A WEEKEND IN BEIT JALAH

Jan 08 2012 Published by under RECOMMENDED READING, Uncategorized

 THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN NARRATIVE PROJECT.

Necktie - Outside -Inside exhibition, 2010. By: Jamal Bahri. He has 1 NIS in his pocket.

Necktie - Outside -Inside exhibition, 2010. By: Jamal Bahri. He has 1 NIS in his pocket.

“You know you don’t have to go if you are scared. You don’t have to prove anything”.

Messages of this kind and similar ones poured into my facebook inbox and my mobile phone.
I admit, it was not an easy decision to partake in this project. From about a week prior to the journey to Beit Jalah, I stopped sleeping. Nightmares returned at night and by day my head was full of difficult thoughts and fears. In between, I repeated in my head, like a mantra, a sentence that my friend Gilad Chushani said to me a few weeks earlier: fear stems from lack of knowledge. And I knew that I don’t know, and that I’m afraid. Rational or not, this fear was tangible even though I didn’t allow myself to get carried away with specific worries concerning possible dangers that might lie in waiting for me in the Palestinian town, in an encounter with people about whom I knew nothing except that they are Palestinian artists.

My last encounter with Palestinians on Israeli/Palestinian soil was very bad indeed. It was on the 21st of December 2000; I was a soldier in the Nahal and volunteered to help members of my peer-group who had settled in Maskiot in the Jordan Valley. While I was playing backgammon with a girl from my unit in the Meholah Junction, waiting for a lift to Maskiot, a young Palestinian man aged 20 or 21 sat next to us. Half an hour later, exactly at the moment of my sweeping victory in the game, he arose and walked towards the bus stop. A disturbing thought crossed my mind. I didn’t hear any approaching bus. I turned my head to follow him and suddenly felt him standing behind me, gripping me from behind tightly. I grabbed his hand that surrounded my neck in an attempt to break free when he screamed something in my ear and then there was a colossal explosion. I will skip all the graphic details. Later I spent 5 months recovering in Rambam Hospital, followed by a year of rehabilitation. Ever since, I suffer from loud ringing in my ears, and my daily activities brought to a standstill from time to time, with flashbacks where I re-live this experience weighing me down. This happens nearly always when I hear Arabic, see Arabic script, hear the explosion-like sounds of car engines, and all sorts of other benign situations; in short, what is considered a full post-traumatic phenomenon. So there, I have explained a bit about the reasons for all my anxieties and the fears I felt in anticipation of my visit to Palestine.

"Post Zionism?", Map of Israel burned on my back. Omer Golan, 2006.

"Post Zionism?", Map of Israel burned on my back. Omer Golan, 2006.

And indeed, as I arrived and took in on which side of the Separation Wall I stand, I was engulfed by anxiety. For about four hours I felt myself under an offensive of anxiety and flashbacks which were in stark contrast to all the smiles and polite head gestures exchanged by everyone. After getting to know the Palestinian participants and as I was getting used to this strange situation and to the simultaneous translation which was constantly whispered in our ears by Ahmed Jafary the skilled translator, that the many tensions bottled inside myself were only just then slightly eased (that particularly pacifying peace-pipe that we jointly smoked certainly didn’t hurt).

All the participants in the project gave chilling testimonies on their encounter-points with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it was generally felt that all the artists who took part were there not for the sake of apportioning blame but in order to find a starting point for the future – a future without violence, occupation or bloodshed. I will not repeat here the terrible stories that nearly choked me when I heard them, and I will not delve into the details of the traumas, which people on both sides grew up so much so that they seem an almost “natural” and inextricable part of life.

Isratine, Tal Golan, 2008

Isratine, Tal Golan, 2008

In the website of the Bereaved Families Forum (www.theparentscircle.com ), the objects of this “Narrative Project” are described as follows: “To build trust and empathy, to further mutual understanding between Palestinians and Israelis and to provide tools for recognition and understanding of the national and personal narratives of the other side”.

