Friday, December 31, 2010

let the promiscuity begin!

Who's in? I'm all hot, bothered, and excited after seeing the hilarious and highly sexual video "Burqa Woman" by Saad Haroon. It's just tickles this lizard part of my brain and I can't seem to control myself!

Ok that is my poor attempt at humor, I'll leave it to the professionals like Saad Haroon. It is a funny video though. Saad is a stand up comedian who performs in both English and Urdu in Pakistan. He is an up and coming comedian who is planning his first international tour. Unfortunately this foray into music video parody didn't go as well as planned because the negative feedback is ranging from "people are going to laugh at us" to people wanting him stoned to death. yes, you read that correctly.

It is reactions like this that regress my mind into that of a three year old asking these people what is the worst that can happen. Will you be punished for being funny or for laughing at a serious topic presented in a humorous manner? There is a log jam in my brain of functional thought because insane reactions are suppressing rationality and causing stupefying confusion. Is there something in the video I'm not seeing? nope, because it is hilarious.

The people with the negative reactions seem to forget that Saad is an observant Muslim and it is highly likely that he did everything on the straight and narrow to make this video. He took so much care not to touch the woman in the hilarious scene of him 'pushing' a woman on a swing. Is the fact that he is funny or a comedian make him into a bad Muslim that deserves death or punishment? It's not like comedy or arabic comedy is a new thing. There are examples from old poets (see quote in the middle from article on top) to the modern day "Axis of Evil" Comedy Tour.

So let's celebrate this comedian and his work instead of trying to shut him up.

ps "i'll go home practice flirting, with a living room curtain." If you aren't on the floor something may be wrong with the comedy part of your brain.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Letter to Vanessa Paradis, Johnny Depp, Karl Lagerfeld, Isabelle Adjani, and Bambou

Dear Vanessa Paradis, Johnny Depp, Karl Lagerfeld, Isabelle Adjani, Bambou, and everyone else coming with you,

THANK YOU!!!!! Your upcoming show/vacation in Israel is going to be amazing not just for you but also for the people eager to see a great performance. Israel has so much to offer that I hope you can take advantage of it all. There are fantastic beaches to lounge on, historical sites, places to hike in the desert or mountains, and many places of unmatched beauty that are too numerous to list here.

I want you to be aware that there are people and groups that will try and pressure you into not performing/coming. I strongly urge you to ignore them. It is easy to get caught up in the hyper-political state of affairs of Israel from people within and without. They will spout lies about the country and about what it stands for. If you take one thing away from your trip there it is that Israel stands for freedom in all it's forms, the same freedoms you enjoy elsewhere.

It is these freedoms that this group, Artists4Israel, are trying to protect, specifically, artistic expression and the freedom of speech/press. These are things that are cherished in Israel as evidenced by its plethora of non-state run newspapers and many cultural centers for the performance arts (to name a few). Sadly, there are pressures against top talent like yourself to not preform there and in the end you and your fans are the ones who are hurt. No one gains from it.

So again.....THANK YOU!!!!!!

p.s. If you need some great places to eat just let us know, we'll hook you up.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sympathy Unswayed

I reread this article about 'photo journalist' (more on that later) William Parry and projection artist Beverly Carpenter "hijacking" of huge wall spaces in London to display photo's of Palestinian children, the check point, and their Christmas message, several times because my emotions were flowing from disgust to anger to sympathy to in-credulousness.

The first thought I thought that William Parry was simply copying what Artist4Israel did with their amazing murality project. Then I realized that would be an insult to that organization, their effort in putting it together, the artists involved, and the work they created. Looking at all the photos just made me laugh, not because they weren't good but because they were so obviously staged. It is just a pale imitation of the original idea. Parry was even helped by someone who worked on that project. The artists in the original at least had interesting art to put on the walls instead of some cheesy poorly stenciled Christmas message.

To be honest, I did like some pictures, the one with the small children. Like this....
I enjoy these photos because they show the resilience of kids and how easy it is for them to simply have fun despite the terrible situation they are in. That is as far as my enjoyment of the photos go though. All the happy feelings are separated away because the longer I look at the photos the more obvious it is that the innocent children are just being used yet again. Parry isn't using them like the typical member of Hamas (i.e. as a human shield) but as a pure propaganda prop. I can almost hear the thoughts in his brain; "oooh look at how they resist!", "oooh look inspirationaly at something off in the distance!", or "oooh look they are just like normal kids!".

