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Monday, December 08, 2014

Just like the 'peace' it represents...

21 years after the photo was taken, it's been disclosed that the iconic photo above - which I am sure you have all seen - is a fake.
The Israeli boy in the yarmulke is Zvi Shapiro, the son of two secular American-Israelis. The Palestinian boy is Zemer Aloni, an Israeli Jew. The only real aspect of the photo is that the boys were indeed friends and that the picture was taken in their Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor, which straddles the 1949 armistice line and contains both a Jewish and an Arab section. The boys grew up on the Jewish side of the neighborhood, and while they both recall interactions with Palestinians, neither counted close friends on the other side of the line.
The picture was taken by Ricki Rosen, an American photojournalist who has been covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for 26 years. Rosen snapped the photo on assignment for Maclean’s, the national news magazine of Canada, for a cover story about the Oslo Peace Accords. Rosen said that the magazine’s art director was so specific in what he wanted that he even drew her a picture — one boy in a yarmulke, the other in a keffiyeh shot from the back walking down a long road, which was supposed to symbolize the road to peace. He didn’t care whether the boys were actually Israelis or Palestinians, nor did it occur to him that the Palestinian’s keffiyeh would be styled in a way more typical for elderly Palestinian men than for young boys.
“It was a symbolic illustration,” said Rosen. “It was never supposed to be a documentary photo.” She also took other real-life photos for the same article.
Rosen, who also lived in Abu Tor, asked her neighbor Haim Shapiro, then a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, if he would be willing to volunteer his young son for the Jewish boy in the assignment. “If there was any place to find a Palestinian kid who would agree to do this, it would have been Abu Tor,” said Rosen. “But I didn’t look because I thought it would be a very difficult thing. The relations had completely broken down after the first intifada, and Palestinians were very fearful of being seen as collaborating with Israelis because collaborators were being killed.” Instead, Zvi Shapiro’s best friend Zemer Aloni, who lived a block away, would wear the keffiyeh. Aloni said that the fact that he has “Eastern roots” — his father is an Iranian Jew — made him an appropriate choice for the job.
On the day of the shoot, Rosen brought a keffiyeh that she used to leave on her dashboard on reporting trips to the West Bank during the first intifada — a safeguard against her vehicle being pelted by stones and Molotov cocktails — and dressed 12-year-old Aloni in it. Zvi Shapiro, then 11, donned a yarmulke, and the two went for a walk on the nearby Sherover Promenade.
“Ricki told us to just talk to each other,” said Shaprio. “It’s also funny because I don’t think we would have necessarily put our arms around each other the way we are.” Rosen shot several images of the pair that day, including one from the front that is rarely reproduced.
Read the whole thing.

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