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Palestinian journalist and activist falsely presented as a crisis actor

A tweet falsely represents Palestinian social media influencer, Saleh Aljafarawi as a con artist

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Claim: A Palestinian ‘crisis actor’ has pretended to be a freedom fighter, blood donor, foster father, a resilient patient, a revived corpse, a war correspondent, a contestant in American Idol, a radiology technician and a tour guide.

Fact: The man in the images is Saleh Aljafarawi, a Palestinian social media influencer and blogger who lives in Gaza. He has been posting videos from Gaza on his Instagram account, documenting and commenting on the Israel-Hamas conflict in October 2023. The images are either taken out of context, doctored, or have no evidence to support the claims made about them.

On 3 November 2023, X (formerly, Twitter) user @leslibless tweeted a collage (archive) of images claiming to show the same man posing as a freedom fighter, blood donor, foster father, a resilient patient, a revived corpse, a war correspondent, a contestant in the American Idol, a radiology technician and a tour guide in various situations. Israel’s official X account also claimed he is a crisis actor.

This claim is a part of the larger disinformation campaign against the Palestinian social media influencer and blogger who is depicted in these images. Many believe Aljafarawi to be a “crisis actor” who pretends to be a victim of violence at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces. However, there is no evidence to support this theory, and it has been debunked many times. Soch Fact Check has previously fact-checked a similar claim here.

According to Sam Doak, a senior fact-checker at Logically Facts, an international fact-checking organization, the use of the term “Pallywood” increases during periods of military escalation in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. He tells Rolling Stone magazine that, “although it’s hard to prove exact causation, you can see this term being used to refute that these kinds of escalations are causing civilian harm on the scale being claimed by Palestinian sources”. 

Fact or Fiction?

The images in the collage are all of Saleh Aljafarawi, a 25-year-old Palestinian activist, singer and social media activist who lives in Gaza. He has been posting videos (archive) from Gaza on his YouTube and Instagram accounts, documenting and commenting on the Israel-Hamas conflict. His Instagram account was suspended in late November 2023, and he switched to a new one.

However, the images in the collage are either taken out of context, doctored, or have no evidence to support the claims made about them.

Soch Fact Check has already debunked the images claiming to show the same man as a “resilient patient” here, and a “revived corpse”, here. This was also debunked by a France 24 fact check.

We found another video (archive), of Aljafarawi walking the streets and reciting the Holy Quran, on his Instagram account. A screenshot of this video has been taken to claim that he was pretending to be a tour guide. In reality, this video was created by Aljafarawi as he commented on the 7 October attack by Hamas and recited the Holy Quran; he was not giving a tour or pretending to be a tour guide.

Several social media accounts posting content considered anti-Palestine, as well as mainstream news channels, have used the term “Pallywood” —a mix of Palestine and Hollywood — to claim that Palestinians are exaggerating or misrepresenting the severity of the devastation they face.

The image which claims to show that he is pretending to be a “freedom fighter” is a screenshot from a music video posted on his YouTube and Instagram accounts in July, which has now been deleted. In the video, Aljafarawi sings in Arabic while dressed up in a military uniform. A screenshot from this music video was used to imply that he is pretending to be a “freedom fighter”.

Now-removed music video

The image where Aljafarawi is shown wearing a blue helmet that says “piss”, is a doctored version of a screen grab taken from this video (and this) shared on X, where the same helmet is shown saying “press”. Therefore, this particular screenshot is doctored in addition to being misleading.

We also found the image claiming to show Saleh Aljafarawi “pretending to be a radiologist”, posted on X and Instagram. Aljafarawi’s Instagram shows he volunteers at hospitals quite often, and this image could have possibly been taken while he was volunteering to help a patient receive a scan in a minor way. The lack of details and context means the picture cannot be used to claim Aljafarawi was pretending to be a radiologist.

Lastly, the image claiming Aljafarawi is pretending to be a “Foster Father” is similarly vague and confusing. The image was posted to X multiple times, with the same claim made in the caption. The picture simply shows him being affectionate with a child, and there are no visual or written cues which indicate that he is claiming to be the child’s foster father. However, Soch Fact Check can’t confirm if he is a foster father or if he’s ever claimed to be.

Virality

The collage of images has been widely reshared on social media platforms, especially on X, where Aljafarawi was mockingly called “Mr. Pallywood” in a post by. @AvivaKlompas. which received more than 1 million views, 4,700 retweets and 13,000 likes. 

@leslibless post on X got 5.3 million views, 326 retweets and 902 likes.

Some of the individual images from the collage have also been shared separately, with different captions and contexts e.g. the image of the “resilient patient”  has been viewed more than 1.8 million times, liked over 10,000 times, shared at least 3,000 times and received more than 4,000 comments. 

The “revived corpse” image was also posted on X by @TheMossadIL. This post was viewed by 616,200 people and received 17,000 likes and 4,000 shares. 

The claim and collage were shared on Facebook, Instagram and Reddit as well.

Conclusion: A collage of images circulating on social media is actually of a Palestinian activist and singer, Saleh Aljafarawi who has been posting videos from the ongoing war in Gaza on his Instagram account. The images which claim that he is a crisis actor pretending to be different people, are either misleading, manipulated, or carry insubstantial evidence of the claim.

 

Background image in cover photo: X


To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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