Here is a question for you the reader. What was your first reaction to the Christmas message spray painted on the wall? Mine was just plain confusion considering what is really going on in that city. Bethlehem is not the safest place for a Christian and it is directly because it is under Muslim control, NOT Hamas control but rather Fatah control (apparently it doesn't matter which Muslim is in charge). Here was the truely shocking part for me (in case you don't want to read the whole thing)...

"There are many examples of intimidation, beatings, land theft, firebombing of churches and other Christian institutions, denial of employment, economic boycotts, torture, kidnapping, forced marriage, sexual harassment, and extortion," he said. PA officials are directly responsible for many of the attacks, and some Muslims who have converted to Christianity have been murdered.

...Parry, go ahead and bring Bethlehem to London, it sounds like a great idea. I'd like to say that Christians have it better in other places under Muslim rule but sadly i can't.

Even if I ignored all that other crap in the article there is still one tihng that really pissed me off the most. The fact that this douche calls himself a "photo journalist". Every tiny thing in the article points to the fact that this is the furthest thing from the truth. Everything was set up and planned ahead, which is the exact opposite of of what a jounalist is suppose to do. If this was all done internally by a local artist I wouldn't mind as much but since it was "Parry’s initiative", it just pisses me off. He is nothing but a spineless pimp using other people for his gain and spreading false talking points without thinking anything through. Don't think he is profiting from this? then why the plug for his book at the end. Santa's Ghetto ( the original idea) and Artists4israel aren't getting one cent, it is all to the benefit of others.

p.s. I loved the quote by a worker waiting on line at the check point. It kept me laughing. I know that it isn't easy to wait on line to go through security everyday but no matter where you are in the world someone is complaining about their commute to work.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Press: Frank151

From one of our own...

Check out the amazing work in a featured article of one of our artists in residence and all around fantastic guy, Sue Works. He has been affiliated with us for some time, and was on our first trip to Israel on the Murality Project. It is great to have him with us. This is just a small sample of his awesomeness.

Learn more about SueWorks bombing around the world at his facebook.

Friday, December 24, 2010

An exhibition of heroic proportions

Here is an art exhibit by Oren Golan and Yonathan Pasternak in Tel Aviv. These amazing photographs show the everyday workers and people of Israel re-imagined as superheroes. The artists were inspired by a Marilyn Manson cover of the John Lenon classic "Working Class Heroes". I like that the focus is on the 'normal' citizen of Israel. Too often the focus of what life in Israel is all about is displayed through solders defending themselves. Here is a look at the other side, of people trying to simply live an average life that so many of us get to enjoy on a regular basis.

P.S. A Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Press: Sderot Paper

Half a year later and we are still front page!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Mysterious "After" Life in Israel

The Mysterious “After” Life in Israel
*with apologies to the memory of William Safire

Bon Jovi is playing in Israel! The news trumpets down from the heavens as if herald angels were singing and not, as in actuality, a Jersey born and bred pop and rock balladeer. To read the Jewish and Israeli press (most notably, the JTA and Ha’aretz), this is some great, earth-shattering story. As if, all along, we had been (excuse the pun) Livin’ on a Prayer.

It is not. A band or performer playing in Israel should be commonplace. It should be expected. It is both. It should be met with as much reverence as only the most caring fan has for that particular artist. Israel is a home to the arts. Israel has multiple protections for free speech, free expression and other freedoms that are the lifeblood of artistic creation. It also has a large and exuberant population that turns any concert into a huge party. Bon Jovi playing in Israel (with all due respect to the artist) should be met with a yawn, not an exclamation point.

The exclamation is made necessary only by the use of another figment of speech that has arbitrary value assigned to it – the word “after.” Each article explains that Bon Jovi’s decision comes “after” decisions by other bands not to play in Israel. Some of these bands claiming, of course, that they were participating in some sort of political action – some sort of poorly conceived “boycott” against the state. Others simply found themselves unable to sell enough tickets to justify the expense of travel to Israel (after all, it seems odd that most of the “boycotters” were washed up, talent-questionable acts way “after” the heyday of their career).

Many events have occurred before Bon Jovi’s tour to Israel. For instance, we have the many wars by which Israel protected their citizens from Arab aggression. There are also the establishment of the many laws that protect artists which make Israel such a welcoming home to creatives. Of course, Bon Jovi’s decision also comes after Israel created the many museums, galleries, concert halls and venues that make it a perfect venue to listen to some good, old New Jersey rock n’ roll. Why do our papers not choose to start their timeline where it really ought to begin – at the beginning with Bon Jovi and his manager saying “you know what, I want to rock Tel Aviv!”

