In the Service of the High Commissioner
Zvi Oron (Oroshkes) came to Eretz Israel in 1918 with the Jewish Legion. Having already acquired his photographic skills in Poland, he opened his first photography studio in Tel Aviv in 1920. Initially, most of his photographic work was commissioned by the information department of the Jewish National Fund. In 1925 he began working for the British administration. In 1929, High Commissioner John Chancellor officially appointed him as provider of photography services to the British administration in Palestine. Thanks to this position he was able to move without difficulty between British military facilities, and stay outdoors during curfew hours. Because the British trusted him, Oron managed to establish professional ties with the Arab population, and was on friendly terms with Emir Abdullah. He thus became one of the few photographers who were able to photograph the different populations that inhabited Palestine during the British Mandate. His Jewish origins, his ties with British officials, and the trust he had among the Arabs yielded an outstanding photographic archive, which documents objectively the life in Eretz Israel of that time. In a letter he wrote in 1938 to Moshe Sharet, his friend from the Jewish Legion and then head of the Jewish Agency Political Department, Oron described his impressions of the situation in Eretz Israel as reflected in his photos:
"...When I went over the collection of the photos I published in the press in the past two years, I had the impression that the English were making extraordinary efforts to calm down the situation, the Arabs were revolting, and the Jews were weeping at funerals".
Oron, a sworn Zionist, made an effort to convey a standpoint as objective as possible in his photographs. The exhibition displays his perspective of the British Mandate years as seen in photographs that show the construction of Jewish settlements, state and military events of the British administration, and the lifestyle of the traditional Arab population.
Curator: Michal Ben-Tovim
Closes: August 30, 2013