Field Notes

Field Notes

Field Notes: June 2013


Inside PROOF

  • Friends and Colleagues
  • Our Annual Benefit Auction: Rewarding for All
  • Traveling With PROOF to Israel: New Partnerships for Peacebuilding
  • Act II for The Rescuers Exhibit in Cambodia

In the News

  • Facebook Brouhaha: Small Voices Make a Big Difference
  • Perspectives From Our Blog

PROOF's Annual Bebefit Auction 2013 (Photo: Margarita Corporan).

PROOF's Annual Bebefit Auction 2013 (Photo: Margarita Corporan).


Inside PROOF


Friends and Colleagues

May was an eventful month for PROOF. Our benefit auction was our most successful ever, generating more than $35,000 in proceeds. And our Emerging Photographer Grant, which closed for entries on May 15, received 59 applications from around the world, many from outstanding candidates.

In April, PROOF Executive Director Leora Kahn spent a productive three weeks in Israel meeting with people of every stripe—Jews, Arabs, Bedouins, soldiers, educators, peace activists, and upstanders. Below you’ll read about people whose moral courage prompts them to speak out against human rights violations and others who are creatively cooking up their own recipes for peace.

Our Annual Benefit Auction: Rewarding for All

Photo: Margarita Corporan

Photo: Margarita Corporan

Even the sultry heat in the Highline Loft couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd gathered for our annual auction on May 30.

Around 200 people settled in, determined to have a good time and be inspired by the art and the cause. And that they did: by the end of the evening, they had bid on and carried home the majority of the photographs, raising $35,000 for PROOF.

Benefit Committee Chair Susan Plotner was delighted. “It’s wonderful to see people of all ages who believe in the work we do come together to be part of an uplifting event like this.”

None of it would have been possible without the outstanding photography generously donated by our photojournalist colleagues.

Host Jonathan Alter, a Bloomberg editor, applauded these “unsung heroes,” who often risk their lives to document events in remote places that otherwise would remain in darkness.

Their dedication gives rise to pictures we can use as evidence of human rights atrocities, allowing us to disperse the stories they tell to a broader audience.

We thank everyone who came and participated and especially those who contributed, whether with photography or money, so we can carry on the fight for human rights.

Traveling With PROOF to Israel:
New Partnerships for Peacebuilding

Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education

Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education

Making an impact on Middle East peace—it’s a tall order, but PROOF did not shy away from the call.

At the end of April, Leora flew to Israel to teach a course at Tel Aviv University as a Fulbright Senior Specialist. Her objective: to reach out to activists and peace builders whose ranks included Jews, Arabs, Bedouin, and other committed people from around the globe.                   
As part of her Fulbright, she taught a diverse group of international affairs students how to use visual media for human rights campaigns.  So inspired, the students came up with projects they plan to tackle.

For example, they are planning a video advocacy project with Machsom Watch, an Israeli human rights nonprofit whose work is steeped in moral courage. Formed by women who monitor West Bank checkpoints, Machsom Watch looks out for the rights of Palestinians trying to enter Israel and works with youth groups to coach future soldiers on how to treat the “other” with dignity.

Moral Courage to Speak Out

As part of Leora’s class, she invited Nadav Bigelman to speak about his experience as an Israeli soldier posted to the Occupied Territories. He works with Breaking the Silence, an organization of veterans who expose the often harsh reality of life in the Territories.

When asked what it feels like to be there, he reframed the question, saying, “It's not about me; I'm not the victim.”

Breaking the Silence has collected more than 700 testimonies, which portray how negative orders and rules of engagement are justified in the name of security. It also published a book, Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers' Testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010.

We hope to work with Breaking the Silence on a moral courage project, using our exhibits to expose human rights abuses.

Apart from teaching the course, Leora met activists and peace builders who are working to bridge the cultural divides that impede Middle East peace.


Multicultural Education

In Jerusalem, Leora visited the Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education, which runs six multicultural schools in Israel with the goal of furthering coexistence and friendship among Israel’s many ethnic groups.

Roughly equal numbers of Jewish and Arab students from elementary to high school learn their lessons in both Hebrew and Arabic from teachers who are also either Jew or Arab.

These innovative schools educate about 1,000 Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Druze children from 20 communities, representing all walks of life.


Storytelling With the Bedouin

A New Dawn

A New Dawn

Traveling south to Beer Sheva, Leora met Jamal Alkirnawi, a founder of A New Dawn, a community-based Bedouin and Jewish center.

A Bedouin himself, Mr. Alkirnawi works to build bridges among the Negev’s populations. Though Israel has tried to settle the Bedouin in towns, many prefer to remain on the land, and many live in extreme poverty.

A New Dawn

A New Dawn

His organization works on building peace between the Jewish and Arab communities while giving Bedouin youth opportunities to expand their horizons.

One of A New Dawn’s projects dovetails with PROOF’s mission on two fronts: it brings Jewish and Bedouin students together for a week of photography and storytelling to explore their own stories and work toward reconciliation.

PROOF and New Dawn are working on a new project focused on the Israeli Bedouin.

Act II for The Rescuers Exhibit in Cambodia

Money from our donors continues the life of The Rescuers project in a country where more than 25 percent of the population was wiped out in three short years, one of the 20th century's most pervasive genocides.

Back in 2011, PROOF conducted workshops and brought The Rescuers to Cambodia, where the psychological trauma is still raw, but measures to address it are woefully inadequate. 

So we were especially pleased to hear that our work not only endures, but grows. Recently, our partner organization, Youth for Peace, expanded our exhibit and then took it to the countryside where solace and healing are in short supply.

Using PROOF’s content, Youth for Peace came up with a creative way to transport the exhibit by printing the photos on plastic sheets and wrapping them around wooden poles. Carrying their big plastic rolls, they then hit the road, travelling to villages in seven districts in four provinces in Cambodia.

The many villagers who viewed the exhibit are finally learning about heroes in their midst who were unknown to them for almost forty years, a story of healing that speaks to the core of PROOF’s mission.


In the News


Facebook Brouhaha: Small Voices Make a Big Difference

For years, Facebook has ignored those who objected to its content, unflinching even in the face of teen suicides linked to posts of sexual predation and rape. But recently, two small but determined feminist groups quickly turned this issue around.

Their #fbrape campaign hit Facebook where it hurts: in the pocketbook. Aiming directly at Facebook's advertising revenue stream, Women Action Media in the US and Everyday Sexism in the UK urged companies to boycott Facebook.

They showed the advertiser’s ads displayed on pages that condone violence and rape through offensive content and images, including women who were battered or bound and gagged. For example, one page showed a photo of a woman lying at the bottom of a staircase with the caption "Next time, don't get pregnant."

Faced with loss of ad money, Facebook decided to work with the women’s groups and revamp policies that have classified such pictures as “poor taste” or “crude humor.” You can read Facebook’s response by clicking here.

Fifteen companies pulled advertising due to the negative press. You can do your part on the Women, Action, and the Media site.

Click here to learn what to do if you come across offensive content you feel should be removed.

Click here to send a tweet to reward companies that did the right thing and stopped advertising, or punish those that did not.

PROOF’s position is clear. While we are continuing to post content to Facebook, we will not pay for advertising and urge you to do the same until this issue is fully resolved.

You can read our June 3, 2013, Open Letter to Facebook here.


Perspectives From Our Blog

Since our last issue of Field Notes, we’ve had three new blog posts on a range of topics. Check them out.

(Photo:  Erika Piñeros )