Somehow the story of the birth of Israel has been narrated into another story. In advance of this month’s UN’s International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People, Jewish- born researcher and visual theorist Ariella Azoulay brings over 200 photographs from the Israeli state archives to display with her accompanying text, a text which reframes the contexts in which the photos were originally taken.
Spanning 1947-50, the four years after the signing of the UN Resolution of Partition of Palestine, the photos in Israel to Palestine: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, show a very one-sided tale of events, with a mute subtext of opposition that is retrieved by Azoulay. What is striking about her approach is the hope she finds in the systematic reexamination of the past for future peace in the region and a reestablishment of the peaceful coexistence that predated the motions of state that began the never-ending war in the Middle East.
In the period covered by the exhibition, 750 thousand people were forcibly moved, yet photo of Israeli girl guides collecting rubble from ‘an abandoned village‘. Azoulay in our interview, points out that they are actually picking up the remnants of lives on ‘the scene of a crime’.
Azoulay says of the photos:
“The constituent violence recorded in photos from these years should not be mistakenly and anachronistically read as signs of unavoidable national conflict. What was and still is truly unavoidable is not national conflict, but rather co-existence of Jews and Palestinians in a shared territory and the open space for a variety of forms to shape, practice, express and represent this co-existence.”