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Politics is dead, killed by art in Nablus
By MEL ALEXENBERG
23/06/2014
Peres is right. Politics is dead. Murdered by art in Nablus.
 
President Shimon Peres declared that “politics is dead” in his address at the Knesset honoring the 2014 Wolf Prize laureates on June 1. He spoke against the backdrop of Chagall’s colossal tapestries alongside world leaders in science and art being awarded the prestigious prize.

Peres’ erudite talk expressed the hope that peace would come when Israel’s neighbors join it in creating a better life for its people through apolitical scientific research and artistic creativity. In his multiple roles in the Israeli government, he was a close-up witness to the dismal failure of all “peace processes” and “road maps” from Oslo to Obama.

His “politics is dead” speech was confirmed the next day as Fatah teamed up with Hamas, branded a terrorist organization by EU, US, Egypt and numerous other countries. While the newly formed government in Ramallah posed for a photo-op, rockets from Gaza were fired into Israel. Fatah’s “moderate” mask has been removed to reveal terrorists in suits. All along, Fatah was no different than the militant jihadist Hamas that called for destroying Israel and massacring of all its Jews.

Fatah hoodwinked the world in English into believing it sought peace while in Arabic they called for the annihilation of Israel and celebrated terrorist mass murderers by naming squares, streets and schools after them. In a children’s show on Palestinian Authority television, you can view a child proudly reciting a poem calling Jews “the most evil among creations, barbaric monkeys and wretched pigs.”

At least they were honest stating in English that they will never accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People. They were backed by the emphatic declaration at the 2014 Arab League summit in Kuwait in March: “We express our absolute and decisive rejection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.”

Hamas always remained up-front, explicitly stating its aims on its English website for all to see: “So-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the Islamic Resistance Movement.” The Hamas charter states that the sole path is the violent destruction of the Zionist state through armed struggle and mass murder: “The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight Jews and kill them.”

Forgetting 9/11, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are being joined by EU’s modern-day Chamberlains in chanting “peace in our time.” They are ignoring their own terrorist designation to embrace the united Hamas-Fatah front’s effort to wipe Israel off the map. These misguided Americans and anti-Semitic Europeans chose to ignore that fact that PA’s new “technocratic government” is headed by Rami Hamdallah, longtime president of An-Najah University in Nablus, the hotbed of hatred for Israel and America and the center for recruitment of terrorists.

In President Peres’ call for peace through joint efforts of Arabs and Jews in science and art he echoed the words appearing on The Peres Center for Peace website proposing that art and creativity can inspire new approaches and create new metaphors to transform attitudes fixed in old patterns of mutual mistrust and prejudice. His hopes are dashed by the use of art by Hamdallah’s students to glorify the mass murder of Jews. Instead of creating art to embrace peace, they created an artwork reveling in the death of 15 Israelis including seven children and a pregnant woman, and the maiming of over a hundred others in August 2001.

At Hamdallah’s university, a grotesque art exhibition was mounted celebrating the slaughter by a Palestinian Arab suicide bomber of women, men, children and entire families eating pizza in the heart of Jerusalem. A group of An-Najah art students constructed a replica of the Sbarro pizzeria, site of the massacre.

Visitors pushed to see realistically sculpted body parts and pizza slices strewn throughout an environment set for a performance artwork.

Wearing a terrorist’s military uniform and black mask, the performance artist entered the mock pizzeria under a sign reading “Kosher Sbarro” and set off a simulated explosion to the cheers of the crowd. Upon entering and leaving, the visitors enthusiastically wiped their feet on Israeli and American flags used as doormats.

Visitors then encountered a mannequin outfitted as a terrorist standing next to a large boulder. A recording placed behind the rock called out in Arabic: “O believer, there is a Jewish man behind me, come and kill him.” In another room, two students dressed as suicide bombers, each with the Koran in one hand a Kalashnikov assault rifle in the other, were reenacting the grisly last testaments in front of a video camera that suicide bombers create before carrying out their deadly attacks.

Historian of Islamic art Elisabeth Siddiqui writes in the Arabic journal Al-Madrashah Al-Ula that art is the mirror of a culture and its worldview. She emphasizes that there is no case to which this statement more directly applies than to the art of the Islamic world.

As former professor of art at Columbia University and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, I concur with Siddiqui.

The values of Hamdallah are mirrored in his students’ art that praises terrorism and genocide.

Another artistic indictment is the logo design of An-Najah’s student council. A green map of Israel and the territories is partly obscured in the background. A black M-16 rifle is superimposed over the upper section of the map with a black flag, attached to the rifle, to the left. To the right, black lettering translates as “Muslim Palestine Bloc.” The gun rests on a globe, which in turn rests on the Koran. Encircling the globe and Koran is a red crescent with the inscription: “An-Najah National University.”

Green is the color of Islam; the fact that both Israel (and the territories) and the globe are in green signifies the group’s desire to Islamize them. The rifle and the flag are symbols of militancy. The Koran, upon which the globe rests, is considered the foundation of the movement. The red crescent symbolizes Islam.

Under Rami Hamdallah’s watch, the An-Najah student council has promoted anti-Israel violence and recruits Palestinian Arab college students into terrorist groups. The council, almost completely controlled by factions loyal to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah, glorifies suicide bombings and propagandizes for jihad against Israel. Hamas itself has described An-Najah as a “greenhouse for martyrs.”

The gruesome An-Najah art exhibition, logo symbolizing the elimination of Israel leading to Islam’s conquest of the entire world, and the terrorist activism of its student council reveal the values of Hamdallah.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who appointed Rami Hamdallah, assured Secretary of State Kerry that his new technocratic government is committed to the principles of nonviolence and negotiation.

Hamdallah, a PhD-holding head of a university where mass murder is celebrated, is a fitting choice for Abbas, who builds monuments for terrorists and wrote his own PhD thesis denying the Holocaust. Neither are mere technocrats.

Peres is right. Politics is dead. Murdered by art in Nablus.

The author is a member of the Council of the Wolf Foundation. His book The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness is published by Intellect Books/ University of Chicago Press. He was art professor at Columbia University and research fellow at MIT.
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