This dangerous “after” has been seen before. In our constant defense of our existence as a state, there is the idea that we were created “after” the Holocaust. When we discuss the war crimes against Sderot, we express how it happened “after” we pulled out of Gaza. And, of course, every military action, no matter how relevant and important occurs “after” some particularly nasty terrorist attack.

Words have a funny power. “After” is meant to create a timeline but, in the hyper-Jewish usage, it becomes an equal sign, forever equating the two items that surround it. The decision by some washed-up folk rock act from a backwater of England to not play a dive bar in a small town in Israel should not equal the decision by one of the world’s most popular rock musician to perform in a major concert venue in Tel Aviv. It doesn’t, not until the newspaper puts that magic “after” before it. Similarly, this “after” becomes a greater or less than sign. Depending on the reader, Bon Jovi’s decision is either significantly more important due to the incident that occurred before, making Israel seem like some Banana Republic on the verge of losing its artistic merit or it degrades the action, turning it into a political gesture it is not.

This is indicative of a wider problem with Israeli advocacy and Jewish self-conceptualization. The constant need to justify ourselves and our actions create a belief that the justification is needed. Further, these articles do no more than re-affirm the mistaken and under-informed political opinion of meaningless pseudo-celebrities and the swill their P.R. agent wrote in between bong hits and trying to figure out where they might actually sell a few tickets. I hate to be so blatant, but these editors deserve some (wait for it) Bad Medicine.

Now, I will most likely be attending Bon Jovi’s concert – after I eat dinner and run my errands for the day. And, although it will be the highlight of my day, it probably will stop there as far as significance goes. If Bon Jovi isn’t your bag, I suggest you check any one of the other, numerous music venues, art shows, photography exhibits, and million other artsy things to do in the beautiful, creative, cosmopolitan country of Israel.

“After” all, art is about the future.

Letter to Bon Jovi

Dear Jon "Bon" Jovi,
Artists 4 Israel is writing this letter to express our delight that you will be playing in Israel and thus able to enjoy the beautiful, creative, and vibrant country and society that is Israel.

When you arrive in Israel, Artists 4 Israel urges you to explore the country and see all that it has to offer. This small country has an incredible and dazzling array of attractions for you to enjoy during your visit, from the lush beaches in Tel Aviv, to the history and stone buildings in Jerusalem, to the enchantment of Safed and the North, to the dessert allure of the South. There even is skiing at Mount Hermon in the North! This small country of six million residents boasts some of the highest numbers of artists, scientists, musicians, and entreprenuers per capita, in the world.
If you want to meet some of them, let us know and we will happily set you up with some really cool people doing exciting and creative things.

What most people may not be aware of is that fact that Israel is the one country in the Middle East where Arabs and Jews live side-by-side in peace and security - most prominently in cities such as Haifa and Jerusalem.
Artists 4 Israel is proud to support this dazzling country, and is thrilled that you will entertain Israelis with your music, and get the chance to appreciate the country that we so love and cherish.
Yours Truly,
Artists 4 Israel

Editor Note: Thank you to Racquel Reinstein, Dan Brooks, Ariela Robinson and Erik Levis

An Accidental Settler

An Accidental Settler?
by Craig Dershowitz

Hector “Nicer” Nazario was unsettled.

Nicer is one of the foremost respected legends of the New York graffiti movement. In the 1980s, he brought a local art form global and provided it with cultural and artistic significance. He has traveled the world, working for multi-national corporations, defining the look of whole industries and creating a worldwide phenomenon that has, at once, found a home inside and, more often, outside of the greatest museums. Even more important to Nicer, he knows that children from sub-Saharan Africa to the tip of Iceland are inspired by him – they take turns trying to practice and perfect the way he scribbles his “N.” He said yes to the Artists 4 Israel Breaking the Siege trip because of the children. Maybe he said yes for one child in particular. But, for this journey he was unprepared.

Before he boarded the El Al flight, Nicer learned that his trip to Israel would not be of the tourist type. Although he would get to bask in the Tel Aviv sun rays, experiencing what is considered one of the greatest party cities in the world and although he would visit Jerusalem, walking freely among the many religious sites that are protected by the Israeli government, he would also visit the war-torn and dangerous areas. Nicer was told he was to walk among the settlers – those imagined zealots who patrol Greater Israel with a rifle in one hand and a bible in the other. Nicer was to visit the dreaded settlements and come face to face with the Middle Eastern conflict and all the confusion and aggression that defines it. The most children he might meet would be soldiers – teenagers turned adult by weapons slung across their growing shoulders. He was nervous boarding that plane.

