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May 04, 2008

The Tale of the Missing Album

Last week's Ha'aretz magazine carried a feature article about the fate of a photo album belonging to the late Ali Zaarour, a Palestinian Arab photographer who documented the region for decades. A letter by Evyatar Englard of Tel Aviv in this week's magazine provides a penetrating analysis of the Ha'aretz article:

Regarding "Black, white and bloody," Haaretz Magazine, April 18

An unfortunate thing happened to Dalia Karpel. Before the publication of her article, which deals with a photo album that was presumably "stolen" 40 years ago from the home of Ali Zaarour, the country's first Muslim photographer, and which was returned to the family by the Israel Defense Forces' archives - it turned out that the album had not been stolen, but rather taken by the photographer's brother-in-law and given as a gift to his Jewish employer.

This new information, which according to the article was discovered only a month ago, overturns the family's version to the effect that the album was stolen by IDF soldiers. The version of the Palestinian family, which for the sake of caution we will consider to be erroneous, is presented in a documentary directed by producer Liran Atzmor, which will be aired on Independence Day and will also be broadcast by the BBC and by Arte.

The reader of the article is also left with the clear impression that the family's version is the correct one, with the dramatic new information downplayed toward the end of the article. The result is a political piece that treats the album story as a precedent-setting case of Palestinian property being restored to its owner, as a kind of metaphor for other Palestinian property that should be returned.

An interesting question relates to the reaction to this information by the creators of the documentary film, which will be distributed internationally. Karpel did not think this subject important.

Posted by TS at May 4, 2008 07:34 AM


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