OP-ED by David Rubinger
October 2002

The Essence of Truth

However we Photojournalists live with the illusion, that our work is the essence of truth. A picture cannot lie we are told, day in day out. “Of course it cannot lie. It’s always telling the truth”.

The problem becomes evident only if we try to live up to the rule of “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

It is here that it is not in our power to deliver: The truth ? Yes. Nothing but the truth ? Yes. The WHOLE truth ? Let’s not kid ourselves. It is beyond the ability of the most honest among us to deliver on that one.

Because the whole truth is a tri-dimensional affair. Every moment in time we depict, is only a fraction of the whole. A moment in history is not history. Every story we work on has in addition to today, also a yesterday. And that yesterday it is not in our scope to report. Here the written word – if handled honestly – has an advantage, even over our best and sincerest effort.

It is these thoughts, that looking through the extremely touching photographs of Catherine Leuthold’s, came to my mind.

Granted, I am an Israeli. But those who know my views and me will not suspect me of being biased or chauvinistically Israeli and anti-Palestinian. If anything, the contrary, strongly opposed to Israel’s policies, opposed to the occupation, opposed to what is done in my name by my government.

Catherine’s photographs are an extremely telling example of today’s truth. Honest, touching and of the highest journalistic value – a tribute to photojournalism. A sincere document of today. The truth. Nothing but the truth. But the whole truth?

Catherine could not, even were she the greatest genius among photojournalists, tell the whole truth. Because that has, in a addition to today, also a yesterday.

A yesterday of Palestinians again and again rejecting in the past, what they fight for today. A yesterday, when they opted for violence instead of listening and weighing what Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak had suggested.

A yesterday of believing that if the Israelis pulled out of Lebanon because casualties became too high, they would achieve the same by sowing terror in the Israeli street by sending suicide bombers to blow themselves up in busses and restaurants.

A yesterday in which they were told that only if they keep up the struggle, one day they would wake up and there would be no Jewish State.

That is the yesterday we Photojournalists cannot include in our reporting. Catherine Leuthold does a marvelous job of showing the world what happens to the vast majority of innocent people who are caught in the middle between lunatic fringes on both sides – TODAY. But only today.

So, even if we photographers cannot translate the yesterday into pictorial images – we should remind our readers, and ourselves that it exists.

And all that – so I hope – without being taken for an apologist of Israel’s policies.

David Rubinger
Contributing Writer

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