Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
December 29, 2008

The Rocket As Relative

gaza stones.jpg
Hamas rockets 1.jpg

I’m interested in how these photos read, running back-to-back in today’s NYT Gaza slideshow.

The immediate argument on behalf of Israel, clearly a “first-world” military state, is that military action was necessary in Gaza because Hamas is subjecting the country to a growing rocket threat. The immediate argument on behalf of Hamas (coming out of the handbook on asymmetrical warfare) is to characterize (and dismiss) their own aerial capability in relative terms. That is what the slideshow seems to do, visually equating the airborne threat to Israel with the comparative force of stone projectiles being lofted by Palestinian demonstrators.

Whereas emotion and extremism paints the situation as one or the other, a more honest interpretation will exemplify both. Take the second photo, for example. The picture illustrates a threat that, comparatively speaking, is not that accurate or lethal, but at the same time, is dire in terms of terror value, random destruction, and as a fearful warning of more potent and precise technology coming on-line.

From NYT slide show: Israel Continues Airstrikes on Gaza

(image 1: Nayef Hashlamoun/Reuters. Hebron/West Bank. image 2: Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times. caption: Two rockets fired from inside Gaza as seen from the Israeli side of the border)

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