Swiss News Editor Claims Most Combat Images From Libya Are “Fakes”

Swiss News Editor Claims Most Combat Images From Libya Are “Fakes”

A veteran news editor at Switzerland's SF television network says apparently dramatic battleground images are being staged by insurgents for the benefit of photographers and cameramen...who are in on the game.

By Marc Brupbacher

Something like a civil war is raging in Libya as rebel insurgents and Muammar Gaddafi's troops are engaged in intense battles for Brega and Ajdabiyah in the east, and Az-Zawiyah in the West. Television stations around the world are showing a constant stream of explosive images out of the troubled nation. Now a news editor from the Swiss national television station SF is claiming that almost all of the pictures are contrived fakes.

In Libya people are being shot at, being forced into hiding or exile. The images are on our screens day and night - many TV news teams seem to be right in the thick of it. But appearances can be deceptive, says Helmut Scheben. Most of the pictures have been taken outside of the combat zone, Scheben claimed in an article Tuesday on the online portal Journal21.

"Most of the images of combat operations are set-ups," says Scheben, one of Switzerland's most experienced TV news editors. "This is a banal truth. Surely everyone knows that a cameraman can't go and film fighting at close range, unless he has a death wish."

Eating Soup During a Shootout

Scheben points to raw images sent out of Libya to the European VLIB Network (EVN) on Sunday over a period of 24 hours. Most of these pictures were clearly faked. "The flock of cameramen and photographers get out of their cars and then get the rebels to fire a few bursts from their Kalashnikovs while everything is filmed. Then one of them shoots a bazooka. He stands there and shoots randomly into the desert," Scheben was quoted as saying. "He isn't firing at anything but it really is a great picture."

Another example even shows people standing on the edge of the shot eating soup during what is supposed to be a skirmish between the two sides.

Swiss television isn't above showing faked images in the news. "Even at reputable channels like SF, ARD, ZDF and ORF, staged footage regularly finds its way into news items," Scheben told network. "It isn't always easy to determine in exactly what context the scenes were being filmed."

Nevertheless, the SF news program is now striving to be more transparent. On Tuesday's show SF correspondent Erwin Schmid pointed out during a report from Ras Lanuf that the soldiers had staged their shooting skills for journalists.
Helmut Scheben makes no bones about the fact that he doesn't like front-line coverage. Often these reports simulate hectic and dramatic scenes for the camera. SF news reports usually don't include combat images. Scheben says this should only be done if "it is made clear to viewers that the whole thing isn't real."

Read the original article in German

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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