Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Power of Art in Islam and Paris

Double its size as future Holocaust memorial
Double its size as future Holocaust memorial

I felt the Islamist jihadist’s vicious murder of artists and Jews in Paris as a personal attack on me.  I am both an artist and a Jew.

I have explored the power of art in both Islamic and European cultures through my work as an artist and as art professor at Columbia University and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies.

The massacre of the Charlie Hebdo artists for creating cartoon images were viewed as being so offensive in the Islamic worldview that murder was demanded.  The slaughter of Jews in the kosher supermarket demonstrates the menacing interaction between the centuries of deep-seated European anti-Semitism and the Islamic world’s desperate desire to destroy Israel and kill Jews everywhere.

Historian of Islamic art, Elisabeth Siddiqui, writes in the Arabic journal Al-Madrashah Al-Ula that art is the mirror of a culture and its worldview.  She emphasizes that there is no case to which this statement more directly applies than to the art of the Islamic world.  The power of art in Islam cannot be overestimated.

The power of art to attack both freedom of expression and the Jewish people is also found in European culture.  Hitler’s first cultural act in attaining power was to mount the “Degenerate Art” exhibition to spew his hatred for the emerging modern art movements.  He called it “Jewish Art” although there were few Jewish artists represented in the exhibition.  His way of getting rid of the art and the people he despised was to murder the artists and Jews.

Paris is the city where one of the 20th century’s most powerful works of European art was created.  Pablo Picasso made his monumental painting Guernica to cry out against totalitarian barbarism.  When European leaders acquiesced to Hitler’s raining bombs on the Spanish village of Guernica, it gave him the license to proceed with preparing for WW II and exterminating the Jews of Europe on his way to global conquest. Today, France supports the Arab world’s efforts to annihilate Israel as a prelude to destroying the democratic way of life everywhere.

One week after the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket massacres in Paris, the foreign ministers of the Arab League called an emergency meeting in Cairo to reiterate their “absolute” opposition to recognize Israel as a Jewish State.  The Arabs are adding political action to their violent efforts to destroy Israel by war and terrorism for more than sixty years.

France is a partner of the Arabs in preparing the groundwork for a second Holocaust to exterminate the 6,000,000 Jews now living in Israel.  Its gathering of world leaders with a million Frenchmen to march in Paris against terrorism avoids identifying its Islamist source.

France voted in the UN Security Council for establishing a Palestinian state while the French parliament voted to recognize a nonexistent Palestinian state, another Arab terrorist state in the Middle East with genocidal intentions.  As a founding member of the Court of Justice of the EU, France supports taking Hamas off the EU’s terrorist list while demanding that the Geneva Convention investigate Israel for the crime of defending itself against thousands of Hamas rockets raining down on its towns and cities.  France chooses to ignore Hamas’ stated genocidal aims that echo the centuries-old anti-Semitism that has drenched Europe’s soil with Jewish blood.

France is showering its wrath on the Jews living in Israel because Israel responded to Hamas’ directing deadly rockets at their civilian populations, building attack tunnels into Israel’s villages for committing mass murder, kidnapping and executing children in cold-blood, and hacking worshipers to death with meat cleavers in a Jerusalem synagogue.  On his visit to Ramallah, French President Francois Hollande laid a wreath at the grave of the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat.

More than eight years ago, I created the “Future Holocaust Memorials” blog, an artwork in the tradition of Picasso’s Guernica. This work of blogart was honored by Rhizome ArtBase at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York as an exemplary work of digital art.

I designed it as a wake-up call to the menacing Iranian rush to build nuclear weapons to wipe Israel off the map.  My artwork is even more vital today as France, as part of the P5+1, continues to appease the Iranians who talk with a smile as their centrifuges continue to whirl at full speed.   The current European regression to the anti-Semitism of the pre-Nazi era rising up in the guise of anti-Israelism is just as ominous.

