Ezra Tzahor, photographer, teacher at Nofei Habsor, kibbutznik who lives in Kibbutz Revivim, recently had a show at the White House, Nir-Oz.
I spoke to Ezra about his work focusing on the Bedouin population and the desert environment that he loves.
Judih: Ezra, can you tell me something about the current Exhibit?
Ezra: I’m constantly biking around the area with my camera. In the Revivim area, there’s a large Bedouin population. And I endeavour to photograph what’s going on, within our population and around us. The Bedouin have a very difficult life, without legal status or rights and they are angry to the degree of hatred.
I try to capture the images of what is really going on, with the Jewish population and the Bedouin. At the same time, my intention is to be an agent, or go-between. I wish to mediate between two sides, two groups of human beings
Judih: Do you feel that you are being heard? Do people have questions? Are they taking an interest?
Ezra: People are listening. They get angry, but they listen. There are those who believe that I’m exaggerating on either sides. Yet I know that eventually what I’m saying will penetrate people’s consciousness.
Judih: Have any newspapers taken up your cause? Is there anything written?
Ezra: Very little. I say this: Over Tel Aviv, there’s an Iron Dome, impossible to penetrate. You want to get through, but it’s impossible.
Judih: You can’t break that bubble.
Ezra: Exactly, even if you have something to say, something truly deserving to be heard,
Judih: Do you know if something has been written in the English press? Perhaps some response from out of the country?
Ezra: I don’t think so, but I’d like to find a way to spread the word to English-speakers.
Judih: Well, this blog might find a small audience, maybe 20 people or so!
Ezra: It doesn’t matter how many, even 20 people is good!
Judih: Is there something in particular you’d like readers outside of this immediate area to know?
Ezra: As I wrote in my artist’s statement for this show, people find it very difficult to relate to the camera; as if the camera is an enemy. This is true for Jews as well as Bedouin. Apparently, they’ve got something to hide, and that is what I’m searching for, what lies underneath. Both sides are the same, and essentially need to stop being foolish.
This week, for example, on our Kibbutz fence,there was a war between the Bedouin and the local councils. Highly unnerving. There I am biking around, and it’s not always with a good feeling.
Judih: or a feeling of safety.
Ezra: or safety. And after this week, I feel even more uncertain.
Judih: What exactly happened?
Ezra: Government officials came to issue demolition warrants on illegal housing and there was huge opposition. The Bedouin threw stones and there was gunfire, right on our Kibbutz fence. It’s terrible.
Revivim exists with that volatile fence and tunnels and trenches. It’s terrible.
Still I am trying to build relationships, but I’m only one man, a small force and it’s extremely difficult to encourage change.
Judih: Do you have any suggestions as to how to recruit support?
Ezra: My dream is to establish a home, like Haim Perry has done with the White House on Nir-Oz, between Revivim and Bir-Hadaj, their area. There I want to offer art activities for groups of Jews and Bedouin. That’s my dream. With such activity, it’s possible to develop cooperation.
Judih: That sounds wonderful! Is it possible, is there some viable way to develop this project?
Ezra: Haim suggested something and I’ll start to work in that direction; perhaps the Peres Center for Peace. And I need to find someone who can locate the resources for developing this idea.
Judih: Excellent. Good luck and thank you.
Ezra has an online gallery here.
To contact Ezra, feel free to write him @ firstname.lastname@example.org