Children stand in front of an Artists for Israel mural in Indonesia (Craig Dershowitz).
(photo credit: CRAIG DERSHOWITZ)
Artists 4 Israel, an arts-focused Israel advocacy organization, has taken on a new project in an unlikely place: Indonesia.
The Asian island-chain, home to the world's largest Muslim population, is not known for being a friend of Israel. The countries do not share diplomatic relations, and according to one BBC poll, some 75% of the country's citizens do not view Israel favorably.
This didn't stop the organization's director, Craig Dershowitz, from trying, though.
"Art is creation, rebirth. It is the most powerful force on earth. Artists for Israel harnesses that power to make Israel beautiful and new in the eyes of the world," Dershowitz told The Jerusalem Post.
"Hatred and intolerance of Israel is real, but so is the power to end it," he added.
He has run into troubles though. One organization that A4I is working with in Yogykarta has requested that their press releases leave off the name of Dershowitz's organization, saying that any association - or perceived association - with Israel might endanger their employees or their families.
During the two-week trip, Dershowitz and 7 international artists are traveling to Bali, East Timor and Yogyakarta, where they will work with a team of 15 Indonesian artists to paint murals. The trip, which is part of Artists for Israel's 'Art Over Hate' program, aims to bring together individuals of different faiths to promote coexistence through art.
In East Timor, they were received a welcome of honor by the city's mayor and its police force. In Yogyakarta, the artists will work with an organization which uses art to keep teenagers off the streets, and in Flores, they are working with a local university.
Next, A4I will travel to South Africa, England and Portugal to promote the same messages of peace and coexistence through creation.
A4I operates several other programs, including their Healing Arts Kits, which use art to help children with post-traumatic stress disorder, and Healing Ink
, in which renowned tattoo artists ink survivors of terror attacks.
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