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April 7, 2016 7:38 am

‘Artists 4 Israel’ Paint to Promote Peace, Dialogue at York University

avatar by Andrew Pessin

Canvasses by Artists 4 Israel at York University. Photo: Facebook

Canvasses by Artists 4 Israel at York University. Photo: Facebook

A pro-Israel student group at Canada’s York University invited like-minded artists to campus last month to promote peace and dialogue through art, The Algemeiner has learned.

Hasbara at York brought three graffiti artists from “Artists 4 Israel” on March 23 to paint positive images in the school’s central square. The artists created several pieces, including a canvas with “Peace for Israel” on the York logo, and another depicting York’s mascot, a lion, with the words “peace, unity and love” on it.

Although York was recently the scene of controversy surrounding an anti-Israel mural on the wall of the student center that many deemed antisemitic, the current installation was not meant as a response, Artists 4 Israel executive director Craig Dershowitz told The Algemeiner, saying the group had been working “with the amazing team at York to host an event way before the mural controversy.”

Dershowitz nevertheless drew a comparison between his group’s their work with the one in question. “Ours discussed peace, dialogue, art and joy,” he said, “and was not part of the propaganda, hate and divisiveness which seemed to be associated with theirs.”

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“It was a commendable effort,” Avi Benlolo, head of the Canadian Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (CFSWC), one of the co-sponsors of the event, commented to The Algemeiner. “I applaud the students’ creativity and insistence on making a statement through art.”

Still, Benlolo cautioned, “Their efforts cannot compensate for the toxic environment created by the hatred and hostility of those on the other side who shut down communication and reject all attempts to find common ground.”

CFSWC has been vocal in its opposition to York’s Faculty Union’s recent endorsement of a divestment campaign against Israel, to the point of warning Jewish students not to attend the university, as reported by The Algemeiner.

Ariella Daniels, president of Hasbara at York, told The Canadian Jewish News that, “The idea [for our event] was that people would walk by and see these graffiti artists in action and … hopefully start a conversation with [our] students.”

Hasbara at York uploaded pictures of the event on its Facebook page. In the photos, people can be seen reading the literature distributed and affixing their signatures to one of the canvases.

Artists 4 Israel, according to its website, is an artists’ rights organization that advocates “for Israel and its freedoms.” Last month, it installed a 12-foot inflatable Pinocchio at a pro-Israel demonstration at Columbia University (as was reported by The Algemeiner).

Other sponsors of the York event included StandWithUs Canada, Hasbara Fellowships Canada, Masa Canada and Size Doesn’t Matter.

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