It is believed that you find Gd in a foxhole. But with each crazily-dressed sect of Orthodox Jew rising to turn and pray, it was as if Gd was whirling around, ricocheting off the tin can of a plane. So many prayers and beliefs, you assume someone must be right. And, if so, the whole plane is protected. The whole journey is safe. Unless so many opinions means no one is right. That would be bad.

It was a bad event that brought Nicer to this crazy, whirling, flying belief blimp in the first place. A very real bullet, without ricochet, without intention, without aim, struck and killed his son. Dead. A terrible accident.

Nicer was coming to say his goodbyes. He was coming closer to Gd to ask for his son’s eternal protection.

But, first, he had to walk the precipice of politics and the sharp, cutting edges of misinformed, popular opinion. “Jerusalem will come,” he was told, “but first you must see all of Israel.” As a non-Jew and as a respected and honest man, he knew that if he made it home from this journey, he would have many questions to answer. While he went to ask the unanswerable – others wanted him to return with all of them. Sponsored by Artists 4 Israel, Nicer was to be shown the whole of Israel so that, unlike the enemies who hiss and shriek against the country without knowledge, he could speak comprehensively and intelligently.

Nicer spent a week and a half in places where the newspapers say the bad guys live. He spent time in B’nei Netzarim, a religious community that had been evacuated from Gush Gatif in the Gaza Strip. He watched them swimming in the sands of the desert, humble families, rebuilding their homes. Bet El, a settlement founded on the site of Jacob’s Ladder to heaven, welcomed him with open arms. They served orange slices and beans and rice. The trip to Neve Yaacov was difficult – the racist GPS refused to find directions to this Northernmost Jerusalem community built outside the borders of the Green Line. But, once there, he entered a break dance battle with the young kids of the community. Some of the children were black, some Russian, some indistinguishable. One or two even looked like his deceased son.

He came to the border of Bethlehem, a holy site to this pious man – perfect place to pray for his son. But, he was chased from the town by the intimidating glares of its Arab residents and the threat of violence. When safely near the entrance, protected by the young men of the Israeli Defense Forces, he saw the sign that forbade Israelis from entering. Like dogs, niggers and Jews in the South in the 1960’s, Israelis were not welcome. He had traveled too long and too far with these Israelis to abandon them now. The journey continued.

Across Route 60, where so many Jewish children lost their lives to the intentional bullet of an Arab sniper, he saw and painted the concrete barriers where children are taught to hide the next time a terrorist takes aim. Finally, he spent a significant amount of time in Ariel, that controversial community within Samaria (or what the papers mistakenly refer to as the West Bank). He led classes, teaching little kids about art. He spent time with families, sitting in the clear night, playing guitar, drinking strong coffee and exploring the themes of home and place.

At one point, he looked out across the sweeping expanse of desert and empty space and asked why people would fight over land when there was so much there, unclaimed. Mayor Ron Nachum, unintentionally, answered. He had come to Ariel when it was just an arid and fearful mountaintop. He and his family and two tents sat in a place where no one else wanted to be. Today, Ariel is a beautiful, thriving near-Metropolis with a large and proud community, a college where all can enter and learn, Arab and Jewish alike, and an Arts Center.

That Arts Center is what started all this traveling in the first place. It was there that the citizens of Ariel were hoping to grow and learn and enjoy the fruits of culture. It was there, as in all arts spaces, where dialogue and hope could happen. Ariel was no longer two tents. But, just as Ron Nachum had built a glorious city, the enemies of Israel sought to tear it down. They wanted to ruin something that Israel had built for no other reason than Israel had built it. A few, misinformed, silly artists tried to stifle dialogue and discussion in the Arts Center. They chose self-censorship over thought. Nicer and the other artists he traveled with chose to break that boycott. Nicer says “Art belongs to the people.”

Nicer watched Yigal Golan perform and laughed at the Justin Bieber like hysteria caused by this one man singing in a language he didn’t understand. It was after this concert, after a week and a half traveling from settlement to settlement, that Nicer looked at the organizers of the trip and asked “When are we going to see the bad Jews? When are we going to see the religious nut jobs and the newspaper-described oppressors and agitators? He was told to look around him. He was told that he had been traveling, living, and creating great works of art among them for the last two weeks. He was told that, according to the papers and pundits, he had been living amongst the most guilty of Israelis.