I think that this is exactly what we did, or at least started doing. Through the honest sharing of our personal narratives, by means of the mutual curiosity and interest of the art created on the other side of the divide, and by identifying with the basic and universal difficulties faced by artists wherever they are, we came closer, feeling our way, trying to get to know each other better. Mostly though, we learnt at close range what perhaps seemed obvious to most of us beforehand, but was better understood in Beit Jalah, namely, that people and their actions are a direct product of their lives’ circumstances.

Mohammad W. Al-Dawadeh

Mohammad W. Al-Dawadeh

One of the most interesting parts for me was on Saturday morning, when two professors of history, Eyal Navah and Khalil Baader arrived, and introduced us to chapters from a history book written jointly by them, which describes the two narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the respective viewpoint of the two nations side by side. They spoke about Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, the White Paper, the Holocaust, the Naqba/War of Independence. Each of them told the history as told in their society. The gaps between the national narratives are huge. I was very familiar with the Israeli narrative. Probably my bizarre interest in history since childhood had instilled this “knowledge” in me very well. The Palestinian narrative, on the other hand, was almost entirely new to me. Previously, I never understood their perception of historical events that I assumed I knew so well.

There were incredible moments for me when, for example, I was sitting with a nice Palestinian guy on Friday night for an in-depth chat into the early hours of the freezing night in Beit Jalah, and between exchanges of photographs and stories, on art, politics and anything in between, for a flash I glimpsed at this situation as an observer.
There was I, a former IDF soldier, who was mortally wounded by a suicide-bomber a young Palestinian student, sitting and having a conversation about political art, religion and music, with a young Palestinian student and painter, who some years prior to this, was in an Israeli prison charged with a failed attempt to cause an explosion against Israeli soldiers in Nablus.

I cannot describe what I felt, but it soon turned into a recognition, that he is participating in this project with me today and he wants to encounter other voices in the Israeli society, beyond the ones he already knows, those of soldiers and settlers. And here we are by ourselves, chatting and everything is alright, no one is blown up and the conversation flows, and at times even makes us laugh. The dialogue about art helped me bridge many of the strange moments that passed through my head almost against my will.

“Future of Religion”, The Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Omer Golan 2010

“Future of Religion”, The Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Omer Golan 2010

One of the most significant things that happened to me on a personal level during this weekend, was that I managed to dissolve to some extent the hard cognitive connection forged in the last decade, between spoken and written Arabic and death and terror. In my mind new associations emerged, between Arabic and good, interesting art, between Arabic and good, interesting people, and between Arabic and people like myself, who are seeking freedom of choice in their profession, creativity, time and life.

I want to summarize and tell you that through this project I met people who are similar to me as far as religion, a wish for secular state for both people and conceptual art are concerned. In fact, in many ways the similarities exceeded the differences. I met people who are interested and willing to co-operate in artistic and social matters, do not believe in boycotts and want to be creative and be active. I hope we will exhibit our art jointly, here in Israel and in Palestine, and in the world. After all, we have much more in common than just a tragic history, a blood-saturated earth and perhaps a few genes.

We are going to meet again in a fortnight in Lifta, a site of a former Palestinian village at the outskirts of Jerusalem, whose inhabitants abandoned during the 1948 war, and I eagerly anticipate this meeting.

I warmly recommend to you to follow the activities of the Bereaved Families Forum and to try and participate in similar project arranged by the Forum in the future.

Omer Golan, 31, a painter and new-media artist. His works are created on the seam-line that combines technology, science, sociology and art. Omer studied new media programming in order to create his new-media works. Using computer, sensors, cameras and unique software that he created, he generates certain rules that help him manipulate the space in which he displays his works and produce dynamic works that react to the audience’s response and transpose passive viewers into participants.

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Buy The Wall | More of Banksy

Aug 16 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Buy The Wall – Yoav Weiss

Yoav Weiss’ project comments on the so-called separation wall in Israel. In his statement on the project’s website, Weiss notes that pieces of the Berlin Wall eventually sold for good money, once the structure lost its policing function. According to Weiss the Israeli wall will surely meet a similar fate and parts of it will soon become similarly coveted souvenirs. He thus offers a special deal for early birds who already want to secure their part of the wall.

