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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Twin Towers’

Arab Media Run Out of Incitement, Rehash ‘Israel-9/11’ Libel

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The “PalPress.com” website in Britain and the “Moheet” site, whose editorial offices are in Egypt, apparently are running out of anti-Zionist incitement. They headlined for their readers this week the old libel that Israel engineered the 9/11 disaster.

The latest rehash of the oft-repeated slanders could be dismissed as ridiculous, but the constant repetition of lies has a cumulative effect of turning the young Arab generation into firm believers that the “Zionists” really were the culprits of the worst-ever terrorist attack in the West, if not the entire world.

If enlightened pro-Arab thinkers in the West need any more evidence of the lack of veracity of anti-Israel propaganda, both websites published the same “study” that provides the proof: “Netanyahu – who was prime minister of Israel – is the architect of the September 11, 2001, through his managing the Mossad and Shin Bet.”

For good measure, they added that the “Prime Minister” has “a long history involvement in criminal acts and the Likud Party to which he belongs is the successor of a terrorist organization, which published a book in the 1980s “Terrorism: How the West Can Win.”

In case anyone has forgotten, Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister in 2001, but the Arab websites could easily dismiss this fact by claiming that Sharon was Netanyahu’s puppet.

The Moheet site’s editorial offices are in Cairo. The site was founded in 1997 and is based in Dubai with editorial offices in Cairo.

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Diyar was cited by PalPress for an “expose” based on “new evidence that has not been published before,” although the allegations are not new.

The Elders of Zion blog, which reported the latest Arab media incitement, notes, “So what does it say about the Arab media that they prioritize yet another anti-semitic theory on their front pages?”

In case anyone does not know the details of the conspiracy theory, Iran’s government-controlled Press TV provided the details last August, telling its readers that Czech-born Jew “Frank Lowy and his co-partner Larry Silverstein had rented the whole World Trade Center (WTC) for 99 years just a few weeks before the 9/11 attacks.

“Silverstein and the Westfield company pocketed about $5.4 billion from the attacks.”

Two other Jews supposedly behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks are New York Port Authority Louis Eisenberg, “a personal Jewish criminal,” according to PalPress and Moheet, and cosmetics tycoon Ron Lauder.

The libel also invents a “documentary study” that the Mossad blew up the Twin Towers. The theories draw a line, impossible to follow,  which connect Jews with being former clients of the Shin Bet, or former IDF soldiers, or Likud party officials. They, obviously, are linked with the corruption charges against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Arab readers also again are told that Israeli citizens received advance warnings of the attacks and that only five Israelis were killed in the two aerial attacks on the Twin Towers.

The libel, repeated for years, rambles on and on but is based on a “study,” which is all it takes to convince insulated and less-than-brilliant Arabs that it must be true.

Towers of Twilight: Reflections on the Attacks of September 11th

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

In the first few years it seemed as if they were still there, stark lines rising into the sky, tall shadows falling on the streets, a missing space that your eyes filled in without even thinking. You walked past, and your eyes said, “Of course they’re there. They’re always there” and for a moment you saw them as they were, grey ghosts of steel rising above the rubble. You saw the city as it was and then you remembered that city is gone.

Manhattan, that far down, is a lonely place. It is not a human place, but a huddle of buildings where men and women commute to and from, its stores are there for office workers to shop at, its sidewalks go dark when the trains head out to New Jersey again turning it dangerously low rent. That is what made the pretense of a Ground Zero Mosque, in a neighborhood where you can hardly find enough Muslim residents to start a game of Buzkashi, so nakedly dishonest.

But the site has always attracted its share of exploiters. On a good day you can see South American and African vendors peddling commemorative patriotic knickknacks and on a bad day the Truthers show up howling their contempt for the site. Tourists stop by and pose for snapshots with their families. Office workers walk by without thinking. The site, like the towers, is just something that’s there. And lately even the vendors and Truthers hardly bother showing up anymore. Like so many others, they have already moved on to exploiting the next tragedy and the next outpouring of grief.

The neighborhood had grown less grim over time. The 99-cent stores and shops selling used clothing have given way to cafes and chain stores. The months during which the entire area was closed down, in part or in whole, took its toll on local businesses, but over time they bounced back. And so has the city.

