Israel, 50 Years : As Seen by Magnum Photographers

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9780893817749: Israel, 50 Years : As Seen by Magnum Photographers
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"When I aired my doubts about Israel's immigration policy to one of the high government officials, he told me: 'By any logic, the creation of the state of Israel was not possible. It was born through a will stronger than reason, and grew through suffering greater than human beings are expected to support.' But the new country, born out of victorious battle, is granted no peace."--Robert Capa, 1948

The year 1998 marks the fiftieth anniversary of a unique nation and the struggle that returned Jews to their homeland after centuries in exile. Israel: 50 Years celebrates the climactic forging of the Jewish state with images by the Magnum photographers who were there to record the daily life, joys, and sorrows of the Jews, Arabs, and Christians living in Palestine at the time of Israel's founding in 1948.

Israel's struggles and the life and culture of its people have been well documented, but never has a single volume captured so vividly the underlying forces of this epic story. Many of these memorable images alerted the world to the unfolding drama of a new nation as it began; others, taken as recently as yesterday, capture the youth of contemporary Israel, members of a new generation who want to move beyond old conflicts.

From its tenuous beginnings to the present day, Israel has been a special assignment for Magnum. Founding members Robert Capa and David Seymour were themselves Jewish émigrés from central Europe who shared enormous enthusiasm for the struggle of the new arrivals and covered their story with deep affection, while fellow founding member Geroge Rodger documented the Arab exiles on Israel's borders, questioning the price of Jewish victory.

Organized by decade, chapters begin with introductory texts in which the photographers themselves reminisce about the turbulent events they covered and the memorable people they encountered throughout the chaotic fifty years of Israel's embattled statehood.

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Magnum, the international documentary photographers' cooperative, was established in 1947, just one year before the founding of Israel. Two of the most famous Magnum originators, Robert Capa and David Seymour, were Jewish American émigrés from Central Europe; they took a special interest in the new state. This anniversary volume, organized by decade and interspersed with written observations by the photographers who were there, is an unflinching record of Israel's first 50 years. The pictures are truly historic: Menachem Begin in 1948, making a passionate speech, is caught with his fist in the air by Capa; in 1951 a baby named Miriam, the first child of a new Jewish settler, is depicted in her Italian baptismal robe; pools of blood congeal in a Jewish classroom; terrified Arab waifs cringe at the approach of Israeli troops; and a beautiful bride marrying a man with a furrowed brow is captured on film by the mischievous Elliott Erwitt in 1962. These are but five of the terribly moving pictures of "the hardest place one can live," as Seymour wrote in 1948. But, he added, "the young sing at night, and even the old ones talk about the future."

About the Author:

Magnum Photos, since its inception in 1947, has been a cooperative of photographers at the forefront of reportage and documentary photography. Members have been key witnesses and interpreters of the world's events, and players and principals in the development of the medium. There are forty-four member photographers in Magnum, based in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, pursuing reportage stories, assignments, and other documentary projects. Magnum operates out of offices in New York, Paris, London, and Tokyo, with a network of other representatives around the word.

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