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At an Exhibition of Photographs of Israel, Some Wonderful Images, and Much Foolishness

March 25 2016

This Place, currently at the Brooklyn Museum, displays 574 pictures of Israeli scenes taken by a dozen accomplished photographers. In his review, William Meyers notes that there are “some wonderful images,” but the exhibit’s attempt to convey a message is at best meaningless and at times something worse:

[One of the photographers, Josef] Koudelka, calls the wall Israel built to protect itself from the suicide bombings of the second intifada “a crime against the landscape,” and his extensive documentation makes clear how ugly it is. In his text, Koudelka, one of the world’s great photographers, makes an analogy between Israel’s wall and the Berlin Wall—but the analogy is off. The latter was built to keep people prisoner, to prevent their escape; the former for security, any country’s first responsibility.

For “Desert Bloom,” a series of aerial views of sites associated with the Bedouin of the Negev, Fazal Sheikh began by consulting B’Tselem, . . . Breaking the Silence, and [other] far-left groups that cloak their activities in the rhetoric of human rights but seek to discredit Israel. Aerial photography requires interpretation to be understood, and these pictures, which purport to show Israel’s indifference to its Bedouin citizens and a disregard for environmental concerns, actually document the need for the plans that the government has been trying for several years to implement to improve the educational, health and employment opportunities in the region.

[The exhibit’s organizer and prime fundraiser, Frédéric] Brenner, in [an] interview, . . . said, “I came to feel that only through the language of artists could we hope to create an encounter that truly reflected the complexity of the place, with all its rifts and paradoxes.” This is the hyperbole of fundraising, Brenner’s strong suit. The parties to the conflict . . . will not be swayed by the language of artists. Only donors will.

Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: Arts & Culture, Bedouin, Breaking the Silence, Israel & Zionism, Museums, Photography

 

Toward an Iran Policy That Looks at the Big Picture

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech outlining a new U.S. approach to the Islamic Republic. Ray Takeyh and Mark Dubowitz explain why it constitutes an important and much-needed rejection of past errors:

For too long, a peculiar consensus has suggested that it is possible to isolate the nuclear issue from all other areas of contention and resolve it in a satisfactory manner. The subsidiary [assumption] embedded in this logic is that despite the bluster of Iran’s rulers, it is governed by cautious men, who if offered sufficient incentives and soothing language would respond with pragmatism. No one embraced this notion more ardently than the former secretary of state, John Kerry, who crafted an accord whose deficiencies are apparent to all but the most hardened partisans. . . .

A regime as dangerous as the Iranian one requires no less than a comprehensive strategy to counter it. This means exploiting all of its vulnerabilities, increasing the costs of its foreign adventures, draining its economy, and aiding our allies. Most importantly, the United States must find a way of connecting itself to domestic opposition that continuously haunts the mullahs.

Washington should no longer settle for an arms-control agreement that paves Iran’s path to a bomb but rather a restrictive accord that ends its nuclear aspirations. The United States should not implore its allies to share the Middle East with Iran, as Barack Obama did, but partner with them in defeating the clerical imperialists. And most importantly, the United States should never forget that its most indispensable ally is the Iranian people.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, Mike Pompeo, U.S. Foreign policy