One young Israeli looked at Nicer and said “you look like a settler.” And, he did. Indistinguishable from those around him, Nicer learned that that term settler referred, in reality, to one who had settled the land. Like he had settled graffiti as a respected and commercially viable art form. He had settled down from his journey. He had settled down from fear and questioning. In fact, Nicer had settled down to find home and family and art in a place that “reminds me of my childhood home – a community where people work and live together, with mutual respect and understanding.”

Then, Nicer went to Jerusalem. He placed a folded up piece of paper in the Western Wall. Then, he made one last journey. He visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and lit a candle for his son. And, finally, he was settled.

Monday, December 13, 2010

An Open Letter to Roger Cohen

Dear Roger,

You are a coy one.

You were raised in London where you were denied a scholarship based on your religion. You, then, without much incident, accepted another scholarship, taking up no fight against the bigots who had betrayed you previously.

I was raised in Brooklyn, New York. One time I was mugged by two African-Americans.

Each of the above stories seem about as relevant as Ira Stup's background. Probably more relevant though when you consider we are, at least, protagonists in this letter - unlike Ira, a poor vehicle for your venom in your most recent piece. By the way, whatever was he researching with that fellowship in Israel? Ah, for another time then, hey?

I return from your Op-Ed, The 'Real Jew' Debate, in the New York Times deeply troubled.

You see, as President of Artists 4 Israel, it is my proud duty to teach the world about the freedoms that Israel defends which create the opportunity for artistic expression. Included in that glorious array of artistic mediums is, of course, writing and, consequentially, journalism. As such a noted and long-historied purveyor of this craft, I imagined that you would be a clear example of reportage done right. I turn to your example for guidance.

In The 'Real Jew' Debate you draw large, finite opinions based on minimal, anecdotal, suspicious evidence. Your words read like a 12 year old's diary, full of lies, innuendo, gossip, rumor and these ridiculously clipped, short, silly sentences. You condemn an entire people - nay, an entire two countries - based on the supposed, unverifiable actions of a few individuals (some Yarmulke wearing Jews. In Israel nonetheless. Super specific. Super hate-mongering). Is this your lesson?

Am I to infer based on my experiences in Coney Island, Brooklyn that all African-Americans are thieves and criminals? Surely, you would not want me to stereotype in such a obviously derogatory and offensive way. There can be no truth in that.

Am I to infer, based on the singular and undocumented experience I found in your wiki regarding your denied scholarship that all Londoners are anti-semitic racists? Am I, then, to infer, based on your action of accepting a different award, that you are far less critical of those who wish you harm than your greedy and self-serving. Perhaps there is truth in this.

As a journalist, I imagined you would attempt to draw upon information from all sides in a story. I recognize the shorthand of Op-Ed but certainly can't imagine that such a distinguished writer as yourself would allow any of your prose to be weighted by one-sidedness and opportunism. But, here comes the lopsided Op-Ed, heavy with quotations from J Street, an organization who has time and again been discredited and seemingly fictitious stories about one, inconsequential man from Philly but light and paper-thin with any real evidence, fact, truth or, for that matter, opinion from those of who your sources are most critical.

You have not built a straw man for me to discredit. Instead, you have turned a straw man into a straw kingdom, complete with straw homes, castles and straw intrigue. What a compelling, albeit fictional, narrative you unwind before us.

Are you character modeling? Perhaps Ira and J Street represent an everyman meant to battle the behemoth of the mass of Israeli-advocacy organizations you name. But, certainly, if these organizations were so monolithic, you'd be able to find some quotes or other evidence of their wrong-doing than simply allowing J Street to paraphrase their purposes. Your article cries for unfettered and fair debate but falls incredibly short of providing an example of such and, to paraphrase you, your Op-Ed remains "stifled."

Let me help. Artists 4 Israel supports Israel's right to exist in peace and security. And, although we do not write this in our mission statement - there is a very clearly implied "no matter what" at the end of that support. The right to freedom, liberty and self-determination is unmistakeable. So, too, is the right to self defense. What is not a right is for me, the organization or any other armchair diplomats to determine the correct course of action for any state. Bush and Clinton have been stymied by this debate and now, too, Obama is being stumped. That is because, like you, they so far want to see peace that they forget their must be a peace partner. Let us call that by its literary term - intentional fallacy.

Hamas - with their declaration yet again today that they want all of Israel are not that partner. History has proven that the PA is not that partner. Who then? Perhaps you could build another straw man - a surprise character to move this issue along. Or, are you too busy ignoring your readers?