Tonight and the night before as the towers of light cast blue beams across the sky, we remember but memory is a destructive medium. Each year the memories grow fainter. At lunch counters people ask each other where they were that day and exchange stories. But the stories grow fainter each year and the memories of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge or stumbling through the ash or handing out sandwiches to rescue workers have grown dimmer too.

This was the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. How many people are still moved by that date, how many less so than were in 1822 or 1862? The anniversaries that we hold on to are the ones that mean something to us. And what does September 11 mean to us? What did it mean to us eleven years ago and what does it mean to us now?

The fundamental narrative of war is, “We were attacked and we fought back.” It’s the same story for everyone regardless of how true it may be. But it is mostly true in this case. We were attacked and we tried to fight back. But we weren’t attacked on September 11. We were attacked long before then. That was just the date when one of the attacks got out undivided attention and the enemy elevated itself above a petty nuisance.

To walk through the darkness toward the towers of light is to pass through a city of shadows. In a stray glimmer of light reflecting from a storefront or a puddle you can still see the old MISSING posters and see khaki trucks tearing apart the street asphalt. You can still see glimpses of a city that was still reeling from the incomprehensibility of what had happened to it. It isn’t reeling anymore, instead the incomprehensibility has become routine.

New York City is used to tragedy. Terrible things happen here all the time. The oldest photos of the city show the same stunned faces, the legs lying in a puddle of blood, the gawking children and the police frowning at something we cannot see. And relentlessly the blood is washed away, the tears are dried and the city moves on. September 11 left behind more blood, more broken legs and more frowning police than ever before… but the ashes have still been dumped in a landfill, the tears dried and the city moved on.

Painting Trauma And Relief: Hopeful Holocaust Paintings

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Rays of Hope: An exhibit by Rebecca Schweiger


July 10-September 17, 2006


Holocaust Museum and Study Center, Spring Valley, N.Y.


(845) 356-2700



 

 

        For American artists, the attacks on the Twin Towers are a particularly difficult subject matter. One feels a responsibility to capture the events of 9/11 (they are too important to ignore), but there is a lot at stake in painting the burning towers. If the depiction fails, it runs the risk of trivializing the tragedy. Painting, like any other language, ought to be able to communicate any idea if it is used correctly. But trauma is often the toughest thing to capture, whether in words, paint or music.

 

         Art Spiegelman’s ambitious graphic novel, “In the Shadow of No Towers” (reviewed in these pages on November 17, 2004), presents the artist’s response to 9/11. Spiegelman sees trauma as inspiring – “disaster is my muse!”- but he worries that he draws too slowly to keep up with the news. “I’d feel like such a jerk if a new disaster strikes while I’m still chipping away at the last one,” he says. On one page, he draws “some guy on Canal Street” who is painting the towers; but when he looks up, “the… model had moved.”

 

        Spiegelman is not the only artist obsessed with 9/11. In just the last few months, Paul Greengrass’ “United 93″ (2006) and Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center” (2006) have explored the attacks in movie form. But Rebecca Schweiger’s oil painting “September 11″ is a different sort of memorial. In “September 11,” Schweiger uses a palette of red, white and black, in a mixture of drips and textures that evoke spider webs. The painting appears to bleed and explode at once, and the only stable parts of the towers are the tops, which resemble a thick black letter em.

 

         But Schweiger’s piece is not as simple as blood and explosions. Schweiger, whose work is currently on display in Spring Valley, N.Y., also evokes hope and relief in her work. She has some regular aesthetic haunts to which she keeps returning again and again: desert, mercy, repentance, names, “essence,” souls, dark and light, and creation.

 



“Angels and Butterflies.”  Photocourtesy of Rebecca Schweiger


 

         According to the artist’s statement on Schweiger’s website, her work addresses a range of subject matters no less ambitious than “faith, passion, intensity, soul, desire, sadness, elation, energy, freedom, rage spirit, learning, growth, anxiety, celebration, illness, healing, survival, death, love, memory, longing, light and ultimately personal growth and hope.” It would seem that the artist’s work must be taken not as depicting one emotion, but an entire range of emotions – even, often contradictory emotions.

