decision was circulated by Reuters and the Associated Press (to which most newspapers subscribe) it was reported only in France and Israel. The New York Times has not published a word about the exposure so far as I ahve been able to find.
Were it not for a few truth-telling bloggers — Tom Gross of NRO, Andrea Levin of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting) in the Jerusalem Post, Ed Lasky in the American Thinker — the hoax would still be accepted…
Professor Landes’ websites:
We are only a website with some unusually revealing and important video footage we think many people need to see.
Because those of us working on the opening dossier at this site are primarily American, French and Israeli Jews, that constitutes the initial core inspired to put up this website and to manage the material that comes in about Pallywood.
But because we feel that the Israelis are not alone in suffering from this particular debacle, we hope that Palestinians and other Arabs, as well as fair-minded and sincerely concerned outsiders will join us in trying to sort out the widespread damage these continuing media errors cause to all involved. And because we feel the loneliness of trying to draw the larger public’s attention to media malfeasance, we hope to draw other groups with similar problems to consider our website a place to air their concerns as well…
His blog: Augean Stables
some noteworthy pieces of writing by Professor Landes:
includes: Politically Correct Paradigm (PCP1)
Post-Colonial Paradigm (PCP2)
Honor-Shame Jihad Paradigm (HJP)
includes: LIBERAL COGNITIVE EGOCENTRISM (LCE)
DOMINEERING COGNITIVE EGOCENTRISM (DCE)
MOEBIUS STRIP OF COGNITIVE EGOCENTRISM
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