Category: Art of War

Guantánamo Gulag 10th Anniversary

January 11, 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The prison was authorized by former president George W. Bush as part of his “war on terror”. In 2005 Amnesty International called Guantánamo the “Gulag of our time“.

Bagram - Vallen. Oil on masonite. 2009. 17.5 x 24 inches.

"Bagram" - Mark Vallen. Oil on masonite. 2009. 17.5 x 24 inches.

While running for the presidency, Senator Obama said during a CNN televised debate broadcast on 6-03-07; “Our legitimacy is reduced when we’ve got a Guantánamo that is open, when we suspend Habeas Corpus, those kind of things erode our moral claims that we are acting on behalf of broader universal principals, and that’s one of the reasons those kinds of issues are so important.”

In an interview conducted by 60 Minutes and broadcast on 11-16-08, President Obama proclaimed; “I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantánamo and I will follow through on that, I’ve said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture and I’m going to make sure that we don’t torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world.”

Kinetic Military Action Against Libya’s Archeological Sites?

Reports circulated on June 15, 2011 that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would not rule out bombing ancient Roman ruins in Libya if it knew Muammar Gaddafi’s soldiers were hiding military equipment in them. For those who appreciate the importance of Libya’s Roman archeological sites, the most well preserved in all the Mediterranean, this is worrying news. The gravity of the situation is perhaps best summed up by an online TIME Magazine photo essay originally titled, “See Libya’s Roman Ruins Before Nato Bombs Them“, but apparently quickly changed by the magazine’s editors to the less provocative, “Libya’s Roman Ruins.”

The ancient Roman city of Leptis Magna, 81 miles from the Libyan capital of Tripoli, is identified as an important World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, has called on the warring parties to “respect the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict” and to “keep military operations away from cultural sites.” Ms. Bokova reminded NATO that of the ten countries involved in the NATO bombing of Libya, eight of them “are party to the Convention” - the United Kingdom is noticeably absent as a signatory nation.

Fighting between Libyan government soldiers and rebel forces has occurred near Leptis Magna, and the insurgents have accused Gaddafi of hiding military equipment, munitions, and troops among the ruins. Oddly, NATO has not verified rebel claims, a simple thing to do with aerial surveillance photography, instead NATO seems to have placed archeological sites in their crosshairs. An unnamed NATO official responded to the rebel allegations by saying “We will strike military vehicles, military forces, military equipment or military infrastructure that threaten Libyan civilians as necessary.”

Located on the Mediterranean coast, Leptis Magna was initially a Phoenician port city and trading center. It eventually grew to be part of the Roman Empire in 146 BC, but attained distinction when Septimius Severus became Emperor in 193 BC. Born in Leptis Magna, Severus developed his home city using all the power and resources available to him as Emperor of Rome, the result was the transformation of Leptis into one of the most important cities in all of Africa, it certainly turned out to be the most significant and beautiful of all Roman cities in Africa. You can get a glimpse of the magnificence of this ancient wonder by viewing this short video. No rational person would dare think of dropping bombs on Leptis Magna, for any possible reason, any more than they would consider dropping high explosives on Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza or India’s Taj Mahal - both of which are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Perhaps concerns that war will irrevocably damage or obliterate Libya’s ancient Roman ruins are overheated, after all, President Obama insists he is not conducting a “war” on Libya, just a “kinetic military action.” Accordingly, if Leptis Magna is reduced to nothing by NATO bombs, the history books may read that it was a consequence of an intermittent kinetic military action.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution states that Congress is solely responsible for declaring war, but Congress never authorized military action against Libya, and President Obama never asked Congress to do so. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon plunged the United States into a catastrophic land war in Vietnam without congressional authorization; each president escalated the conflict, despite the war’s staggering unpopularity and the absence of a formal declaration of war. The U.S. Congress responded by passing the War Powers Act in 1973. Largely thought of as a means to prevent future Vietnam-like wars, the act requires a president to obtain congressional approval for armed intervention within 60 days of a conflict being initiated, and if such approval is not obtained a president then has an additional 30 days to cease fighting.

On June 15 President Obama sent a 38-page report to Congress arguing that U.S. involvement in Libya falls short of “full-blown hostilities.” Mr. Obama insists he can go on attacking Libya without Congressional approval since what the U.S. military is doing there does “not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.” Mr. Obama contends that he is only “supporting” operations being carried out by NATO, and his actions are not in violation of the War Powers Act. These are simply weasel words from the president.

