Interview with Me
Menachem Kuchar, documentary photographer, orange protester and participant, conversing with Aleksander Czyzewski.
Have you heard of political movements using this colour in the Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine?
Did the protest movement have some sort of standard name, like the revolution in Ukraine?
From where do you think the opponents of the withdrawal from Jewish settlements [in Gaza] took the idea to decorate cars, clothes, etc, in orange?
When did you see the orange mark for the first time?
People also decked their houses and cars with orange ribbons and flags. If people flew an Israeli flag, they added an orange ribbon to it. Orange ribbons flew from car antennae. During the year of protest the whole country was literally covered in orange.
There were some counter demonstrations. The Left started to tie blue ribbons to their cars. By this they wanted to show that they supported Israel, accompanied by a willingness to cede territories. Then some [Orange] people began displaying blue and orange elements together, to demonstrate an [overall] love for Israel, not just for Gush Katif but also for Tel Aviv. The blue campaign waned.
Did orange symbolise passive resistance?
But we are Jews, and Jews are not aggressive (laughter) [I assume I laughed at that point in the interview]. This is part of our mentality (contingent upon merchants persecution. Even now, when we have independence, are not be napastliwi in such situations [lost in the translation]). No one wanted civil war, or even the impression of civil war.
Someone told me that at the Hebrew University, people who previously liked to wear orange clothes, no longer did so, since it had become a political statement with which they did not particularly wish to be identified. Thus orange became the unique colour of the opponents to the withdrawal from Gaza.
It is therefore presence orange wrought on such an impression unto the LORD? [I can't understand this translation.]
It was also, certainly, visible to the Left. [I'm not sure what the Polish text is really saying, but I said that while I did not follow the orange campaign completely, I carried my camera with me wherever I went and photographed extensively.]
Do you think that this was associated with the orange yellow stars of the Nazi era persecution in Europe?
I think that people did not want to give the Left an easy argument that converts the whole matter into something radical[? the word here did not translate]. No-one claimed a Holocaust was taking place here, but rather that Gush Katif is an important part Israel, with strategic importance, and that Jews had made their homes there [under government auspices]. In addition to this, an orange star would imply the protestors thought the government to be antisemitic.
Did orange demonstrate resistance with peaceful intentions?
What was the protesters reaction to the police and military?
I think that the army invested a lot in the mental preparation of the soldiers. When travelling to and from Gush Katif, I would stop and talk to soldiers [along the road]. It was clear that the majority were against the withdrawal. Therefore the army had to really apply itself in the preparation of the soldiers in order to carry out the expulsion.
What was the reaction to your photographs in Israel and abroad?
Did Arab propaganda associate orange with Zionism?
Efrat, June 2009
Photographs by Menachem Kuchar from his collection Actualities in Black and Ornage are presented at the exhibition Orange Revolutions at the Museum of Ethnographyin Warsaw from 27th October, 2009.
Menachem Kuchar was born in Australia where he completed his formal education.
When he was eight years old, his uncle gave him an old Kodak box camera. He took many pictures over a number of years with this simple device and also dabbled with developing and contact printing. It was only many years later though that Kuchar started to do serious photographic work. He set up a darkroom with friends in Australia and continued to produce diverse photographic work in both black & white and colour until moving to Israel in 1983.
Without a darkroom, Kuchar's photographic output dropped and displays of his work were limited to the walls of his home. Kuchar strongly believes that the camera is only a part of producing the photograph, work in the darkroom constituting a major part the creative process.
With the latest advances in photography, Kuchar has switched to digital cameras and to the digital darkroom. He says the new technology has allowed him to turn the clock back over twenty years, to again produce fine art photography and to further his creative development.
During 2005 Kuchar held two one-man shows. The first of these, entitled "Eating Out in Thailand", was in March at the Little Gallery by the Efrat library. The second, entitled "Actualities in Black and Orange", was in the summer at the Gush Katif Hotel and featured the first photographs in the Black & Orange collection. In January 2006, Kuchar's first book was released. The launch of the book coincided with a one-man show of more than 60 photographs at the Judaica Centre in Gush Etzion.
Kuchar is married to Jillian. Together with their six children, they have lived in Efrat for twenty-five years.
Kuchar currently uses a Canon 5D Mark II camera. Photographs are post processed using the GIMP under Linux.
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