Regarding the Captivity of Others

In light of the recent controversy over the Israeli soldier Eden Aberjil’s posting of souvenir pictures of herself with blindfolded Palestinian prisoners Facebook, it is worth revisiting Sontag’s essay published on the New York Times in May, 2004, ‘Regarding the Torture of Others’. In the essay Sontag presents an eloquent analysis of the leaked photographs of American soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraiub.  A key point made by Sontag is that the shock of the  Abu Ghraiub photos is not just in their imagery, but in the very fact that they were taken.

The shock around the case of Eden Aberjil can seen to be similar though the nature of the images is nowhere near as perverse. Her actions have rightfully been condemned by both Israelis and Palestinians. However, Aberjil herself apparent does not  see what is wrong with taking the photographs and has been reported as saying,  “I still don’t understand what’s wrong… [the]pictures were taken in good will, there was no statement in them.”

The conflict in the Middle East is a struggle which is one of images. Thus Aberjil’s posturing, posing and smiling in front of men who are blindfolded and whose wrists appear bound can be read as representative of the respect bestowed by Israel upon Palestine. Yet, like in Sontag’s article what should be questioned in this instance is not just the photographs themselves or the individual soldier, but the mentality which views the very act of taking the photograph itself as acceptable.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Regarding the Captivity of Others

  1. This is really interesting. I hadn’t heard about this photo. I’m curious to know if Aberjil is the only one who fails to see the image as problematic.

    Happy to see you’ve started a blog! I’ll be following.

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