The same French who established a Nazi Vichy government that rounded up the French Jews for slaughter in the 1940’s subsequently built fifty Holocaust memorials in France to honor the 6,000,000 Jews that they participated in murdering. “Future Holocaust Memorials” is an artist’s offer to create new Holocaust memorials or upgrade old ones in advance of the annihilation of another 6,000,000 Jews who now live in Israel.  It seems that France loves dead Jews but loathes living ones.

France invited Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas who forged a unity government with Hamas to march in Paris in the VIP front line as millions reacted to the Islamist barbarism there.  It is as if the head of the Mafia was invited to sit at the dais at a policemen’s convention.

The Iranian-armed Hamas leaders, Abbas’ partners in terrorism, are honest.  They explicitly state their genocidal aims on their website for all to see.  Their charter states that their sole path is the violent destruction of Israel and killing of Jews worldwide:

“Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims…. Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them, until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him…. I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill.”

Fatah has been hoodwinking the Europeans in English to believing they seek peace while in Arabic they call for the obliteration of Israel and celebrate terrorist mass murders by naming squares, streets, and schools after them.  This month, Fatah celebrated its 50th anniversary by rejoicing in its first barbaric acts of violence against Jews.  50 years ago, Fatah terrorism against Jews in Israel was carried out when the West Bank was occupied by Jordan and Gaza by Egypt, not by Israel.

Speaking on Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV, Jibril Rajoub, Deputy Secretary General of Fatah’s Central Committee, said, “If the Palestinian Authority had advanced weapons, it would destroy Israel rather than negotiating.” When the TV host asked Rajoub if the PA intends to return to the negotiations game, Rajoub responded “Listen. We as yet don’t have a nuke, but I swear that if we had a nuke, we’d have used it this very morning.”

France has joined with Europe’s other modern-day Chamberlains chanting “peace in our time” while ignoring the union of the Gaza ruling Hamas with the West Bank ruling Fatah.  They formed a joint “technocratic government” headed by Rami Hamdallah, long-time president of An-Najah University in Nablus, the hotbed of hatred for Israel and the center for recruitment of terrorists.

European art critics ignore how An-Najah University students use contemporary art to glorify the mass murder of Jews.  At Hamdallah’s university, a grotesque art exhibition was mounted celebrating the slaughter by a Palestinian Arab suicide bomber of women, men, children, and entire families eating pizza in the heart of Jerusalem.  A group of An-Najah art students constructed a replica of the Sbarro Pizzeria, site of the massacre.

Visitors pushed to see realistically sculpted body parts and pizza slices strewn throughout an environment set for a performance artwork.  Wearing a terrorist’s military uniform and black mask, the performance artist entered the mock pizzeria under a sign “Kosher Sbarro” and set off a simulated explosion to the cheers of the crowd. Upon entering and leaving, the visitors enthusiastically wiped their feet on Israeli and American flags used as doormats.

Visitors then encountered a mannequin outfitted as a terrorist standing next to a large boulder. A recording placed behind the rock called out in Arabic: “O believer, there is a Jewish man behind me, come and kill him.” In another room, two students dressed as suicide bombers, each with the Koran in one hand a Kalashnikov assault rifle in the other hand, were reenacting the grisly last testaments in front of a video camera that suicide bombers create before carrying out their deadly attacks.

Mahmoud Abbas, who appointed Rami Hamdallah, assured the gullible Europeans and Americans that his new technocratic government is committed to the principles of nonviolence and negotiations.  Hamdallah, a PhD-holding head of a university where mass murder is celebrated, is a fitting choice for Abbas, who builds monuments honoring terrorists and wrote his PhD thesis denying the Holocaust.  Neither are mere technocrats.

I invite French artists to join me in designing future Holocaust memorials and upgrading existing ones to express their moral outrage.  Their designs can issue a worldwide call to action to confront the hatred, bigotry, racism, terrorism, genocide, and cults of death and destruction of militant Islamists. Today, the global reach of a networked world gives artists unprecedented power to express their moral outrage. This call to artists to design future Holocaust memorials attempts to reach out across our planet screaming “Never Again!”

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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