The photo that shocked Israel in 1984 and sparked a change in self-image.
I’m returning here to my infamous Bus 300 photo, in which one sees – obviously alive and well – one of two Palestinian hijackers whom the Shin Bet security service claimed had been killed during a hostage rescue. I wouldn’t think of bringing the subject up again if it hadn’t been for the changes in Israeli attitudes toward the Palestinians over the last 25 years. The photo shocked the country in 1984 because it was proof of the lies and criminal acts of the security apparatus.
Who would respond these days with the same powerful emotion to the murder of two Palestinian bus hijackers as we did in those innocent times when every injury to a Palestinian, not to mention a killing, led to an investigation? Since then, mutual hatred has only worsened and summary executions have become routine. We have long become insensitive to death, of Jews as well as Palestinians.
Today the military censor would not close a newspaper for three days, as it did to the now-defunct Hadashot, which published the photo. And who would set up an investigative committee, who would punish those responsible, who would change the laws governing the Shin Bet? But the thought that evokes the greatest sadness is whether we can say with certainty in 2009 that the Israeli media is the watchdog of democracy.
The Bus 300 photo has been the high point of my career as a photojournalist. It’s not just that I collected a first-rate scoop; the picture sparked a change in the way Israeli society looked at itself. It confirmed the truth in the cliche that a picture is worth a thousand words.
A short philosophical remark is in order here about the essence of photographs. The power of this photo lies in what it doesn’t show, the moment after, the moment when skulls were smashed, an act former Shin Bet agent Ehud Yatom later admitted to. The moment of the unbearable lightness of death.
Filed under: ANTI-ISRAEL, ISRAEL, ISRAELI-APARTHEID POLICY, occupation, Racism/hate, reflections, Resistance, settlers, shoah, VIDEO & PICTS, zionism | Tagged: Alex Levac, Bus 300, Palestinian, Palestinian hijackers, shin bet, Shin Bet lie |