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September 13, 2015 5:40 am

Why Boycotting Israeli Art Is an Attack on Our Humanity

avatar by Lana Melman

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Photo: Facebook.

Photo: Facebook.

I wonder what our prayers sound like to God during these Days of Awe. As the earth spins on its axis and Jews across the globe gather together to worship, I imagine that God hears our longings as a symphony — each soul a note, singular, exceptional and essential to the whole. Our hearts, the instruments; our words, music to God’s ears.

When the shofar sounds and our voices float heavenward, we give great reflection to, among other things, the power of something uniquely human: the power of speech. We ask for forgiveness for mistakes that originate as often from our lips as from our deeds. We repent for words that are negative, meaningless, traitorous, foolish, vulgar, and deceitful, for we understand the eternal truth in King Solomon’s observation, “Life and death are in the hands of the tongue” [Proverbs 18:21]

The very idea of prayer, however, recognizes the power of speech not just to harm, but to uplift and transform. We uplift and transform ourselves with prayer, each other with kind words, and the world through art.

Art, the universal language, touches us all; atheist and Orthodox, Christian, Muslim and Jew. It is both earthly and divine; the gift of creation from the Creator.

Tragically, today, art is under siege. With the cultural Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) effort against Israel, politically motivated organizations and individuals in free Western societies are using censorship as a strategy to advance their agenda.

Proponents of the cultural boycott want to prevent international audiences from experiencing Israeli art and want to cut the flow of world art going into Israel. They want to bar films from festivals, silence instruments, and take canvases off walls.

The risk posed to mankind goes far beyond Israel’s borders or the lineage of the Jewish people. Boycott proponents have orchestrated a social media and on-the-ground campaign of intimidation that, left unchecked, poses an existential threat to the freedom of artistic expression.

Art is integral to the human experience. It is a connective tissue between people and places. It simultaneously reflects the world in which we live and serves as a vehicle for change.

Artists challenge us, bring us together, and provide a bedrock for peace.

From the poetry of King David, to the writings of postmodern linguist Ludwig Wittgenstein, traditions both spiritual and secular recognize art’s unique ability to help us understand the world around us in profoundly deep ways that extend beyond the capacity of mere conscious thought.

A song can elevate a moment; a book can inspire one’s mind to new thinking. With a human’s breath, the ram’s horn shatters hearts of stone and washes away layers of complacency. Its call is capable of bringing us back to places inside ourselves impenetrable by any other means.

The proximate target of the boycott effort is Israel, but freedom of artistic expression, fundamental to our humanity, is its ultimate victim.

This article was originally published by The Jewish Journal. 

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  • Cynthia

    You asked: What our prayers sound like to God amidst all of the clamor that is taking place? Who’s prayers? I say this because God himself told us that in the last days, just before the tribulation there would only be a remnant of his Church and his people. Who knows who they are, or where they are? I would say that the time is very close to begin the animal sacrifices again to God for him to hear the prayers of those who would send them up in this manner. They have to start, so that they can be stopped and the tribulation begins. Keep your eyes on the prize in all of this: God is building his family, and he will not be mocked for much longer before he destroys the temple mount once again and purified it.

    • Cynthia

      The people of God are known by them and by him.

  • Because namely the EU have adopted the same rules, laws and procedures the Nazi had against Jews in Germany.

    In meantime the Fuehrers of the EU have learned and know exactly how to defame and demonize not only the Jewish State Israel but also Jews.

    Do not forget, the the “New Israel Fund” NIF, JFP, JStreet and JCall are supporting BDS against Israel and against Jews.