I would like to make a few points clear. My stance on life is that we are all equal. There is no difference between any of us. All of our features can be explained through science, and all of our motivations are linked to the same necessities. My hope is that we all find the equation for love in this world, rather than hate. To recognize a religion as the only way to live amongst God, is wrong. To divide people into groups, and then subject a certain group to emotional stress is wrong. Anti-semitism is a despicable act, but we need to be careful to understand what is anti-semitic versus what is anti-Israeli policy. The latter of which has caused emotional distress for Palestinian people for decades, with the support of many western governments. The fact that we have a painting depicting those emotions is not anti-semitic, but rather a strong statement for Israel to consider.
Why Would Paul Bronfman Pull Funding?
There was no need for the York University’s funding to be pulled by William F. White! That money would help students by funding equipment, workshops, and seminars. Even if this painting was offensive, the impact of pulling funding is detrimental to the future of film in Canada. Politics should never pit students against their own growth. We remember that from the early teacher strikes of the 90’s, when teachers and students were scorned for taking sides in the matter. The reality is, we do not find any evidence of anti-semitism in this painting. For Paul Bronfman to confuse Anti-Policy with Anti-Semitism is very dangerous, and will not help the need for a two-state solution in Israel.
Antisemitism (also spelled anti–Semitism ) is prejudice against, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as an ethnic, religious, or racial group. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is widely considered to be a form of racism.
This is a painting of hope to me. A painting that says, “all I have is this rock and I will peacefully stand here until you get to close.” Since 1967 homes have been destroyed and families have been destroyed. This story repeats; over and over again, with broken promise after broken promise. The settlements that are being created in the Golan Heights, West Bank, and East Jerusalem are illegal, and this painting depicts the plight of those families that are losing their land. Palestine has no voice, and the youth are sick of witnessing their land being stripped from their families. There is no death or violence depicted in this painting. Just truth about a man that has to watch his land be stripped and prepared for settlement.
Anti-Israeli Policy is Not Anti-Semetic
To not recognize the State of Palestine, is wrong. To consistently set plans for peace and then break them, is wrong. Removing families from their homes, and building into their territory, is wrong. All of these actions make it very hard for outsiders to agree with removing this painting. This painting is an important symbol of hope for Palestine. Does Paul Bronfman see that this painting is showing the hopelessness? For years we have heard of plans, like the Roadmap and Disengagement Plans, which were meant to recognize Palestine as a state, giving them control of their own lands. At one point, it seemed, we would one day have a solution, but now that is far from gone. Palestinian leaders are killed by Israel, we consistently see rocks versus bombs, where rocks are leveraged by Israel to destroy more homes. We always here state news saying statements like “Hamas is using schools as a means to launch attacks on Israel.” When was the last time you saw a country hide behind their own children? Palestinians are not savages. They just want a solution.
What Needs to Change?
People like Paul Bronfman need to wake up and recognize that Palestinians are people that deserve their own recognized leadership. The two-state solution is the only way for peace. The UN have officially recognized the State of Palestine, and so should he. Wouldn’t it be amazing to ask Paul a few questions about the success of Israel in the West Bank and East Jerusalem? After all, that is what this painting is depicting. It is despicable to think that after all of the agreements in the 90’s, we are still in this place of confusion for Jewish settlers and Palestinian citizens. The populations of East Jerusalem and the West Bank have nearly doubled in the last decade. The West Bank and Gaza Strip were to be recognized as one territory and Israel was supposed to begin the transfer of power to the Palestinian Authority over the course of 5 years. But here we are 20 years later, and the West Bank is a booming settlement zone for Israel. Again, it is not anti-semitic to say this wrong for Israel to do. Agreements were made, the land belongs to Palestine, and Israel should step away from those lands. If anything, Paul Bronfman should use this time to talk about how long term peace can happen.
What Does the Painting Mean?
Let’s tie all of this back to our beloved painting on the wall. It is clear that it represents a young man, resolute in his love for his land. I find it interesting to note that he is not in a throwing motion stance. He is merely standing there, with a rock behind his back, almost to say, I will protect my land if needed. The Rock VS Bulldozer symbolism is very deeply portrayed here, where there is no damage that this rock will do against the industrialized Bulldozer. No matter what, the settlement will be made, but the rock may never be thrown. This painting clearly symbolizes the following for me:
- Helplessness – The rock will do very little against guns and bombs
- Faceless – No face to the young man, just as Israel does not recognize Palestine
- Peace – There is no threat of harm, just a young man showing he will protect his land
My lens of the world is very simple. We are all in this together. We must love one another, and we must cease to think of our brand of life as the only way. To conquer is to find a difference in the beginning. Why not choose to exist as one people, with one common goal?
If Israel would show their dedication to the world by recognizing Palestine as its own State, we would be on our way to civility in the region, where love can prevail, and the need for these paintings would not be as desired.