Thursday, May 11, 2006

Re-Engaging with Museums

Museums generally aren’t my thing. I wish I appreciated art, but unfortunately I can’t really tell the difference between Rembrandt and Renoir, Dali and Degas or Pissaro and Picasso.

Yet last week I went to the Tel Aviv Museum to see an exhibition on the Disengagement. It had various photos from a range of artists and photographers, as well as several videos, one of which followed Arik and Dati Yitchaki and their three children of the Kfar Hayam settlement for a year before the disengagement.

After attracting hundreds of volunteers to help prevent the withdrawal, and armed with two pistols and an M16, Arik finally negotiates with the IDF to hand in his weapons in exchange for being able to leave in a dignified way (which in his case is being carried out by soldiers)

I thought it was pretty fair, but maybe that’s just me being subjective. And it made me wonder how we can talk about political or emotive issues without being biased or political?

boy offering sweets to soldiers during Disengagement

And watching the tears and pain on behalf of the settlers and soldiers the question is how can we put over a complexity that involves describing the pain of the Jews who had to leave their homes whilst simultaneously demonstrating the ‘complications’ Gaza Palestinians faced due to the presence of those Jews; deny with disgust inappropriate comparisons with the Shoah on the one hand, yet have the humanity to identify with fellow citizen’s pain on the other.

Can we feel the tears of families forced to pack their life’s belongings with the harsh truth that an island of 8,000 Jews amongst 1.3 m Palestinians is an anathema to the idea of a Jewish Democratic State; balance the appreciation of the beautiful multicoloured sunrise with the knowledge of the number of soldiers needed to protect those that enjoy it.

How can we resolve the empathy with those feeling betrayed by their government without ignoring the compensation ‘sweetener’ that many blue collar workers supporting a family in Tel Aviv dream of.

When talking about the ‘settlers’ how does one distinguish between those people who had lived in Gaza for 30 years, built lives from the sand and those who came a few weeks before to cause trouble and abuse soldiers. Between those that believe Gd gave us the land and think the Arabs are enemies, and those that came for the cheap housing and the good beaches?

And finally how in a country that doesn’t have a word for subtlety, can these discussions be had in a reasonable and respectful manner, without using words such as occupy or expel?

For anyone who has some spare time in Tel Aviv, the museum is well worth checking out.


Aliza said...

That is a beautiful post and I think you've just summed up what so many of us are feeling and trying to process.

Anonymous said...

Looks nice! Awesome content. Good job guys.