Menachem's Writings

Photography for Propaganda
in the Arab-Jewish Conflict

Here in Gush Etzion, as in many communities and groups around the world, there are a number of Internet chat-groups. There's one in Efrat which is in English. The readership seems to tend to the right side of the political spectrum, though most of the postings are not politically oriented. You see useul and practical stuff like, "I need to get to Ben-Gurion airport tomorrow for a 5:00 a.m. flight -- anyone driving there at that time?" or "my son lost an unmarked envelope with a big wad of cash in it -- anyone (other than the P.M.) seen it anywhere?" I'm often surprised how often people receive positive and helpful replies. This chat-group really provides a great and needed community service.

But the politics definitely lean right of center.

So I was a bit surprised at the following post and the fact that it did not engender any comment. Could it be that no-one bothered to follow the link? Old topic -- even here, in the other Gush?


Please pass this on to your friends in New York. The photographer is our nephew, an Israeli who has been studying and teaching photography in New York and Boston, and who returned to Israel before the gerush [expulsion from Gush Katif] and after, to photograph the event [event? birthday party perhaps]. It is probably the most high-profile exhibit on this topic abroad. I can send the attachments (a flyer, photograph and links to web pages) to anyone interested to forward to your friends in New York.

I don't particularly want to advertise this guy, but you may want to have a look at his photographs before I go on discussing this issue further. I know that some of you will say that I'm jealous (which I definitely am -- I would love to exhibit in New York -- or New anywhere else for that matter) but I really believe this guy's politics are despicable. View the exhibition photographs here.

As no-one else did, I fired off a letter back to the list:

I had a look at Yoav's photographs.

He uses the "correct" left-wing clichés, like "Abandoned settlers home". Settlers? They had had enough of living in that house, so they abandoned it? Please!

A few politically correct photographs of the "Palestinian youth in Mawasi [the squalor next to Kfar Yam -- if the righteous leftwingers really cared about the Arabs, they would have cleaned this placeup for them years ago]" and other pictures from that established city. And of course a couple of photos of "Palestinian worker"s.

And how did he get into Ze'elim to photograph "Evacuation drills"?

He didn't have a clue where things (and I imagine people) were in Gush Katif. E.g. photo "Neve Dkalim community center" wasn't even taken in Neve Dekalim.

And not one photo of people or life in the Gush as it was!



I'm expecting some response to this from the list. (I will post anything interesting.) The aunt, who definitely thinks in right-wing terms, will probably be defensive (is blood thicker than politics?). I think anyone who was ever in the Gush [Katif], especially towards the end, will be sympathetic to my point of view.

[As I am penning these words (now that's an anachronism), the aunt dropped us a line. She is sending my note to the photographer for his comments. That's good; should be interesting, but we won't be able to post his response until after shabbat, so tune in then.]

It's no secret that I extensively photographed in the Gush and at background events leading up to the expulsion. I held an exhibition and book launch in the Gush Etzion Judaica Center. It was very well attended (over 400 people out here in the sticks -- comments from the visitors' book).

I'm sure there must be someone in New York who is interested in an exhibition countering the left-wing, government propaganda in Yoav's exhibition. By having access to photograph in the Ze'elim army camp, he virtually gives away that he was "returned" to Israel for the purpose of propaganda. But in Israel, nothing is certain; he may have an "old friend" who is an officer at that army base and thus arranged for his entrance.

After writing the most of this blog entry, I looked properly at the gallery's website and noticed the following (bolds are my additions and so are the comments in square brackets) -- I know, I should have looked earlier -- but you're all getting to know me from these postings.

While the army and the police forces trained and prepared mentally for the coming events, and Palestinian workers were dismantling agricultural greenhouses for Israeli farmers living [living? -- they were just thrown out!] on the Strip, settlements in Morag, Bdolach, Neve Dkalim and Rafih Yam consisted of abandoned houses [living?]. He visited Palestinian villages nearby and talked to their residents. They were looking forward to returning to their homes and beaches after years of restrictions. [The houses that were on the beach were actually built by the Egyptian army for holiday houses for their officers. The Mawasi settlers never lived in these houses -- it's a total untruth! a fabrication.]

We sent that extract to auntie. She replied the following (my comments are in maroon):

I just wrote to him directly about that.

He's not left wing. He hasn't lived in Israel for more than 10 years (Oh you mean he is a yored, and as a consequence, apolitical?) and he grew up in a Likud family (like the Livnis, Olmerts, Meridors and Negbis? -- take your pick) (albeit he has a brother married to the daughter of Danny Rubenstein (of Davar and Israel is an "apartheid state" fame?)).

He's very close to all his "settler" cousins (as in "some of best friends are . . . Please note of these settler cousins actually lived in Gush Katif).

He came to Israel and managed to get into Gush Katif after the gerush, but when they were still allowing some Israelis in I don't remember exactly which day. (Well it was after the expulsion because everything is being taken down, the houses are just waiting for the arrival of the infamous D9's to "finish the job". I had been in and out of the Gush a few times in the last two weeks (of Jewish residency there) and it wasn't easy to "cross over to there", even if you had a permit -- which we did -- but it was almost impossible to get one -- unless of course you were serving the disengagement forces purposes . . . and that still doesn't explain how he got into Ze'eilm.)

In his case, these errors are misinformation. (Well I definitely agree with that, but I'm not sure it's what you meant. We are talking about an exercise in "misinformation" -- fullstop!)

So let's ask the theater to sell my book. At least there will be some evenhandedness.

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