Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors


Israel, Palestine and a Triumph for Freedom of Speech

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Time Magazine has an article under the banner Postcard from Ramallah. It describes a compelling exercise in freedom of speech and conscious worthy of celebration, regardless of what one thinks of the situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories or even the wall/security barrier/fence itself. Sadly, the story is told with such rage at Israel, that it’s hard to see that. Once again those who share the author’s bias will stoke the furnaces of their own rage. Those who don’t share that hostility will use the presence of ugly bias to deflect the real lessons to be learned from this amazing project.
The truth is that it is hard to take seriously any author who opens their work with the following: “Few things are as monumentally ugly as the Israeli separation wall on Jerusalem’s edge.” Either the author, Tim Mcgirk has had a very sheltered life or has no awareness of how many things are going on in this world that are much, much uglier. That or he just hates Israel so much that he cannot help himself from making truly stupid and totally insensitive remarks.


“Few things are as ugly”? How about burying a child whose remains are so mangled that they are contained in a bag? That’s what happens when your kid is buying pizza or sitting in their S’derot living room at the wrong moment. It’s also what happens when they are watching TV in a Gaza home that happens to be next door to a Hamas leader. And whatever one thinks about the politics of either of those situations, both are a hell of a lot uglier than any wall.
The project Mr. Mcgirk describes however is anything but ugly. In fact, as described it might be one of the healthiest and most powerful expressions of political/social activism in the region. A group of Dutch and Palestinian activists have teamed up and for 40 dollars anyone can have a message inscribed on the Palestinian side of the wall by one of three artist/activists, Faris Arouri, Yousef Nijim and Raji Najam. They even send you a PDF of your message after it has been put up. The only rules? No hate and no anti-Semitism.
Activism with ethical obligations to those one opposes? Genuine boldness combined with real sensitivity? These guys are amazing! How many social and politcal leaders right here at home could take a lesson?
This is politics at its best and whatever one thinks of the barrier and how it has been used, what these guys are attempting is wonderfully revolutionary. And to those who object, let me suggest that you spend forty dollars and have your non-hateful objections posted for all to read.



  • Robert

    As we would say in the Christian South, amen!

  • New Age Cowboy
  • DML

    I read the article and I don’t see bias or rage in it at all. It strikes me as rather accurate and balanced. The violence and the loss of innocent life are ugly and so is the wall. As to the painting, it is a very limited ‘freedom’ these activists enjoy, to be enjoyed purely at the discretion of the soldiers patrolling the wall. Without Dutch support, these guys would be cut to pieces. To me, this is more of a gimmick, the messages unintelligible to the Palestinians and invisible to the other side.
    A modest proposal… let them paint their messages on the other side.

  • Denis

    What is DML on about? The barrier is 97% fence. So why not call it a fence? It is only one of dozens of similar barriers round the world. In my native Belfast we still have a ‘Peace Wall’ that is even uglier. A lot of people die every year trying to go through the N. Korean barrier. DML writes ‘Without Dutch support, these guys would be cut to pieces.’ Come again? Who would ‘cut them to pieces?’ Israeli troops? Only if they are planning to use weapons or wearing suicide belts. And even then, if detected, they would normally be disarmed, something that has happened many, many times. The barrier has cut down terrorist attacks out of the West Bank by over 80%. That’s a lot of lives saved. Or does DML think it’s an ugly thing to save lives? Nobody forces the Palestinians to prefer terrorism to making peace. Painting pretty pictures on the wall won’t amount to anything if they still indoctrinate their children in how to become a martyr and kill Jews. The Israelis are defending themselves against people who will not make peace even in their own best interest. The barrier is one result.

  • Your Name

    Hello Brad, I lost my daughter when she was four? She had a rare liver cancer? She suffered horribly, all along when she screamed and cried it was torture for her and in me it was like ripping my guts out? But I knew with the hope of God it was for the best that she would get well? She did for awhile, and then we lost her at Mayo Clinic’s hospital St Mary’s very appropriate for a little Jewish girl? However to think that people torture children or sacrifice them enrages me? The worst thing in the world is for a mother to have her own child to die in her arms, or die in any way? It rips your soul right out of your body, and your spirit is shattered, leaves you feeling like the Black Hole? However I recovered to a point to where I helped others to improve their humanity with children sick with Cancer? This is just not enough? All people but especially children should be treated with dignity and appreciation of that they are human. There is no question to this? But we are constantly battling the 3rd world creatures from the Black Lagoons? They creep up in all our societies, everywhere as if this is the time of all is being revealed? It is scary in a way but to those that are wondering about this? NO YOU NEVER RECOVER FROM THE LOSS OF YOUR OWN CHILD NO MATTER WHAT? YES SHE IS IN GOD’S HANDS BUT THE EMPTINESS IS STILL THERE, YOU JUST STAY BUSY TO FILL THE BIG HOLE IN YOUR HEART AND TRY TO BREATHE?

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