PULSE recently published a series of photographs of photojournalist William Parry’s Christmastime project in London: projecting images of Israel’s apartheid wall in Bethlehem onto edifices in the British capital. (View the images in three separate sets here, here, and here).
Parry has now written a piece entitled “The writing on the other side of the wall” for New Left Project, which begins by mentioning that in November “it was reported that a US-based group called Artists 4 Israel (A4I), modestly calling themselves ‘New York’s finest urban artists’, had attempted to enter Bethlehem to paint over some of the ‘anti-Israeli’ graffiti that appears on Israel’s illegal separation wall”.
The article goes on to address other undertakings by the group—run by Craig Dershowitz, who according to The Jewish Week defines himself as “very distantly related to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz”—such as painting bomb shelters in the Israeli town of Sderot and the illegal West Bank settlement of Ariel. Dershowitz was quoted last April in Ynetnews claiming that “teaching Israeli kids graffiti will help them to not just leave their mark on local walls, but write a better future for the region”, and that such art projects “transform the grim reminders of war… into soaring masterpieces of freedom and expression”.
It would seem that decorating bomb shelters in Israel is in fact a useful means of disappearing what is still visible of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the “Israeli” side of the wall. As Parry notes, “one can’t call it the ‘Israeli’ side as 85% of the wall is or will be built on unilaterally annexed Palestinian land, illegally appropriating 10% of the West Bank. It is the side visible to Israelis, were they to look at it”. He later elaborates on apartheid landscaping techniques:
If one drives along the Israeli toll motorway (Road 6), in places where it runs closely parallel to West Bank areas one doesn’t see the wall – rather, one sees a grassy slope decorated with trees and bushes. In other areas, like the stretch of motorway (Road 443) between Modi’in and East Jerusalem, the side of the wall that Israeli motorists have to see is not an oppressive grey but more pleasing and ‘natural’ sandy hues – camouflage for the conscience.”
Click here to read Parry’s article in its entirety at New Left Project and to view images of both sides of the wall.
Anyone curious about A4I’s response to Parry’s Christmastime project is meanwhile invited to visit the organization’s blog—see specifically this entry, in which we learn that Palestinian laborers photographed by Parry while inhumanly crammed into metal corridors are not unique in their suffering and that “no matter where you are in the world someone is complaining about their commute to work”. Fitting nicely with the theme of inhumanity is the blog’s current top story, which is entitled “Israel is awesome: reason #285930” and is about a turtle that has been equipped with a pair of wheels by Israeli vets following an encounter with a lawnmower.
If A4I really wants to artfully “transform the grim reminders of war” as Dershowitz says, reason #285931 could easily be achieved using victims of other types of Israeli machinery aside from lawnmowers. Issues of mobility aside, decorative wheels would make Palestinian amputees far more aesthetically palatable to Israelis who might see them.