Cite: Rokem, The Violin Player, the Soccer Game and the Wall-Graffiti

Rokem, Freddie. "The Violin Player, the Soccer Game and the Wall-Graffiti. Rhetorical Strategies in the Border-Regions between Israel and Palestine." Arcadia. International Journal for Literary Studies 45.2 (2011): 326-38.





This contribution examines an incident at a roadblock which took place in November 2004, documented in a short video and was also reproduced as a still in Israeli media. This image immediately became broadly discussed and contested. It shows a young Palestinian man playing a violin at a check point while a group of Israeli soldiers are standing and guarding the place. This image was drawn into larger clusters of signification where the rhetorical strategies employed become both quite complex and ambiguous. The image became contextualized within discourses of conflict, creating what Walter Benjamin in his Passagenwerk termed “constellations.” – Besides presenting this notion and its hermeneutic potentials my article examines the historical associations of the image, arguing that the associations with the Holocaust are actually a way to minimize the pain and suffering of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation rather than highlighting them in a broader universal context. – Another aspect of this image is connected to the technologies of creating and disseminating images of conflict/occupation and how they affect the ethical discussions surrounding this incident. I will argue that historical constellations tend to obscure rather than sharpen the ethical dimensions of images like the Palestinian violin player at the check point. – A number of graffiti paintings on the separation wall, in particular by the British graffiti artist Bansky, as well as a cellphone advertisement featuring the separation wall will be examined in order to contextualize the discourses of conflict and occupation.

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