One of the goals of the Picture Balata tour was to afford American audiences the rare opportunity to hear the unfiltered thoughts of three bright children from Balata refugee camp and see the photographic concepts that they themselves developed. We regret that Shai Bronshtein found these children’s reality too difficult to bear and instead of coming to terms with it, used his column space in the Harvard Crimson to deny these kids’ experiences and perpetuate myths.
Even as he recalls the young photographers’ accounts that the Israeli occupation has made the lives of children and adults alike a living nightmare, he dismisses them as “highly charged” and “controversial.” That life inside a refugee camp is hard is “irrefutable,” according to Mr. Bronshtein—just don’t let those who actually live there remember, interpret, and struggle against that reality. Should their speech rights be suspended along with the rest of their freedoms?
As the founder and head Boston organizer of Picture Balata, respectively, we would like to formally invite Mr. Bronshtein to the Balata camp, where he can have a chance to witness life in Balata for himself, as well as the nightly Israeli incursions.
In so doing, we hope that he may earn his qualifications first-hand.
MATTHEW CASSEL MARYAM M. GHARAVI Chicago, Ill. April 26, 2007
The writers are founder and head Boston organizer of Picture Balata, respectively.