[Update (25th July 2014): on the 24th of July, the Islamic State destroyed the Tomb of the Prophet Jonah – indeed, the entire Mosque of the Prophet Yunus. This blog post accurately debunks a piece of propaganda that claimed its destruction before.]
People with contacts in Mosul continue to report that the Tomb of Prophet Jonah has been destroyed, so there is cause for pessimism (though at least some people in Mosul say that it has not). Nonetheless, the video has absolutely nothing to do with any possible destruction in Mosul. Still, despite evidence (which Christopher Jones @cwjones89, Chuck Jones @AWOL_tweets and I @conflictantiq pieced together publicly, and which Christopher also blogged), despite proof and more proof (via @truthsMaster), and despite explanations of the harm of spreading false evidence (especially false evidence of real events), the video will not die. Yet not only is the video propaganda, it is recycled propaganda.
Even media that acknowledge the contrary evidence still headline that the Islamic State(1) claims to have destroyed Jonah’s Tomb. But I’ve found a source that proves that the video is at least ten months old.(2) As Press TV used the video to explain on the 24th of September 2013, ‘insurgents have reportedly destroyed a number of [the] oldest Jewish mausoleums in the historic town of Tadouf, in the north-western Aleppo Province’. (So, whether or not the TV station knew, the Alghadeer TV report on the 21st of January 2014 was propaganda.)
Adding another level of uncertainty, various Arabic-speakers have identified the figures in the notorious video as either Syrian or Egyptian Arabic-speakers. Could this video be even older and from even further away than we understand so far?
Update (16th July 2014)
Arabic-language media, Iranian state propaganda
Christopher Jones has found an Israeli Arabic Media report on the Press TV report. As Arabic Media observed (as I’ve machine-translated then checked word by word), there does ‘not seem to be any sign of their being Jewish graves on the tombstones themselves, in addition to the fact that the graves are painted green, the colour of Islam [לא נראה על המצבות עצמן סימן להיותן מצבות של יהודים, זאת נוסף על העובדה שהקברים צבועים בירוק, צבעו של האסלאם]’.
Is it possible that this is the original piece of propaganda, in particular because there are objects over the tops of the headstones (which might otherwise conclusively demonstrate the non-Jewish identity of those entombed)? Not many descendants would have visited the graves to leave anything, and I’ve never seen anything like that left on graves like that.
Propaganda and truthiness
‘Researching this & related news items’, Christopher has also found that ‘there is a wide network of probably astro-turfed pro-Assad internet media.’ I agree.
Unfortunately, as well as outright propaganda from every side, there are “historical fiction”-style fakes, where people either knowingly or uncaringly put together photos and videos that look like radio or print reports with those reports (or even rumours); there are journalists, cultural heritage professionals and other citizens who have political sympathies or vested interests…
1: the Islamic State is also known as the Caliphate, Da’ash, Da’esh, Da’ish, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
2: Oddly, I found the video via a blog that recognised that the video was being manipulated, but still believed that the tomb had been destroyed because the Mufti of Egypt, Dr. Shawki Alam, condemned its destruction. I don’t think the mufti has better sources than anyone else. I think he just believed the unproven-but-plausible reports and condemned the destruction on that basis.