 

         Ani Mitgagat” (I am longing) is an oil and sand painting on canvas, which uses a palette of red, white and black forms, evocative of spiderwebs like “September 11.” The painting is dark (blood red and dark black) about the extremities, but light in the middle, almost like a flashlight cutting through the darkness. Longing implies both hope (that the object of the longing is attainable) and sadness, as the person longing has yet to attain the desired object. Although there is no text in Schweiger’s painting, the Ezekiel (16:6) quote, “in your blood shall you live” could be appended to it.

 



Hand of G-d.” Photocourtesy of Rebecca Schweiger


 

         Many of Schweiger’s works explore optimism in the manner of “Ani Mitgagat.” Painting titles range from “Rebirth” (a mixed media painting that resembles a large egg) to “Waves of Life and Everlasting Light” to “Infinity: Heaven and Water,” (a water scene in blues, yellows, pinks, greens and reds). But though Schweiger’s happy paintings are pretty in palette and would make good living room decorating material, they are ultimately far less interesting than her work that delves into pain and tragedy.

 

         Har Sinai” in many ways resembles the 9/11 painting. The mountain seems to explode (parts of Sinai look metallic, like a skyscraper), evoking the Midrash that G-d held the mountain over the Jewish people, threatening them that the desert would be their tomb if they did not accept the Torah. Though beautiful, Sinai was a threatening space; anyone or any animal who tried to climb it would be stoned or “shot”. Schweiger captures that fear and danger embedded within the beauty, and her palette is more expansive than in “Mitgagat” or “September 11,” using not only black, red and white, but also pink and yellow.

 

         “Sbarros 2001″ is a similar venture into the domain of terrible beauty. In August 2001, a suicide bomber murdered tens of people at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. Schweiger’s memorial to those victims incorporates red, black and white swirls, with white forms dripping off the canvas. The canvas almost looks like a slice of pizza, but the dripping whites and the burnt black forms suggest something is deeply amiss. In the top right corner, Hebrew words (that appear to be names) intermingle with the dripping forms.

 



“Separation.”  Photo – courtesy of Rebecca Schweiger


 


 

         A key to unraveling the paintings’ mysterious ability to memorialize tragedy in beautiful ways is Schweiger’s almost kabbalistic conception of shedding layers. “Shedding Layers” features two terrains. On the top is a mountainous region (which looks like a blue cheerleader’s pompon). Underneath the blue, raw canvas emerges – which Schweiger has stained yellow and scrawled upon in blue letters. The upper region literally looks like it is being unzipped or peeled back to reveal its innards.

 

         This mapping of layers becomes a palliative technique in “Shedding Layers Healing Wings.” In this painting, a large red, yellow, pink and blue bird seems to dissolve in the wind, as it stands atop a violent-looking jumble of chaotic colors, shaped like barbed wire: deep blues and reds, ochres, whites and blacks.

 

         In the third painting of the series, the bird has disappeared altogether, leaving simple forms in its place. “Shedding Layers: To Live Again” is a very colorful painting (light green is introduced to the black, blue, red, white mass), which suggests rebirth after the outermost layers are removed. Like the mythical phoenix, which was said to burn to ashes, and then reemerge from the destruction, Schweiger’s bird disintegrates into color and form, only to reemerge alive.

 



“To Be Free.”  Photo – courtesy of Rebecca Schweiger


 

         The phoenix model might be the best way to respond to capturing tragedy in art. It is a tremendous irony of life that even after both the September 11 attacks and the Sbarro bombing, the sun rises the next morning and the birds sing. To capture the enormity of the tragedy, and yet to reveal the hope and rebirth embedded within, Schweiger uses an almost schizophrenic palette (black, blood-red, deep blue on the one hand, and pink, yellow and grass-green on the other) to show the beauty that lies beneath, if we can only shed our outermost layers.

 

         For more information about Rebecca Schweiger and her art, please see www.rebeccarts.com.

