Cameras as Weapons
Palestinians to document the attacks and abuses they suffer. Fidaa
Abu Aisha, left, a 16-year-old Palestinian, in Hebron with her camera,
which she uses to capture what her family says are the almost daily
attacks on them by nearby settlers. The police don't believe them or
ignore them. The B'Tselem project, Shooting Back, has resulted
in some startling videos of settler violence."
Photograph © Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times.
B'Tselem is among the groups working for peace in Israel that remain largely invisible here in the U.S.; I think this "Shooting Back" project, which aims to bring violence of settlers against Palestinians is a remarkably good idea. Some time ago I noted a book, Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine by David Shulman, himself a member of another Peace group called Ta‘ayush, which means roughly 'living together.' On my recent trip I finally had a chance to read the book. Beyond revealing the routine oppression and humiliation that Israeli policies visit upon Palestinian populations, Shulman also provides an insightful, reflective account of political activism as a string of partial, reversible attempts and achievements. One thing I noticed throughout Shulman's account is the centrality of cameras in the political struggles he describes. They appear in the hands of various agents of the (often foreign) press documenting life in Israel & Palestine, of Israeli police and military officers recording demonstrations and encounters, and of peace activists themselves. They seem to especially be a source of outrage - often provoking escalating violence - to settlers who are trying in various ways to drive Palestinians out of Israel.