"Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat offers condolences to Leah Rabin and family friend Yossi Ginosar, center," 1995. Courtesy Associated Press

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat offers condolences to Leah Rabin and family friend Yossi Ginosar, center, 1995. Courtesy Associated Press

This picture was published in The Los Angeles Times after an Israeli extremist shot Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Prior to his assassination, Rabin had covered some ground in negotiating peace with then-leader of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat. The tension at every step of the meetings of the two longtime enemies had been palpable. Their unprecedented and unexpected handshake, the first ever symbolic gesture of benevolence, made news, although it was not the sealing of any agreement. That made this photograph even more striking. It is not a formal, political event. This is not a visit to enemy headquarters. Body language describes these three people as cozy, informal, intimate. Comfortable with each other. With cookies on the table, they are chatting the family way: simultaneously. Arafat is holding his cup of espresso as a somewhat tired uncle. If I did not know who they are, I’d think it a family photo.

Eva Forgacs, Art Historian

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