Page 103 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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HIRSCH / JEWS IN BOOKS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
95
with its desert sunsets, its lush foliage coating ancient ruins, and
the tex tu red hills o f Carmel: almost all pho tog raphe rs deal with
topography . T he more complex problem is no t aesthetic bu t
ideological and here subtle distinctions inform a variety o f ap ­
proaches. Some attend to historical continuity, and link biblical
archeology and the m odern state. This is the theme o f Freulich’s
and Abramson’s
The Faces of Israel
(New York, 1972) and Rubin’s
and Barkai’s
Pictorial History of Israel
(1st edition, 1958; 2nd edi­
tion, 1968). O thers view the land as a pagean t of faith and stress its
centrality in the history o f religion. The
Photo-Guide to the Old
Testament
(England, 1973), with pho tographs and notes by David
A lexander, shows the cultural diversity o f Israel bu t mainly in
allusions to biblical o r historical symbols: a basket of figs, a po tte r’s
hands, a few Arabs and a donkey walking beneath a sunlit Golden
Gate. O the r books jux tapose the ancient and the modern , a d if­
ficult balance, since the modern can be coarse — like the plump
girl trying on a mini-dress in W erner B raun ’s
Shalom Israel
(Tel
Aviv, 1972) and the ancient, contrived, like the picture o f an old
woman weaving at a loom and described with the words from
Exodus 39, “And they made the coats o f fine linen .” Tone is the
essential problem in p resen ting Israel. T h e pho tog raphers who
appear to resolve the tension between fact and passion most easily
are the ones who can abstract themselves from it.
T he problem o f tone is especially noticeable in picture books of
Jerusalem . Jay Maisel, in the Time-Life “G reat Cities” series
(Jerusalem
[Amsterdam, 1976]) negotiates between politics and
saccharin by focusing on symbols ra the r than people and monu­
ments. We see in his book tiny wads o f written supplication
stuffed into the crevices o f the Wailing Wall, and the votive lamps
inside the Church o f the Holy Sepulchre. Two volumes edited by
Cornell Capa display the pho tographs taken by an international
assortment o f pho tographers .
Jerusalem: City of Mankind
(New
York, 1974) contains some unusua l views. H ere a few Jerusa lem ­
ites, indistinguishable from o the r chilly mortals in the ir thick
jackets, walk beneath the Old City wall in the snow; and, indoors,
an Arab family relaxes at home.
T he passions tha t have created and plagued the state of Israel
are not only cultural and spiritual bu t also strategic; and a number
o f books o f pho tographs focus on war. Some o f these appear to be
government publications. Isaac A rad ’s
1000 Ha Yam’im
(Tel Aviv,
1972 [?]) contains not only pho tographs o f planes and tanks but