Thursday, December 18, 2014


Michael L.

1967People despise ambiguity.

It is far more comforting when we know what we know that we think that we know.

Hen Kotes-Bar has a piece at Y-Net entitled, Iconic Six-Day War photo recreated at Western Wall.

Like most people who care about the well-being of Israel, I love this photograph.  It is, of course, the iconic photo from the 6 Day War when these paratroopers participated in the liberation of Jerusalem.

It is a terrific shot despite photographer David Rubinger's professional misgivings.

Hen Kotes-Bar writes:
47 years after three soldiers were photographed gazing in amazement upon the Western Wall, they returned to recall the unforgettable moment.

The three soldiers were Dr. Yitzhak Yifat, Zion Karasanti, and Haim Oshri, all members of the same paratrooper battalion that took part in the battle for Jerusalem's Old City. The moment they glimpsed the wall for the first time was captured by photographer David Rubinger.

The historic photo, showing the first Israelis to reach the sacred wall since it fell into Jordanian hands in 1948, has become a symbol of the Six-Day War.

Today, Yifat and Karasanti are 70, Oshri a year younger. Rubinger turned 90 this past summer. But despite his age, he lay on the ground just as he did nearly half a century ago to recreate the exact angle. Unlike then, someone quickly sounded a shofar. People gathered around, including some who were born decades after the battle for the city, and thanked the former soldiers.
And here are these same gentleman today in the exact same spot photographed by the same photographer at a similar angle.

2014I have to wonder what it must have been like to live out one's adulthood as an iconic figure?  The photo above is deeply romantic.  These are young men in their prime who just liberated Jerusalem.

I have no doubt that their mothers were impossible to live with among their friends after the publication of this shot.

The gentlemen on the right, however, are actual human beings.  These are not icons.  These are not superheroes.  These are human beings who, despite that drawback, have every right to be damn proud.

When the original photo was taken in June of 1967, I was barely born.  When my parents saw it in the newspaper, presumably the New York Times, it would have meant less than nothing to me.

Yet, like every Jewish kid from my generation, I grew up with that picture.  It was not in our faces all of the time - not by any means - but every time it showed up we knew exactly what it meant.  It meant the liberation of the Jewish people.  It meant freedom from dhimmitude or subservience to others.

There was nothing the least bit ambiguous about it.  It was, and is, pristine in a certain kind of way.  It represents both innocence and liberation and what could be more beautiful than that?

But this new photo of Dr. Yitzhak Yifat, Zion Karasanti, and Haim Oshri is human and is thus almost jarring in its juxtaposition to the original.  The reason for this is because the latter picture diminishes the former by undermining its beauty, youthfulness, and romanticism.  It is as if honesty and age and the truth of the moment somehow take something away from the iconic photo.

This is the way it feels to me, at least, for what little that may be worth.

But there is no question that the original photo is going to resonate with me until the day I die.

In a certain sense, however, nothing has changed.

The Jewish people are still fighting for our freedom.


  1. Well, since I'm already here, yes I love that photo too and I agree the newer one does take something away from it.
    I also think it should be tattooed to the forehead of every EU minister, and then watch out for the return of the Beatle haircut (bangs).

  2. btw, I want to say one other thing about the original photo.

    Part of the reason that it is as powerful as it is - I think - is due to the fact that you have the sweet-faced boy in the center, Karasanti, flanked by Yifat, to his right, and Oshri to his left.

    Those guys, to my eyes, look like palookas and good for them!

    If there is one thing that the Jewish people could use, I think, it is more palookas.

    If you want to know how Israel won the 6 Day War so readily, just look at those faces.

    What I see is both innocence and total determination.