Make Art, Not War

In the wee hours of this morning, Artists 4 Israel’s Paint Israel week long adventure concluded with this comment from a participant, “The trip ends exactly as it should. On a Tel Aviv rooftop, surrounded by art, with AFK playing a James Brown song while international artists breakdance and an angry cop threatens to put us all in jail.”

Paint Israel: where 16 international and local artists traveled together to paint bomb shelters, community centers, schools and whatever else they could get their hands on. They began in S’derot, traveled to the Dead Sea, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. They not only painted, but participated in art therapy programs and workshops. They came with messages of hope and peace and in the South, beautified areas where rockets recently fell. And most of all, they experienced first-hand Israel’s youth culture.

According to Craig Dershowitz, president of Artists 4 Israel, the New York based advocacy group that planned the trip, “We couldn’t be here to build the bomb shelters or fight in the war, but we can help the people fight the debilitating effects, which are just as bad. We can step in and help reignite the city that has suffered for so long, with our artwork.

Some of the artists here are used to being flown first-class and housed in five-star hotels for commissioned work. Here they sleep on the floor, six people to a room at the local yeshiva building. They contributed valuable time and art that can sometimes be sold for as much as $10,000, expressing their support for Sderot and Israel.

There tends to be a misconception that the arts community is liberal and as such doesn’t support Israel. The truth is that those who do are oftentimes silent. The graffiti community is never silent. …

After spending more than a week working side-by-side with Israeli artists – living with them, eating with them and traveling the length and breadth of the country with their Israeli peers – the New Yorkers are going to have a lot of positive experiences to share when they get home. We hope they will then tell people about a different side to Israel than usually gets reported in the media, a country not defined by past conflicts but filled with a vibrant youth culture looking towards a bright future for everyone in the region.”