August 17, 2005

The Same Boat

(Note: This entry was mostly re-written about 8 hours after it was posted.  I apologize to readers who left comments referring to either my previous reflections, or to images that were replaced.)



For all of you who have written me about Gaza, I have an admission to make. 

Since I’ve been analyzing news images and illustrations, I’ve had something of a “pact to myself” to avoid Israel as subject matter.  As a Jew with conflicted feelings regarding Israeli aggression versus the right/need to protect a Jewish homeland, I always thought I could just work around the matter (at least BAG-wise). 

With all the email you have sent me, however, I don’t believe I can continue to finesse the subject — at least not this week. The last message I received on the pullout seemed to basically address my reticence.  Essentially, the appeal was to give the BAG audience a chance to study and react to selected images even if I chose to remain on the sidelines. 

Because I’ve admittedly been following the story with “just one eye,” I wasn’t sure what I would find on the newswire today. 

What I was shocked, but not surprised by, was the use of the Holocaust as an icon of resistance.  My assumption is that for most Jews, the use of this analogy is plainly hysterical.  But then, how would you go about  discussing with a Zionist “dead ender” where to symbolically draw the line?

In the second image above and in the pair below, I was thinking mostly about  extremism.  Obviously, this must be a day of joy and celebration for the Palestinians. The admittedly simplistic image of the boy and the flag depicts that hope and pride. The bottom image, however, is much more difficult and indicative of the complexity of the moment, as well as my own worries about the day. 

Regarding the picture specifically, I wish those boys in the first boat were not subjected to a world that seems to become more small-minded by the day. 

The reaction I have to that middle boat, though, is similar to the reaction I have to the extremists at the other end of this post.  I am forced — simply by birth and heritage — to abhor the jihadis.  At the same time, I can’t help seeing their bretheren as those “on my side” who spent this morning conjuring the gas chambers.



(image 1: Kerem Atzmona settlement in the Gaza Strip. August 17, 2005. Nir Kafri/AP at YahooNews; image 2: Neve Dekalim settlement, Gaza Strip.  August 17, 2005. Thomas Coex/AFP at YahooNews; image 3:  Morag Settlement. Southern Gaza Strip. August 17, 2005. Suhaib Salem/Reuters in YahooNews; image 4: At sea near Netzarim settlement. August 17, 2005. Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters at Yahoo News.)

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Michael Shaw
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