Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Cyberangels Meet Israeli Foreign Minister in UAE

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was greeted on tarmac by Emirati Minister of State Ahmed Al Sayegh, tweeting his thanks in both Hebrew and Arabic for the ‘warm welcome.’ He is the first Israeli minister to visit the United Arab Emirates since The Abraham Accords were signed in Washington.

Yair Lapid is visiting the United Arab Emirates on June 29th and 30th as the guest of the Emirati Foreign Minister, Abdullah Bin Zayed. He is inaugurating the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of Israel in Dubai.

The UAE congratulated Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on forming of a new Israeli government by tweeting: “We look forward to working together to advance regional peace, strengthen tolerance and coexistence, and embark upon a new era of cooperation in technology, trade, and investment.”

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded: “The Israel-UAE relationship is of great importance, the fruits of which will be enjoyed not only by the citizens of the two countries, but by the entire Middle East.”

To celebrate this historic event as an American -Israeli artist, I launched “Cyberangels of Peace” on virtual flights from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Crossroads of Civilization Museum in Dubai. These digital age artworks expresses The Abraham Accords declaration of support for science and art that inspires humankind, maximizes human potential and brings nations closer together.

The two Rembrandt-inspired artworks illustrating this article, are based upon the biblical passage of angels going up from the Land of Israel on a ladder in Jacob’s dream and coming down throughout the world to herald a message of peace. The angels are shown flying from the Land of Israel via smartphone and social media on the cover of my book Through a Bible Lens. The book explores the biblical roots of the Abraham Accords in the language of digital culture.

My cyberangel flights from Israel to the Gulf coast was preceded by my sending a cyberangel on a flight around the globe via communication satellites on the anniversary of Rembrandt’s passing. On the morning of October 4th, it ascended from New York’s AT&T building, flew to Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam to Israel Museum in Jerusalem to University of the Arts in Tokyo to Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in the City of the Angels, returning to New York on the same afternoon.

When the cyberangel passed through Tokyo, it was already the morning of October 5th. Cyberangels cannot only fly around the globe, they can fly into tomorrow and back into yesterday.

It is symbolic that one of my cyberangel artworks is in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington where The Abraham Accords were signed. My artworks represent historic exemplars of computer-generated art that act to unite Abraham’s decedents. These cyberangel artworks are in the collections of thirty museums on five continents. They are documented in my blog Global Tribute to Rembrandt. 

The Bible tells of Abraham’s satisfaction at seeing his sons Ishmael and Isaac together in peace at his deathbed. Now, four thousand years later, we saw their heirs come together in brotherhood on the White House lawn.

The Abraham Accords corresponded with the “Year of Rembrandt” honoring the great master on the 350th anniversary of his death. Throughout the world in museums from Leiden where he was born, to Amsterdam where he established his art studio, to Oxford, Madrid, Ontario, New York, and Abu Dhabi.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi presented the exhibition Rembrandt, Vermeer & the Dutch Golden Age, masterpieces from The Leiden Collection founded by the American Thomas S. Kaplan who wrote, “More than any other painter’s legacy, we believe Rembrandt’s ability to touch the soul represents a uniquely fitting expression of this visionary Franco-Emirati project seeking to promote tolerance and the common civilization of mankind.”

I launched my first cyberangels of peace honoring the Abraham Accords to the Louvre Abu Dhabi from the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book, where the oldest Bible texts are housed. This cyberangel flight was followed by virtual flights from the Israel Museum to museums in Dubai, Sharjah, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, and to Egypt and Jordan, the first Arab states to have signed peace treaties with Israel.

Cyberangels of Peace are waiting on the runway ready to take virtual flights from Israel to the remaining sixteen member states of the Arab League. They are also waiting for the signing of the Cyrus Accords to fly from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to the Teheran Museum of Contemporary Art.

I live with my wife in Ra’anana, the same city north of Tel Aviv where Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett lives with his wife and children. Before partaking of the Sabbath eve meal, our families sing, “May your coming be for peace, Angels of Peace, angels of the Exalted One.” The song begins with the words shalom aleikhem (may peace be with you). Shalom aleikhem is the traditional Hebrew greeting when people meet. It is akin to the Arabic greeting salam aleikum.

About the Author
Mel Alexenberg is an artist, educator, writer, and blogger working at the interface between art, technology, Jewish thought, and living the Zionist miracle in Israel. He is the author of "Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media," "The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness," and "Dialogic Art in a Digital World: Judaism and Contemporary Art" in Hebrew. He was professor at Columbia, Bar-Ilan and Ariel universities and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His artworks are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide. He lives in Ra’anana, Israel, with his wife artist Miriam Benjamin.
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