Vardi Kahana, Curator of Local Testimony 2017

Noam Moshkovitz’s Picture of the Year is taken from the theater of the absurd: two police officers breaking through the barricaded door of the synagogue in Amona, while two settlers are peering from behind the wall. A single frame freezes a ridiculous spectacle. It’s a game of hideand- seek into which the State was drawn by the Amona settlers. This is the final scene in an immense performance whose ending is foretold. In 2006 the Supreme Court ruled that Amona was an illegal outpost built knowingly on Palestinian land designated solely for agriculture. The Settlement Movement procrastinated for ten years in carrying out the demolition order, while trying to change matters by using political tools. The landowners petitioned the court against the delays, and on 2 February 2017 Amona was evacuated and razed to the ground.

Hundreds of photos of the evacuation were submitted to the contest, doubtlessly proof of the part the media played in that big show. We saw groups of young people dancing, praying and burning tires, and facing them, long lines of unarmed policemen, dressed in blue sweatshirts, climbing up to the settlement to evacuate them. The settlers and the security forces gave the media direct access to the arena. Each party wanted to prove to the viewers at home that they were performing their role convincingly in this great show.

Two weeks earlier, on 18 January, in the middle of the night, a large armed police force left on another evacuation mission: the demolishing of illegal tin shacks in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev. Only two photographers were there. The area was off limits to the media. During the event village inhabitant Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qian and police officer Senior Sergeant-Major Erez Levi were killed. The Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, hastened to accuse Abu al-Qian of murdering the police officer, despite the fact that there were no findings on the ground. The video clip made by Keren Manor, together with footage taken from the police helicopter, prove that Officer Erez Levi was hit only after Abu al-Qian was shot and probably lost control of his vehicle.

The evacuation of Umm al-Hiran was not a performance for the media; it was life itself, and death too.