In the Israeli context, Weiss’ work is an intervention, artistically, socially and politically. Interpretations of this work are always predicated on the fact that the viewer already knows the Israeli wall and the reality it stands for. It should concern us less that individual viewers in Europe or elsewhere might miss the fact that Weiss is speaking tongue-in-cheek. More importantly, even those European viewers who understand this work as an ironic commentary will engage its references to the less familiar Israeli wall through the lens of the more familiar Berlin Wall. As careful viewers will scan his artwork with the aim of understanding the Israeli wall, its implications, and political meaning, they will inevitably do so through the prism of what they know about the Berlin Wall. Weiss’ work will to a large degree have an educational function to those unfamiliar with the history of the Israeli wall.

Yoav Weiss – Buy The Wall

Banksy In Israel

We already featured some works by Banksy here on Art Politica in Graffiti Talks Back – The Works of Banksy which is a fantastic post about Banksy’s graffiti art.

Banksy has been on holiday and he’s taken his spray can with him … to the Palestinian side of Israel’s separation wall. This is how Banksy bombed the West Bank, Enjoy!

Banksy website

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Dictatorship Spot | Omer Golan’s Dictatorship

Aug 08 2010 Published by under Dictatorship Spot


“I’ll do the stupid thing first and then you shy people follow”

Frank Zappa

So there you go. My dictators mustache. I’m half Iraqi and half Russian so I have excellent dictator genes from both sides of the family. I’m made for the job. Plus, both my grandfathers had a glorious mustache. If you wonder what facial hair got to do with dictators read this guide to evil dictators facial hair.

If I somehow assumed sole and absolute power and control in Israel I would change a lot of things. This is my fantastic dictatorship:

There are many fazes that a medicine/cure goes through before it reaches patiences to help them. Clinical Trials are conducted to allow safety and efficacy data to be collected for health interventions (e.g., drugs, diagnostics, devices, therapy protocols). These trials can take place only after satisfactory information has been gathered on the quality of the non-clinical safety, and Health Authority/Ethics Committee approval is granted in the country where the trial is taking place. So how does all of this relate to my dictatorship? I would speed up the development time of cures by allowing clinical trials on violent prisoners. There will be not death punishment for any crime under my regime. Instead, new and experimental drugs will be tested on criminals from early stages. Prisons should be totally self efficient. They must be able to produce the funds that are needed to operate them on their own. Clinical trials would be one of them ways in which they could do it. I am not talking about replacing the jail punishments, only about adding to them. Our society should not suffer the burden of sponsoring prisons or the scums that live there.

“Future of Religion”

The Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Future of Religion, Omer Golan 2010

The Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Future of Religion, Omer Golan 2010

Next on my agenda will be the complete and total separation between state and religions. I understand that religions had important functions in society in the past. But it is not the case any more at the present.

Religion is a matter of faith. Under my dictatorship, religions will not be allowed to organize. No matter what religion you believe in, faith is personal, belief is personal, so it will not feed on public funds any longer. Greedy organized religions will have to give back to society all of the wealth they accumulated on our expense and will be shut down and outlawed. Religious ceremonies will not be in any way a part of the new state’s agenda, there will be only secular holidays, like maybe a national BBQ holiday, and a great celebration of the dictator’s birthday (note May 14th for the celebration). Religion will have no grab on the institution of marriage, only civil marriages will be legally obligating.
To my view, religious sites and symbols belong to the past, and to history museums. I will take all the religious sites and put them in a glass boxes for display in one great big History Museum dedicated to religions that will be built in Tel Aviv,  or maybe somewhere far out in the desert.

Church of All Nations Jerusalem, Future of Religion, Omer Golan 2010

Church of All Nations, Jerusalem, Future of Religion, Omer Golan 2010

I will make Israel one secular country for everyone (that I like) that want to live a decent life, with a family and a job and whatever, I will chase out the religious lunatics and nationalist fanatics. The IDF will have to give up half its budget, and do a lot more community work and keep the (new) order. The money that we will get from the army we will invest in education. A lot of education. because smart, educated people don’t blow themselves up.

