Burnt Mosque, Racist Graffiti, And Uprooted Olive Tree (Atrocity Aesthetics)

Burnt Mosque Burnt Mosque2 Burnt Mosque 3

But the photographs, the photographs of the burnt mosque and racist graffiti at the town of Aqraba in the West Bank not far from Nablus are too beautiful for such an ugly thing. I saw them  in this article here at Ynet. It happens a lot in the western press with disaster photographs since 9/11. Elegiac, their composition is too perfect, closely cropped and filtered. In these photographs from Aqraba, there’s the play of light and smoky mist in the sooty room. The racist graffiti looks like Chinese ink and brush calligraphy. Political vandals from the nearby settlement of Tapuach are the most likely the culprits, as identified by the “price tag.” Reuben Rivlin, the President of Israel, has come out calling this an act of “terrorism.” In the Israeli context that’s the most appropriate word to call it, although “atrocity” might be the word I would use to consider the burnt body of the mosque. Maybe the photographs are too beautiful, although it might also be the case that the close shot conveys the point that political atrocity bears the mark and shows the mark of a human touch.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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8 Responses to Burnt Mosque, Racist Graffiti, And Uprooted Olive Tree (Atrocity Aesthetics)

  1. Nitzan says:

    The most interesting thing, if I understand the graffiti well enough, is the spelling mistake in (“Tapuach [the settlement] is Kahane”) Kahane’s name, which spells with Alef at the end, not He.

  2. Michael says:

    Seriously – “disaster”? “atrocity”? We agree burning a mosque is a bad act, a criminal act, and possibly can be considered an act of terrorism. But mass murders like Rwanda are atrocities, the Haiti earthquake is a disaster. If you apply these words to the burning of a single mosque, you’re significantly devaluating them, however bad that act is. Since you’re using the same words as in the previous post about Syria, it sounds as if you’re equating the severity of the crimes.

    As you undoubtedly know, the Syrian civil war has already cost at least double the number of Arab lives than ALL of the Israeli-Arab wars of the past 100 years. I don’t comprehend how you come even close to putting the Jewish criminals responsible for the mosque torching (however bad they may be) on the same level as the perpetrators of the horrors in Syria, that include mass murder by chemical weapons.

    • zjb says:

      a little atrocity. first they burn mosques, then they burn children abducted off the street. yes, i do understand your point about scale, but i wanted to find a strong word.

      • Michael says:

        And you’ve succeeded – but at what cost? The flip side of your quest for strong language was equivalence of the very limited scope of racial violence in the Israeli society, violence that does not go unpunished, to horrifying cases of genocide and carnage like just across the border in Syria, a comparison that is way off by all standards. Was it worth it?

      • zjb says:

        Well, I’m not sure the price tag crimes go unpunished. I think no one has been arrested to date. And I do think burning down a mosque crosses all kinds of red lines. But no, these things are not comparable, and about that I’d agree. At the end of the day, Michael, I’m sure I harmed nobody by the strong language.

      • Michael says:

        I think your comments show a severe lack in understanding Israeli society and policy and lack of awareness of even widely reported current events. In 2012 alone the Israeli police has made 200 arrests of suspects, opened over 600 criminal investigations and filed charges in 123 cases of “Price Tag” activities.

        You could look it up on Wikipedia, you know. But hey – if this information conflicts with your point that “these crimes go unpunished” – why bother?

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