In August 2006, a scandal erupted in the context of the war then raging against Lebanon. From July 12 to August 14 of that year, Israel pummeled the country, flattening entire villages and slaughtering an estimated 1,200 people in the process, the vast majority of them civilians.
The New York Times reported that “the matter has created an uproar on the Internet, where many bloggers see an anti-Israel bias in Mr. Hajj’s manipulations, which made the damage from Israeli strikes into Beirut appear worse than the original pictures had.”For some observers, the devastation and slaughter did not themselves amount to a scandal. Rather, the real crime of the season had been committed by a Lebanese freelance photographer named Adnan Hajj, who was accused of manipulating two photographs for Reuters of an Israeli air raid on Beirut.
The alleged transgression was first publicized by blogger Charles Johnson of the Little Green Footballs website, whose other claims to fame include slamming 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie — fatally bulldozed by the Israelis in 2003 — as a “terror-supporting child abuser.” No bias there, obviously.
Ethically speaking, it’s clearly wrong for news photographers to engage in politically- or ideologically-motivated alteration of images. But in examining Hajj’s images provided on the New York Times’ website, one is hard-pressed to see how the manipulated image conveys a level of destruction any worse than that conveyed by the original. In both, clouds of heavy black smoke linger over Lebanon’s capital city. As the article notes, Hajj claimed that he was merely endeavoring to adjust the lighting in the photo and to remove a bit of dust.
Even had you wanted to, it would have been difficult to exaggerate the damage inflicted upon Lebanon in the summer of 2006. When my friend Amelia and I hitchhiked around the country a month after the termination of the war, national infrastructure was still in shambles. Bridges had been pulverized, sections of towns and cities had been converted to rubble, and swathes of the Lebanese coastline were coated in oil thanks to Israel’s bombardment of fuel tanks at Lebanon’s Jiyyeh power plant. READ MORE AT TeleSUR ENGLISH.