Sunday, January 15, 2017

Budding Artists - Arad, Israel

This is a group of eight photos I shot while in Arad, Israel. Some in an elementary school, a few at an arts fair.








Thursday, January 12, 2017

Another Demonstration At The UN

A photograph can be a very powerful tool to express the shooter's feelings and put forward his message. The most powerful photographs are a combination of beautiful artistry and craft that catches the viewer's eye, and powerful message to engage the viewer's curiosity and invite him to question his response to the subject of the photo.

I'm a proud Jew. I'm a firm believer in Israel's right to exist with the defensible borders it established after it's 1967 defensive war against the Arab coalition that sought to destroy the State of Israel. I seek out opportunities to photograph Jews at worship and Zionists living as proud Jews, rallying and expressing their voice in support of Israel. I don't work for a newspaper or news agency, nor do I pretend to any kind of neutrality or evenhandedness in my documentary photography work.

My favorite Israeli politician and my hero is Menachem Begin. He was the commander and leader of the underground organization called IRGUN which, along with the Stern Gang - run by Itzhak Shamir - were principally responsible for encouraging the colonialist British to quit their 'mandate' government in the Middle East. Begin's and Netanyahu's hero was Zeb Jabotinsky, whom I also admire.

My two favorite quotes of Begin's follow.

1) Said to then Senator Joseph Biden (the same) when he threatened Begin with cutting off US aid to Israel:

'Don't threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our own country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it. We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again with or without your aid.'

2) Said to the US ambassador to Israel when called into the Prime Minister's office:

'Now you once again declare that you are punishing Israel. What kind of expression is this - "punishing Israel"? Are we a vassal state of yours? Are we a banana republic? Are we youths of fourteen who, if they don't behave properly, are slapped across the fingers? Let me tell you who this government is composed of. It is composed of people whose lives were spent in resistance, in fighting and in suffering. You will not frighten us with "punishments". He who threatens us will find us deaf to his threats. We are only prepared to listen to rational arguments. You have no right to "punish" Israel - and I protest at the very use of this term. You want to make Israel a hostage of  the memorandum of understanding. I regard your announcement suspending the consultations on the memorandum as the abrogation (by you) of the memorandum. No "sword of Damocles" is going to hang over our head. So we duly take note of the fact that you have abrogated the memorandum of understanding. The people of Israel have lived 3,700 years with a memorandum of understanding with America - and it will continue to live for another 3,700.'

At the end of December, 2016 I attended a Pro-Israel rally at the UN protesting Obama's stab in the back of Israel. That blogpost can be seen here. Another Pro-Israel rally popped up at the French embassy, so I eagerly attended that one also.












Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Random Shots

Took a quick walk around Manhattan today just to exercise my shooting finger.



Thursday, December 29, 2016

UN Demonstration

This past Wednesday a spontaneous demonstration developed at the United Nations to protest the Security Council's resolution condemning Israel's settlement policy. The demonstration was led by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. I can't say that I subscribe to all of the rabbi's positions, but I have to give him credit and show respect for his courage and forthrightness in standing up for the Jews and Israel. The resolution is an abomination passed by what is increasingly becoming an anachronistic organization, the UN. As information is revealed about the resolution it has become increasingly apparent that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry exerted considerable arm twisting to get the resolution passed in the Security Council, while at the same time exercising an abstention on the resolution to let it pass.

Obama, being a lame duck president, and Kerry can only be seen as acting out of spite against the State of Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu because the President and his henchman were not able to impose their vision of a weak and enfeebled Israel on the Jews.

Netanyahu, much to his credit, was outspoken and clear in his response. Israel will not bow. Israel has never asked the US to fight its wars for her. The country is confident and capable enough to stand up against its enemies, as has been demonstrated time and again over the past 70 years. Even though Great Britain voted for the resolution, given the post-resolution fallout, she has been admirably supportive of Israel and critical of the Obama's administration actions. Methinks there was considerable heat placed on Great Britain to sway their vote on this matter.

I hope that after Obama and Kerry are out of office, the critics of their policy continue to investigate and keep the heat on these two petulant children. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see both of their public careers destroyed by this despicable maneuver.







Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hanukkah - Part 2

Many years ago when I was a kid, I always looked forward to lighting the Hanukkah menorah. Still do, I guess I'm still a kid.



Thursday, December 22, 2016

Expressions

Faces and situations are the most engaging subjects for me when I'm out shooting street. The holiday shopping season on Fifth Avenue offers a plethora of opportunities.




Sunday, December 18, 2016

Hanukkah -Part 1

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is fast approaching. Purely by chance it coincidently occurs - at least the first night and day - with Christmas. The festival celebrates an event that occurred two hundred years BCE (before the common era) so it predates Christmas by that many years. Other than occurring during the same month of the Gregorian calendar, the two holidays have nothing in common. A detailed explanation of the festival can be found here.

Briefly, at that time - 200 BCE - the territory of biblical Israel was dominated by a Syrian extension of the Greek empire. Their rulers tried to impose their philosophy of life which was the antithesis of the deep spirituality that formed the roots of Judaism for many hundreds of years prior. The Syrians sought, as so many oppressors of the Jews before and after them have sought, to break the spirit and will of the Jews by forcing them to give up their ritual practices through which they worshipped their faith in G-d. The priests in the Holy Temple at that time were of the family of Maccabee who also happened to be mighty warriors. The struggle they led was not only against the Syrians, but also because many of the Jews at that time bought into Greek philosophy and the culture was assimilating. So as it turned out, this was also an internal struggle amongst the Jews. The Syrians tried to break the spirit of the Jews by defiling the Holy Temple and specifically the olive oil that had been sanctified by the Great Priest to be burned in the Lamp of the Temple. They failed. After the Maccabees defeated the Syrian Greeks and entered the Temple, they found all the jugs of sanctified oil had been defiled, except for one that still had the Great Priest's seal in tact. The jug contained enough oil for only one day, but eight days were required for production, purification, and sanctification of more oil. The miracle of the holiday, which is what the festival of Hanukkah commemorates, is that the oil in that one jug lasted for eight days. And so the Hanukkah Menorah, a nine branch candelabra, is lit every night for eight successive days to commemorate the miracle. 

The Hanukkah Menorah is the central symbol of the miracle and the festival. Here's some local kids at a Home Depot workshop, sponsored by my local Chabad Center, making menorahs.