July 28, 2014

Gaza's 9/11?

Depending on how associative your mind is, this AP photo from Gaza City can be seen to draw a visual analogy between 9/11 and the shattering hurt still unfurling in Gaza this deathly season.

To the extent this photo draws on the scenes from New York, however (the dots assumingly connected in an editor’s mind), I would say that its hyperbolic. In other words, the physical and human damage, and yes, the terror evident in the daily photos we’ve seen for weeks now from Gaza have been so powerful that this analogy is not just unnecessary, but superfluous. (Taken on July 8th but featured Wednesday on AP’s photo blog, it’s appearance without a proximal caption further frees the photo to align, if quite subtlety, with the imagination. (I found the caption elsewhere, supplied below.)

Because photos appear in packages as much as singly these days, this was probably envisioned as an artistic compliment as part of a Gaza slideshow. It’s not just artful as a silhouette, however, but for synaptic dialogue with America’s enduring cataclysm.

It’s both reminiscent of the towers reduced to those unforgettable lattices of twisted steel as well as scenes first responders combing the smoldering rubble. (Not to mention, that column still standing with the antennae-like rebar has the shape of one of the towers intact.)

Talking so literally about shadows and echoes, such profoundly sacred ones besides, some would surely argue that the connection to Gaza 7/14— in the ratio of shock and force, as well as the political and religious hammer attached to it— justifies the comparison. Then to others, the idea of America’s great wound — one delivered by radical Islamists — being lent to Muslims and Arabs with their own semblance of air power and capacity for terror renders the analogy intently sacrilegious. But isn’t that reach and volatility what earns a photo a place in the slideshow, and ultimately, the chance to have its way with our non-verbal minds?

Ultimately though, given how the straightforward Gaza photos we are being inundated with so fire the nerve endings, why overreach?

(photo 1: Khalil Hamra/AP. caption: Palestinians try to salvage what they can of their belongings from the rubble of a house destroyed by an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Israel launched what could be a long-term offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the military said, striking at least 50 sites in Gaza by air and sea and mobilizing troops for a possible ground invasion in order to quell rocket attacks on Israel. photo: AP. caption: Firefighters make their way over the ruins and through clouds of smoke at the World Trade Center in New York. photo 3: Getty Images. photo 4: Mark Lennihan/AP. caption: In this Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 file photo, with the skeleton of the World Trade Center twin towers in the background, New York City firefighters work amid debris on Cortlandt St. after the terrorist attacks.)

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Michael Shaw
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