Russian propagandist misuses Gaza war photo for Ukraine conflict

A columnist and blogger for pro-Kremlin paper used a picture of Israeli shielding a baby during Operation Protective Edge, claiming it was a Ukrainian civilian separatist.

Tweet showing misapporpirated Israeli picture of Eliran Fitoussi, used for Russian propaganda purposes (photo credit: TWITTER)
Tweet showing misapporpirated Israeli picture of Eliran Fitoussi, used for Russian propaganda purposes
(photo credit: TWITTER)
During the Gaza war last summer, Eliran Fitusi became a media sensation in Israel when a photograph of him shielding an infant with his body during a missile alert went viral, making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter and showing up on news websites.
Last week, Russian Pavel Ryzhevsky, a columnist blogger for the pro-Kremlin Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper and a prominent youth activist with the ruling United Russia party posted the picture for his 200,000 followers on Twitter, claiming the Beersheba-based disc jockey was a civilian in separatist- controlled Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
“During the bomb attack a father saves a child with his own body. These are Donchane (Donbas people),” Ryzhevsky wrote, according to a translation provided by journalist Shimon Briman, who discovered the appropriated image.
This was the second time Ryzhevsky reused images from last summer’s Gaza war, said Briman, pointing out an picture of an Israeli woman kneeling over her child that he tweeted last year.
Ironically, Ukrainian Jewish leader Josef Zissels last year compared Ukraine and Gaza, invoking the specter of the on-again, off-again conflict between Israel and Hamas to express his pessimism regarding the future of organized Jewish life in the east of his country.
“The conflict that is frozen in Abkhazia and elsewhere in Georgia… where Russia came in with its own soldiers, there is no war there,” he said, referring to the 2008 Georgia war in which Russia conquered several territories.
“There are Jews there. Donbass is still hot [active fighting] and it’s going to stay that way for a very long time. It’s going to be just like Gaza, sometimes hot, sometimes cold.”
Jews have proven central to propaganda by both sides of the conflict, both of which have tried to show their opponents as anti-Semitic.
Several false news reports regarding anti-Semitic pogroms and the murder of community leaders have been issued by both sides.
However, while anti-Semitic rhetoric is a part of the conflict, locals have asserted that they feel more threatened by the war than by any specific threat against them as Jews.