momentary improvisation

What strikes you is how competitive they were. The bravado and the macho. The guy to nail the cover photo. Which meant a willingness to take risks. That which is nominally referred to as courage, was really pushing the boundaries into the realm of the irresponsible where the pathology of hubris can’t be overlooked. And it took and continues to take lives of those who roll the dice in this game, take the proverbial “last run” down the ski hill. Paul Schutzer is one of these brilliant photographers who perished as one of the first “embedded” or rather self embedded correspondent photographers to die. He just “had” to be in one of the lead vehicles entering Gaza in the Six Day War…

---At the end of the war, he found out about arranged marriages between survivors of the death camps and Palestinian soldiers. In Germany, he met Anni, who had marched between the extermination camps, and married her in a fictional "certificate wedding" to allow her to go to Israel. They never got divorced. As Israel went through the agonies and triumphs of a nation being born, David was there with his camera. Photographing for local newspapers, and eventually for Time-Life, he was on the front lines of every battle, becoming a friend and confidant of the people whowould eventually become Israel's leaders. His camera never turned away from the problems, recording the blood and tears.---Read More:

As a co-photographer, and friendly competitor with Schutzer:

David Rubinger: ( see link) …”Things began to heat up in May 1967 and I went to join the Israeli forces in the Negev. A few days before war broke out everything seemed to go quiet. I had dinner in Tel Aviv with a colleague, Paul Schutzer from Life magazine. We bet a bottle of champagne on who would get the first cover photograph. The war broke out on the Monday and Paul was killed the same day. Read More:

---Chance. An element that is really quite planned. It is the culmination of patience, hard work and constant trial and error. Then, at a certain moment, something is achieved, which seems to be a momentary improvisation, but is really the final product of trying and trying again. So it is in the photo Rubinger considers his "Signature" - the three paratroopers at the Wall. The Wall had been taken twenty minutes before. Shots were still being fired. Soldiers cried and so did Rubinger. He claims he was lying on the ground, photographing upwards, because he was scared. I refuse to believe that. Fear has not stopped him from running under fire on other occasions. He is not ashamed of the fear, but of the fact that at that historical moment he sought and found the correct angle. He had to lie down to photograph what seemed right. This photograph connects the old and the new, hope with stones that have been bled. Changing the angle might have separated the soldiers from the Wall. There is smiling and weeping, a helmet held in awe. This is the story of the war, what it did and will still do, where it came from and where it will still go. It is a moment plucked from the flight of time, but also powerful and accurate documentation of an event full of surprises - because it is a frozen moment. - Yoram Kaniuk---Read More:

Rubinger ( see link) : …I was with the Israeli forces that went into the Sinai. Just after the battle for El Arish, I overheard radio messages that something was going to happen in Jerusalem. A helicopter was taking away the wounded so I squeezed on. I didn’t know where it was going, but it landed in Beersheva, where I’d parked my car.

I was exhausted. I never trust anyone to drive my car, but I picked up a soldier who was hitchhiking and got him to drive while I slept. We arrived at 6am in Jerusalem and I went straight to see my family. I found out that Jerusalem had been taken and I headed for the Old City.I didn’t have any great feeling for Jerusalem, I just wanted to be the first with the photographs. There was still some sniping going on but the fighting was over. When I got there, it was very emotional. Everyone around me was crying.”
When I developed the film, I didn’t think much of the picture…

---Israeli crowd greeting the commando unit that rescued hostages in Entebbe, Ugan., July 1976.---Yes, sometimes this happens. It can happen to everyone. This happened to me with Time magazine when I was just starting. Time were considering one of my photographs to run with it on the cover, and they chose not to. The photograph was of an Israeli soldier with a gun, standing in front of an Arab soldier who he’d just shot moments before. The Arab soldier was dead. He was lying on the ground, and in his hand was a grenade he was about to throw at the Israeli. The Israeli soldier killed him first. Time magazine said the photograph looked too much like Israeli propaganda, it read like … ’Look we killed him before he would kill us all’. I got so angry at Time and sent them a very angry fax that said, ‘I am very upset by this, I am not in the habit of misleading people, stealing from the blind, or putting grenades in dead Arab’s hands. I don’t push my grandmother down the stairs and ask ‘Granny why were you running?’ At the time I was furious and very upset but now I look back and I think Time was right.---Rubinger. Read More:

“I think there was such euphoria because in the weeks before the war there was a sense of doom. The national stadium was prepared for 40,000 graves and even if we thought we might win, it would be a costly victory. The humour before the war was very dark. ‘Would the last person to leave please turn out the lights.’

We went from being doomed to having an empire. It was like a condemned man with the noose around his neck suddenly being told that not only was he going to live he was going to be the king. The nation went a little nuts. For the religious, the victory had to be God-given and that is how the whole Jewish messianic and settler movement was born.