At the end of the day, just like some old Roman dictators, I will give back my power to the people. Some people are bothered when I say all kind of anti democratic statements, like “democracy failed, or it really needs an upgrade”, or the one about that NOT all people should be allowed to vote. Some just think that I am crazy. I think that it’s very logical. The majority are uneducated and easy to manipulate, we should definitely not do what the majority choose. So my idea seems very reasonable: I suggest to put a few multiple choice questions about the candidates and political parties and views right next to the voting polls. If someone don’t know enough about their favorite candidate and the elections – their vote will be discarded (and a bucket of cold water will spill over them with an automatic mechanism).

———————–

Omer Golan is a contemporary new-media and fine artist based in Tel Aviv Israel.
http://omer.arts-collective.com

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Sof HaOlam Yamina (Turn right at the end)

Aug 04 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

The future of a country that gave up on democracy

This is my senior project in visual communication studies in HIT – Holon Institute of Technology.
The project criticizes my country’s current government’s anti-democratic direction in the past year or so. It is a series of illustrations that show an apocalyptic future scenario, in order to provoke and raise questions among Israelis about the direction the country is going, and to think if this is the country we want to become in the future.

Ink and pencil drawings colored by Photoshop.

Sivan Hurvitz
I’m an illustrator and graphic designer, working and living in Tel Aviv, Israel.
In my work I try to express my thoughts and opinions about the reality we’re living in here, with hope of maybe making a change.

My portfolio | sivanhurvitz@gmail.com

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Dictatorship Spot | Mati Shemoelof

Jul 26 2010 Published by under Dictatorship Spot

Born in another time / Mati Shemoelof



Murderous dictatorship
Drowning me
that does not informed on the birth forecasts

And nobody will save you on the new race coast
so I’m running to your static past
but there I discover dynamic dictator
Generals sits in the pit along with the political language

And who will save the theological poetry
Here come the prophetic gangs of racist letters
Praying for the aid of our corpses

Mati Shemoelof – Israeli poet, editor, journalist and activist. Much of Shemoelof’s literary work and activism deals with issues of ethnicity and class among Mizrahi Jews in Israel.


Mati’s Blog

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Multicultural City – Tel Aviv, July 2010

Jul 25 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Series of powerful photographs by Israeli photographer Shaul Golan. The renown photographer shot these five sets of pictures depicting multicultural city – in one sunny hot Tel Aviv day. Israel July 2010.

Palestinian Construction Worker Sleeping

At The Playground

Life Style

Woman’s Portrait

Man’s Portrait

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OPEN CALL FOR ARTISTS AND WRITERS

Jul 23 2010 Published by under Dictatorship Spot, Open Calls

What would you do if you were The Next Great Dictator?

This open call is open to all artists and writers worldwide.

What would happen if you assumed sole and absolute power and control in Israel, or the middle east, or even the entire world?

In the Roman Republic the term “Dictator” did not have the negative meaning it has later assumed. Rather, a Dictator was a person given sole power for a specific limited period, in order to deal with an emergency. At the end of his term, the Dictator was supposed to hand power over to the normal Consular rule and give account of his actions – and Roman Dictators usually did.

Imagine you had an extraordinary amount of personal power, especially the power to make laws without effective restraint, will you be a positive dictator or a mean one?
Submissions to this project are limited only by your imagination and desire to be in control.

We are looking for any kind of art, poetry, plays, images, videos, sound, journalistic pieces, academic extracts, experimental texts, everything and anything which you feel responds to the above question.

All articles should be no more than 1,000 words long and respond to the above question.

The Next Great Dictator

The Next Great Dictator

ArtPolitica will publish your submissions on our Homepage and our Facebook  fan page, along with an abstract of the authors bio and website link at the end of each post.

Please email all submissions to info {at} artpolitica {dot} com with the subject heading “Publication Submission”.

This open call has no deadline for submissions (for the time being).

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