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Jan-07-2011 18:33printcomments

An Open Letter to Belen Fernandez and the Salem News

Includes the response...

Palestinian side of the wall
Photos of the Palestinian side of the wall are less 'artful' but very real expressions. Photos by Dexter Phoenix

(TEL AVIV / SALEM) - Forward by News Editor Tim King: This interesting open letter was sent to as a response to an article written by our tongue-in-cheek but ever so smart writer Belén Fernandez (see: The Other Side of the Wall).

The letter from Artists 4 Israel is a somewhat sarcastic response to Belén's take on a mural project for Israeli kids. She isn't very comfortable, if I can speak for this writer, when Palestinian children are being murdered almost daily by Israeli Defence Forces and others want to paint pretty pictures. For every Israeli child who has been impacted by the occupation, there are a hundred or more Palestinian children worse off.

These Israeli artists can't seem to figure out that this wall they seek to decorate is the largest symbol of Israel's occupation and consequent; the wall, which is a tool of Israel's apartheid government, where different laws exist for Jews and non-Jews.

I just published the latest article from our writer Ken O'Keefe in Gaza, who relates the story of a family murdered during Israel's infamous 'Operation Cast Lead' that betrays truths about Israel that hasbara can never touch, because they are true.

Different roads also exist, and Lord knows you can't live in most of Israel if you aren't Jewish. If you are Arab it can be next to impossible.

This is the reality of Israel and it's perpetual state of 'victimhood' which is an excuse to terrorize a population that existed here long before the waves of Jewish refugees in the late 40's and early 50's.

This group misses the point; that Israel is the farthest thing from a beacon of freedom, if you aren't Jewish, in the world. It is a state built upon the very tenets of religious extremism and "Zionism is racism, pure and simple", as Mavi Marmara attack Survivor Kevin Neish told me this summer in Canada.

You can put lipstick on the pig, but damn if it isn't still a pig when you're done. Israel is no friend for Americans or anyone alive who values equality and world peace.

Palestinian people deserve as bright of a future as anyone; they aren't "terrorists" by by any definition of the actual word. Israel is a sponsor of state terrorism. I'm just saying...

And now... the unedited letter from the artists in Israel:


Dear Belen Fernandez,

It is an absolute pleasure that you consider Artists 4 Israel and me, personally, so important as to go pilfering through the work of legitimate reporters to find negative information to post about us. HERE

While we have been traveling the globe, using art to promote peace and understanding between Arab and Jewish youth, and trying to soothe some of the trauma of war caused by Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah murderers against innocent, Israeli children, you have been quite busy having coffee with terrorist groups and writing for a series of revolutionary periodicals that are far more inter-connected than they seem, supported by questionable, shadow sources and with far better names than editorial standards.

So, again, a great honor that you, a self-proclaimed “fantastic writer,” (it must be true – it is in your own bio) would find the time to scour the many articles about A4I to find some un-matched quotes and cobble them together in something slightly resembling a news story that really resembles an op-ed that really resembles a little girl’s diary entry. I guess Osama Bin Laden was unavailable for afternoon tea?

I apologize for the ad-hominem attacks against you in the above paragraphs. You see, unlike you, I don’t pretend to be a reporter so I am just aping you and apparently, as per your example, personal swipes count as fair reporting.

I am not a reporter. I am an advocate. I work for and on behalf of artists. I support Israel because Israel is the only country in the Middle East with freedoms and rights for all – the same freedoms and rights upon which art may be built. I support Israel because Israel supports the arts. I support Israel because when A4I brings artists, no matter what their race, gender or sexual preference, I can be sure their rights are protected. I support Israel because it is safer to be a Christian artist in Israel than in any area controlled by Arab dictators. It is actually safer to be an Arab artist in Israel than anywhere in Arab controlled areas.

You, on the other hand, are supposed to be a reporter. You are supposed to support facts and correct verifiable information. I do not define myself, as you wrongly insinuate, as a distant relative to Alan Dershowitz. Neither do I hide it. It is a fact. I could have just said relative but I chose to be as accurate as possible. Facts and accuracy –you should consider using them in your work.

Instead of facts and accuracy, you throw around weighty, inflammatory words like “illegal,” “apartheid” and “settlement.” My spine tingles with fear at these powerful words until I realize they lack any actual foundation in fact. While Artists 4 Israel focus on creating art and healing wounds, you focus on instigating and dividing. Perhaps that is the reason we champion an animal that has been rescued and healed and you mock it.

The fact is that the Security Fence you slander has been responsible for stopping over 90% of the terrorist murders of innocent Israelis – men, women and children. The fact is that the Security Fence you defame was built because the terrorists you dine with refuse to make peace with the democratic leaders of Israel. The fact is that the Security Fence you libel is a temporary solution against the murderous, terrorist overlords you support.

Posted on behalf of Craig Dershowitz


Editor's conclusion: Belén Fernandez isn't just a reporter with a large amount of published and well received material to her credit; published by CounterPunch, Narco News, Palestine Chronicle, Palestine Think Tank, Rebelión, Tlaxcala, The Electronic Intifada, Upside Down World, and, addition to, she is also the author of "Coffee With Hezbollah" which recounts her days with Amelia Opalinska in the Lebanon immediately after the "illegal" attacks from Israel that left so many civilians dead.

My suggestion to this group is that they stop working on behalf of artists and join the brave and heavily persecuted Israelis like Jon Pollack who have the ability to speak up for human beings and say what is taking place is not acceptable.

What we are dealing with is a mindset that views Arab people as lesser human beings. These are the artists of Israel, yet they can't see how ridiculous it is to comfort the children of the attackers and aggressors while the victim children continue to starve and suffer? I can say that in the US artists are free thinkers; they refuse to wear blinders, they don't support war overall, and they are never scared to confront the truth. These artists in Israel are working from a very small canvas and brush and entirely missing the big picture. Somebody needs to send these sensitive artists a big box of Kleenex.

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Artists 4 Israel January 8, 2011 9:33 pm (Pacific time)

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