I lay down to take the picture of the paratroopers because there was barely three metres between the Wailing Wall and the houses next to it. When I developed the film, I didn’t think much of the picture. I gave it to the army. They passed it on to the government press

ce which then distributed it to everyone for virtually nothing. I still don’t think it’s a great picture, but often iconic pictures are created by the media and what people read into them.” Read More:

Paul Schutzer photography. Sol Stern:Inexplicably, Hannah Arendt was AWOL during the desperate two years from 1942 to 1944, when the cause of rescuing European Jews needed the support of every person of influence. The Bergson group urged the Zionist parties to put aside their differences over the future of Palestine and, at least for the duration of the emergency, focus entirely on rescue. But Arendt continued attacking the leaders of the group as “charlatans,” “fascists,” and supporters of “terrorism”; the Democratic and Republican congressmen who supported the rescue committee were dupes, she wrote. The troubling question is why Arendt herself never advocated for the cause of rescue....Read More: image:

You can very much say that photojournalist work like Rubinger’s , essentially technological image, gives events what Walter Benjamin referred to as “posthumous shock.” A liberating potential? Benjamin said that only understanding a convergence of mediated images within the context of other forms of memory would reveal their true significance. This could be interpreted as possibly taking years to be de-contructed and reframed around the mobile and fluid characteristics of memory which is a huge inventory of mediated images. In Rubinger’s case, a narrative of national trauma, mixed with an intrinsic conflict between Zionism and traditional jewish belief in redemption and the messiah is fixed to the shock of that confrontation, and specifically the temporal and eternal, life and death ethos of competing intensities. However, the shock of an image, which registers history as a process of ruination and tragedy, at least to Benjamin,contains those kernels that can activate multiple different readings of history based on several
current expressions of the virtual, which in any event is bound up with technology in all its dangers saturating a shared imagery of social transformation.


I think much of the anti-Israel bias, the entire Boycott , activist and BDS movement, ultimately using the lofty language of human rights as a pretext for national destruction, owes a debt to the template established by academic wiz Hannah Arendt; the problem is that part of her bacteria, the chronic illness of Jew hatred, and in particular, traditional Judaism infects Israel’s small but highly powerful ruling elite, that bastion of secular “enlightened” values that effectively reduces what Moshe Koppell calls “jewish jews” in the unenviable position of tolerated guests, with a “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t range of responses available. Arendt utter contempt was unenviably demonstrated in her coverage of the Eichmann trial in its denigration of holocaust witness testimony.

( see link at end) …The question of the Palestinians is only important as an instrument to sow discord in the West, and little else. What is paramount in the minds of such religious adherents, a sacred and religious duty of each Muslim, no doubt, is to transform the world and rid it of Western ideas and ideals. For such minds, it’s a religious war and nothing more; and Israel’s destruction fits within their political-religious aims and ideals. It’s no mere rhetoric if it’s taught as part of the core curriculum to high school students. I would love someone to prove me wrong.

While it is easy to understand why Muslim students in Islamic nations believe what they are taught, as an article of faith, without questioning, it is harder to understand why American, Canadian , British and Israeli students believe the same thing. In the West, there is access to all kinds of credible sources, those that marshal fact upon fact to make an argument. It might be that facts are unimportant for many persons, and emotions more so, even if they lead to the wrong conclusion. No doubt, it’s an old-fashioned struggle between truth and falsehood, to use the language of Milton. Read More:

( see link at end) David Rubinger: I think no photograph is ever truthful, and no photo is ever unbiased. I am a documentary photographer, and you try and just document what is before you as much as possible. You are just a witness. As a war photographer you never, ever stage a photograph. That’s immoral. You never ask soldiers, or anyone to pose for you. You don’t ask a soldier to stand up in an armored tank to get a good photograph. You’ll get him murdered.

I think photojournalists are of great comfort to soldiers. And I’m talking about your average soldier – not corporals. I remember going into war and being in armored tanks, rolling into battle and being with these kids – just 18, 19 – who said, ‘If this old guy is with us, without a gun, it must be pretty safe’. They had no idea how wrong they were then, how dangerous it was. But you are a comfort in the horror.

There are no heroes in war, just shame and idiocy. If you’re afraid as a soldier, scared to go somewhere, soldiers are so ashamed to show this to each other in the most terrifying situations. There is so much shame in war. Everyone is so ashamed of what they’re doing or feeling.Read More:


from two of the subjects in Rubinger’s photo:

( see link at end) :Yitzak Yifat, 64, now an obstetrics and gynaecology surgeon: “I developed toothache when we arrived in Jerusalem and went into battle with my mouth still numb from the local anaesthetic. It was face-to-face fighting. I fought like a tiger. My friend was shot in the backside and he was about to be shot again by a Jordanian. I shot him. Another Jordanian saw I was out of bullets and he charged at me with a bayonet. I don’t know how I did it, but I took his gun and shot him with it. It was brutal, and a sad victory. I lost many friends. After the fighting we built a memorial to our friends – and one to the Jordanians, in honour of their bravery.”

Haim Oshri, 63, emigrated from Yemen to Israel in 1949: “The battle for Ammunition Hill was the worst moment of the war. There wasn’t a plan – we were just told to attack. The Jordanians were brave soldiers. Now it makes me angry to think of all the unnecessary casualties. If we had taken more time to plan, there would have been far fewer casualties.

As an Orthodox Jew it was special for me to be involved in the fight for Jerusalem. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Poland or Yemen, Jerusalem is our common bond. Every day we pray three times to Jerusalem, and I could never have imagined the magic of seeing the Kotel [Western Wall] for the first time.” Read More:

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