The Human Cost of Terror
By Jason Schwartz
This work was born out of a sense of deep frustration. In 2002, as this period known as the Al Aqsa Intifidah was really reaching a critical point and what seemed like an ongoing barrage of daily attacks was taking place, I had to ask myself if I could really go on functioning in my own reality as if nothing was happening in a place very dear to me ... a place where my family and friends were facing (to borrow Robert Sarner's description) "premeditated mass murder" on a daily basis.
To compound the pain of these moments was an unforgiving and slanted campaign of propaganda and half-truths directed by much of the media at Israel and its policies. The real salt in the wounds though, was the misappropriation of Holocaust imagery and terminology that was being freely directed at Israel. Terms such as "Nazis," "apartheid state," and "massacres" were the ultimate insult. Furthermore watching the mis-steps of the Canadian government, its leaders at the time and our national broadcaster in response to this onslaught was also very difficult to bear.
As someone who has spent much personal time speaking to, interviewing and photographing close to 200 Holocaust survivors over the years, I may be particularly sensitized to these events described. After all the "Schindler's Lists," "The Pianists" and countless other movies depicting the 6 million tragedies of the Holocaust it seems that Israel is still having to fight for its right to exist - to live in peace and to exist without having its mothers, children, brothers, sisters incinerated and mangled by shrapnel and fire.
My goal in presenting this work was firstly to show the personal stories of those who have been affected most by these recent events ... to get behind the statistics, the casualty lists - to present the faces and lives and potential of those prematurely cut down.
My second objective was to help raise money and awareness for these victims to help them get their lives back together as best they can but just as importantly, to show them that we have not forgotten - a silent promise that I made to myself and those nearly 200 Holocaust survivors who had shared the lessons of their experiences with me.
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