 

        Menachem Wecker is a painter and assistant editor of B’nai B’rith Magazine in Washington, D.C. He welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com


 

The Passion Of Leah Ashkenazy

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

“There is just something about that little girl that I can’t get out of my mind. How does she face those fire-breathing beasts?” Four-and-a-half years ago (September 7, 2001) I wrote about Leah Ashkenazy’s painting, “The End of Childhood” as a “complex commentary on the Shoah and how it affected the children who lived through it.” That review came out the week before the Twin Towers were attacked on September 11th. As a survivor of the Holocaust and now a witness to 9/11, Ashkenazy finds herself caught between two epochal events that changed our world. Nonetheless, her artistic vision is uncomfortable with these simple parameters. Rather, she is inexorably drawn to the many other tragedies that have blossomed between the war against the Jews and the war against the West. Her passionate nature finds the violent death of any child, the needless suffocation of any life, the fruits of any terror equally inimical to G-d’s image, in which we are all created. Her passion is not limited.


Ashkenazy’s images evoke highly-symbolic forms, a whole universe of that which continually stands for something lurking behind, always another meaning about to be born. “Remember and Rebuild, WTC” pictures a young couple; she with her matching blue shoes and handbag, he with a stylish shirt and sports jacket. They might be co-workers, husband and wife or just friends. They are encapsulated in a fiery shape surrounded by fallen trees and scattered branches. Above them the shattered pieces of a building, terrified little faces looking out, hover in a clear blue sky. That was the sky that morning, blue, clear and filled with death. A fallen woman in blue, covers her face as she cries, mourning the tragedy above. Ashkenazy asks us, “What was their sin? They went to work.”


The artist insists that the tragedy of injustice, terror and destruction happens far too often, all over. She paints images of the terrorist carnage in Bali, the devastation of the Tsunami and the attacks on 7/7 in London. The universal nature of tragedy strikes her as inescapable; it seems we all might someday become victims. Indeed a portrait of a woman that she titles “Crazy Mona Lisa,” after the classically mysterious Renaissance beauty by Leonardo Da Vinci, haunts us with a woman seated amidst blue flames and a nervous background, her modestly-covered head wrenched upside down. These paintings are from a world gone mad – a world all too familiar.


A Glimpse from Heaven” moves her work closest to a Magritte-like surrealism. A three-sided structure is pictured within the walls of a grey-bricked enclosure. Inside a dome sits as a tomb-like shape reminiscent of the Kever Rochel or, paradoxically, the dome of the Young Israel of Boro Park only a few blocks from her home. Outside this enclosure, a yellow tree shakes off its leaves in a funny shower of springtime blessing. Observing the whole scene, a little face peers down from the sky, perhaps the artist herself observing the constant clash between rebirth and the inevitability of the grave.


Remember and Rebuild: The Six Million” secures a ghastly link between the Twin Towers and the infamous smokestacks of death. Six tall structures, etched with long vertical lines reminiscent of the World Trade Center’s facades, stand in a distant orange field. Tiny faces mingle with smoke and fire erupting from the tops of the towers as the entire scene is observed by a mysterious man in light blue flanked by six children. The children are traditionally dressed, the young boys in caps, the girls in long frocks, all harkening back to the styles of Eastern Europe in the years between the wars. It is an unsettling image leading to question after question. Who are these children? If they are ghosts of lives lost in the Holocaust, pondering how little has changed, is the man then a parent who couldn’t protect them, a parent who is still determined to rebuild after the carnage?


Finally Ashkenazy depicts a troubling image of Jewish history, “Ghetto.” Tiny figures in a foreground of an enormous playing field are dwarfed by a sienna red structure, girders rising up in a fantastic superstructure that encloses the field and shuts out the city beyond. The city is vibrant with color – pinks, purples and pastels dominate. But the structure is simultaneously a border and a window into the world beyond. One wonders which is kept in and which is kept out. Is it us versus them, or can we live in one whole world harmoniously, albeit with a structure of borders to remind us of our differences?


Leah Ashkneazy’s paintings are never simple depictions. They always embed meaning within the pleasure of making and looking at art. Since they operate in the realm of visual poetry, constantly shifting metaphors and allusions, my interpretations may be entirely different from those of other viewers, indeed at odds with the intentions of the artist herself. In this kind of work, that dichotomy is natural, even expected. But one thing is certain; she paints passionately and urgently. Her subjects embrace mankind, violence, tragedy and the love we all experience. Her passion is as unlimited as the very air we breathe.


Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com





For further information contact: Leah Ashkenazy; 718 851 8660.


 


 



Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/the-passion-of-leah-ashkenazy/2006/02/22/

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