A demonstration by ultra-Orthodox Jews against autopsies, Jerusalem. Ultra-Orthodox Jews – a category that in fact includes many different communities – are non-Zionist or anti-Zionist. Though they identify with the biblical land of Israel, many believe there should not be a Jewish state until the Messiah arrives. They do, however, participate in Israeli politics to pursue their own goals. Because Israel’s multiparty system usually means that their support is required to form a coalition government, they wield more political power than their numbers in the population would suggest (under 5 percent, a quarter of those who identify themselves as observant). Subjects that touch off protests among the ultra-Orthodox include driving near religious neighborhoods on the Sabbath, autopsies, archaeological digs that may disturb ancient Jewish graves, and recognition of the Reform and Conservative movements in Judaism.

If you're too close to events, you lose perspective. It is not easy to be fair with the facts and keep your own convictions out of the picture. It is almost impossible to be both a participant in the events and their observer, witness, interpreter

Micha Bar-Am
© Micha Bar-Am | Magnum Photos

Micha Bar-Am has been a Magnum Correspondent since 1968. He was born in Berlin in 1930 and moved with his family to Israel, then Palestine, in 1936.

Growing up in Haifa, Bar-Am lived on a kibbutz and began to document kibbutz life with borrowed cameras. Active in the pre-state underground, Bar-Am was drafted in 1948 when the Jewish-Arab conflict turned into all-out war. After his military service, he had several jobs before he began to photograph seriously.

In the mid-1960s, Bar-Am curated several exhibits and books with Cornell Capa, including Israel: The Reality. He assisted Capa with the establishment of the International Center for Photography in 1974 and became an active curator. His reportages on Israel have been published in a large number of magazines and books.

© Micha Bar-Am | Magnum Photos

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