Nine bodyguards and escorts are secondary characters in this September 15 photograph by Daniel Bar-On. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli President Shimon Peres met at the President's Residence in honor of another round of peace talks, which ended with no results. A pre-autumn light falls diagonally on the secretary of state's rounded face. She looks relaxed, full of energy and vitality - somewhat upstaging Peres, who seems to have just told her something as they were walking, without her looking at him, in the way people converse when they have known each other for years and trust each other. They walk together, they are coordinated - and they are holding hands. To be more precise, Peres, who is about two decades older than the secretary of state, is holding her hand and she is allowing it, helping him.
Only a few months have passed since that meeting, and so much has changed and so little has budged. Al Jazeera revealed that no matter how much the Palestinians accept the fact of Israel's existence and its control of the territories, in part or in blocs, and no matter whether they forfeit the right of return, their concessions will still not please those who are negotiating with them. And during the time that has passed since then, Sonia Peres, the president's wife, died.
In this photo, it is not peace talks that are the main thing, but the delicate quality of an authentic relationship, almost a father-daughter relationship, between Clinton and Peres.
Bar-On, who displayed four very strong photographs this year at the "Local Testimony" exhibition, and won first place for a photo of a right-wing demonstration in front of the Turkish embassy, has the eye of a journalist and the ability of an artist. All 11 subjects in the photo, in their dark suits, are arrayed in a way that creates a nice contrast between "guarding" and the total lack of need for it. They are in motion, and at the same time, as in many of Bar-On's motion photos, the principle dimension of the frame is actually emotional. The clear, evident, unequivocal emotion of the hand contact. Because for Daniel Bar-On, a journalistic photo becomes the sum of its parts, and then receives a bit more. Within the clearest scene, which seems to call on the photographer to capture it, and could easily be seen as too inviting, he manages to find precisely the personal gesture, the basic, natural human behavior, which overcomes the dictates of protocol.
In a photo taken earlier by Bar-On, Peres is seen standing by himself, without any bodyguards, on the very modest red carpet designed for such visits, and waiting. After the meeting, he said it is very important to continue with direct negotiations, and he and Clinton expressed confidence in the ability of the sides to reach an agreement, although they may have known, from their experience, that the chances are slim. They also embraced warmly and said how well they know and like one another.
Sonia Peres died on January 20. And at the funeral, the president said the exemplary words that will echo from now on in every photo of him: "In my eyes she was what a human being should be." There is something general but touching in this statement. Clinton called him and according to the official report said: "Sonia was an important and unique woman. The American nation shares greatly your heavy sorrow."
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