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The Birth of a Nation

by: Cara Wides - Last updated: 2006-02-28

Yemenite Jews

Yemenite Jews - Photo: Paul Goldman

Key moments in Israel's history are captured in the works of two photojournalists, currently on show in an unprecedented exhibition in a north London gallery.

Over 150 images are displayed in 'Eretz Israel: The Birth of a Nation' -  both joyous and tragic scenes documented by the photographers David Rubinger and Paul Goldman.

At the Proud Gallery, in London NW1, photos of peaceful streets and beaches in Tel Aviv contrast with images of Holocaust survivors from Buchenwald, Auschwitz and other Nazi camps as they arrive in Haifa.

Kate Boenigk, a spokesperson for the Proud Gallery, said: "Eretz Israel: The Birth of a Nation is essential viewing for anyone with an interest in world politics, and, above all, great photojournalism. Israel has been dominated, since its foundation in 1948, by the struggle
between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Goldman and Rubinger document a period of dramatic change in the country."

The two photographers earned the trust of key figures in Israel's history - such as Golda Meir, David Ben-Gurion and Ariel Sharon - and were invited to travel with them.

Rubinger, now 81, is seen by Israelis as one of the country's most famous photojournalists. Born in Vienna in 1924, Rubinger got into photography by chance after someone gave him a gift of a small 35mm camera.

After the end of Israel's War of Independence he began freelancing for local papers, and this built up to frequent work with TIME magazine.

Then, in the early seventies Rubinger became a TIME Contract photographer - a position he holds to
this day.

In 1967 he shot the image which has become his signature, and a famous image in Israel's history: the three paratroopers standing in awe in front of the recaptured Wailing Wall.

Boenigk said about Rubinger: "His singular and perceptive way of viewing the world around him has resulted in a historical archive of immeasurable value  for future generations."

Goldman died before he could achieve fame on Rubinger's level, but his talent was championed post-humously by Rubinger, who brought 40,000 of his  photos to the UK.

Goldman's best-known image shows Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion doing a headstand at Sharon Hotel Beach in Herzliyah in September 1957. He befriended many major public figures including Chaim Weizmann, Moshe Dayan, and Menachem Begin, yet never gained public recognition.

"His images made their way into the national pantheon in almost total anonymity,' said Shlomo Arad, curator of a previous Goldman exhibition. He  added that Goldman's portfolio of images is "a treasure for historians and  sociologists, students and researchers."

The exhibition is free and runs until April 2nd at the Sony Ericsson Proud  Gallery, the Gin House, Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AH.

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