To dismiss the variety of opinions on Israel and America's open society in one huge breath, you would have the power to blow away the credibility of your own words. Perhaps you are far better at literature where your failure to consider any opinion but your own mirrors the obtuse and uneducated viewpoints of your lone source. You do wonders at narratively foreshadowing the telling incident that best describes your sort of debate - rude, obnoxious, hecklers who trade bumper sticker slogans and poster marker for serious, intellectual dialogue.

I choose, then, to hold you in high esteem as a fiction author. You have created absolutely mesmerizing characters of the truest post-Modern ilk, removed from reality and unbound by societal truth and convention. Bravo. Otherwise, were I to still consider you a journalist, such blatant disregard for journalistic standards is insulting to your readers, and evidence that perhaps you really are far more self-serving than credible. Perhaps your lesson of stereotyping is right after all. You are a coy one, Mr. Cohen.

Let the blacks know - bigotry is reborn.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Open Letter to Thomas Quasthoff

Dear Mr. Quasthoff:

We are writing in response to the letter you received from BRICUP urging you to cancel your upcoming concerts in Israel. As to why that letter was dishonest, and why your performing in Israel will strengthen the forces of co-existence, we hope you will hear us out.

In the most revealing part of the letter, the writers feign concern for Israeli suffering, by insisting they are “not denying that Israeli children have been killed and maimed, mainly by suicide bombings by Palestinian militants. We do not condone these actions.”

What the writers omit is telling. More than suicide bombings, the scourge afflicting Israeli children today are rocket attacks. These rockets, for the past decade, have been fired into Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas, a radical Islamist regime that has made clear its intention of destroying Israel through violent jihad.

Since Hamas took control there four years ago, Israel has had to partially blockade Gaza. Only partially, since Israel daily transfers tons of food, fuel and other essentials into the Strip, but bans materials that have been used by Hamas to make rockets and other arms. It’s an unprecedented situation in which a country provides food, electricity, fuel and other goods to a people violently attacking it. Also unprecedented was Israel’s attempt to minimize civilian deaths resulting from its operation two years ago. Israel’s goal was to destroy Hamas rocket launchers and terrorists who hid among Gaza’s citizens – in schools, mosques and apartment buildings.

Israel also maintains a corridor for the transfer of medical patients out of Gaza, and facing daily security threats, has actually increased the number of Gazans traveling to Israel to receive medical treatment. The system experiences obvious delays due to the abuse by Hamas of medical passes and crossing points. Militants play the part of patients or their family members and use the system to infiltrate into Israel to perpetrate an attack, or transfer materials to militants in the West Bank. The case of a two-year old girl in Gaza dying from leukemia is horrible, but it should be blamed not on Israel, but on Hamas which has forced Israel to tighten its borders.

It is important to set the record straight, and address each of the accusations in the letter.

The accusation that Gaza’s hospitals are prevented from importing radiation machines is simply not true.

Also false is the charge that Israel is responsible for contaminated Gaza water. Years before Hamas took control, Gaza health officials were warning that Palestinian sand thieves were endangering the sewage system and risking a crisis. Numerous Palestinian health officials have also issued public condemnations of the Palestinian Authority for failing to address water and sewage issues.

Aside from shooting rockets into Israel, Hamas and other militants in Gaza also try to infiltrate Israel. They do this by either digging tunnels near the border fence, or simply by cutting holes in the fence, hoping the Israeli army doesn’t notice. These militants, often teenagers, account for the “16 children” the letter writers say were “deliberately shot” by the Israeli army.

The letter refers to an Israeli mother of a suicide bomb victim and how she “has turned her grief into determined activism against the Israeli occupation”. While the mother’s grief is no doubt real, her agenda is influenced by her politics, which are very much outside the Israeli mainstream. Most Israelis react to Palestinian attacks against them in a different way – seeing them motivated not by “the occupation,” but by an ideology that advocates for dominance over Jews, and anyone who is different – who isn’t Arab-Muslim. It is this ideology – taught in Palestinian schools, mosques and through the media – that increases militancy in the West Bank and Gaza and prevents Israel from withdrawing its forces from territory; prevents Israel from having a Palestinian partner that truly wants to end the conflict.

The letter writers subscribe to the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel. This movement does not seek any sort of peace accord with Israel. They seek Israel’s demise; to replace Israel with one state that will be dominated by Palestinians. They hope to do this by turning world opinion against Israel. Please do not be their pawn.