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Monday, June 24, 2013

Artists4Israel responds to Haaretz hatchet job

I suppose it was just a question of time until Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' daily noticed Artists4Israel. In the weekend edition, Haaretz attacked the group that has done so much for so many people here, because they paint in Judea and Samaria. While I cannot get to the article, because like everything else at Haaretz it's behind a paywall (the only things I can get to there are Barak Ravid's reports if I click on them from Twitter), you can get a flavor for it by reading Craig Dershowitz's response. Full disclosure: Craig and his artists have been guests in our home a couple of times, and when one of our kids saw that I had their blog open, he immediately asked when the artists are coming back again.

At your own words (words you use twice in one sentence - high school writing 101 mistake), Artists 4 Israel is a "small organization", yet, you spend a whole half a page above the fold decrying our work. Must have been a slow news day or, perhaps, there is something more here. After all, if you are going to give us so much press (PS, thanks for that), you should at least really make your accusations sting and not just ridicule our size. Yet, the best you do is describe us as "right-wing" (again, using that phrase twice - seriously, can we buy you a thesaurus - maybe the JNF will pay for it) yet your only proof of this political orientation is that we paint "Pro-Israel" messages. Your equation then is that "Pro-Israel" is synonymous with "right-wing". We do not ascribe to a notion of right and left wing as such divisive politics is an invention of bigots like yourself who choose to separate and alienate. We choose to unite. We believe that beauty of art is pan-wing. However we do see your bias through this false equivalency. Yours is a sad belief which paints (pun intended) everything life affirming with the gloomy sepia of politrix (typo very much intended).

Spray-paint (I want to write "sic" here but I think it is more relevant to point out that you don't even copy edit your own work. It is spray paint - two words, no hyphen) is a form of creation. It is creation, like the Third Temple might be. It is creation like our paintings in Judea, Samaria, Tel Aviv, Ariel, Shiloh, Arab villages across Israel, mixed schools and community centers. We have created art in child daycare centers, in refuges for battered women and homes for at-risk children. It is creation like the JNF's planting of trees, building of parks, growing of flowers, green grass and a hopeful earth-driven future. It is the opposite of your attempts to destruct and to destroy. Grab a can of spray paint (hyphenate if you must) or a handful of seeds and earth and create something other than the fictions in your reporting. No one can hate life that much so, maybe there is something else going on here.

Your story's lies go from the wishful (saying we come to Israel to paint every few months (if only!) to the mundane (there are no videos on our website) to the slanderous (painting on a "Palestinian's" home never happened). The only truth in your fable comes from your uncredited appropriation of a JPR video. The JPR, unlike you, are serious, investigative journalists. Their story was timely (aka the "new" part of "news"), their reporters were on the ground, their sources were primary, their reporting comprehensive and multi-sided. You couldn't even post the video that matched your description of it! That is not me speaking on the video. That is SKI, a member of the UR New York art collective, a New Yorker of Dominican descent and Catholic beliefs. Yet, you hinted at some sort of racist, evil religious Jewish plot in our painting of the Temple. That makes no sense. Maybe there is something more going on here.

SKI's words are precious. He informs everyone (well, except for your editorial staff it seems) that he is there "spreading the word of peace through art". Peace. Art. Creation. How dare you respond to such unbridled life affirming actions with destructive lies and hate?

SKI's words are also prescient. Being in Israel to "see the reality - it is not what you read about." According to your words, Haaretz is "the world's leading English-language Website for real-time news and analysis of Israel and the Middle East" As such, it is the monolith of your bastardized reporting that is creating the misrepresentation of Israel that SKI had to venture into Hebron to expose.

And, SKI learned the truth well. While bricks and giant rocks were being hurled at him in an attempt to maim and kill an artist of the world by "Palestinians", SKI was being treated to watermelon and lemonade by his new Israeli friends. When a group of stick weilding "Palestinian" youth tried to ambush SKI, he was saved by an IDF soldier. When SKI asked the soldier why he wore his helmet in the sweltering heat he was told because it was too unsafe for him to take it off. SKI learned, even in the heart of Hebron, a site of so much ridicule from your paper, that he loves Israel. "this place is amazing. It is this little gem." And, he hadn't even seen the Tel Aviv beach. 
Read the whole thing

I believe that the second picture in this post comes from the incident involving SKI in Hebron. It's described here.

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