On June 9, 2011 the Financial Times obtained and published a U.S. Defense Department memo having to do with U.S. contributions to NATO’s “Operation Unified Protector” military operations against Libya. The document stated U.S. military action in Libya is costing approximately $2 million per day. The Financial Times article also revealed the U.S. as the largest single contributor to NATO military operations in Libya, having conducted “70 per cent of the reconnaissance missions, over 75 per cent of the refuelling flights and 27 per cent of all air sorties.” Moreover, “the U.S. has about 75 aircraft, including drones, involved in the operations and since the end of March has conducted about 2,600 aircraft sorties and about 600 combat sorties.” In his final address before retiring this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted the U.S. pays 75 percent of NATO defense spending. I would also add that U.S. Navy four-star admiral James G. Stavridis, is the Commander of NATO central command.

Mr. Obama’s kinetic military action in Libya certainly looks like a U.S. war to me.

In his report to Congress contending the U.S. is not at war with Libya, Mr. Obama conceded that the first two months of military operations against Libya have cost the Pentagon $716 million. By the end of September U.S. military operations will have cost the U.S. taxpayer at least $1.1 billion - at the “current scale of operations.” What the cost of military operations will continue to be after September is anyone’s guess, but I am reminded of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell quoting the so-called pottery barn rule when advising former President George W. Bush in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq - “You break it, you own it.

In all fairness, President Obama does have his supporters when it comes to flaunting the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Act. The former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Bush administration, John Yoo, author of the infamous memos that determined waterboarding was not torture but a legal form of interrogation, expressed praise for President Obama’s Libya war strategy. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece titled “Antiwar Senator, War-Powers President“, Mr. Yoo wrote:

“President Barack Obama has again flip-flopped on national security—and we can all be grateful. Having kept Guantanamo Bay open, resumed military commission trials for terrorists, and expanded the use of drones, the president has now ordered the U.S. military into action without Congress’s blessing. Imagine the uproar if President Bush had unilaterally launched air attacks against Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi. But since it’s Mr. Obama’s finger on the trigger, Democratic leaders in Congress have kept quiet—demonstrating that their opposition to presidential power during the Bush years was political, not principled.”

While it is uncertain whether or not President Obama is pleased to have Mr. Yoo’s backing, there is little doubt that he has disdain for the views of Dan Simpson, a former career U.S. diplomat. Simpson was the Ambassador to the Central African Republic (1990-92), Special Envoy to Somalia (1995-98), and Deputy Commandant of the United States Army War College (1993-1994). Now an associate editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he characterized Mr. Obama’s war on Libya in the following manner; “We as a people are acting in Libya like some maddened pit bull that just has to attack something. It is shameful.” Simpson went on to say:

“Mr. Obama is moving ahead even though he is in clear violation of the terms of the U.S. War Powers Act. So what is behind his adherence to a policy of pounding Libya? It is oil, to a degree. Even though Libya produces only 2 percent of the world’s oil, the companies that Libya nationalized after Mr. Gadhafi took power in 1969 were owned in part by British and American companies with long memories and a lot of lobbying clout in Washington due to their political contributions to parties and congressmen. France, the United Kingdom and the United States would just love to get their concessions back.”

On March 18, 2011, the day before ordering U.S. military forces to attack Gaddafi’s Libya, President Obama told a select group of 18 U.S. Congress members that the U.S. military action would last for “days not weeks.” Three months later the war grinds on. The president still persists in arguing that there is no need for Congressional approval of his war on Libya; the 90 day limit provided by the War Powers Act that terminates a war not authorized by Congress passed on June 17th; NATO forces are apparently ready to bomb Libya’s ancient Roman ruins, and the so-called “peace movement” seems little more than a relic from the Bush years.

I began writing these words after stumbling upon the aforementioned TIME Magazine photo essay. In truly Orwellian fashion, the essay title had already been changed before I finished this article. No doubt “See Libya’s Roman Ruins Before Nato Bombs Them“, was too honest a proclamation.

Libya: Release The Bats!

"Where there's a will there's a way - Francisco Goya. Etching. 1819-1823. The artist's comment on humanity's lunatic dreams of the impossible - to fly like bats!

"Where there's a will there's a way - Francisco Goya. Etching. 1819-1823. A comment on humanity's lunatic dreams of the impossible - to fly like bats!

March 19, 2011 marks the eight year anniversary of the U.S. war in Iraq. George W. Bush launched his “Operation Iraqi Freedom” on March 19, 2003, and Barack Obama launched his “Operation Odyssey Dawn” against Libya on March 19, 2011.

It is the third major war currently being conducted by the United States. One cannot forget the fourth - the robot drone war Obama is waging at present in Pakistan. Allegedly designed to assassinate Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants seeking refugee in the northwest of Pakistan, the drones have killed upwards of 2,138 individuals since Obama took office, the overwhelming majority of them innocent civilians. Iran also looms on the horizon as a possible target of U.S. military action. Forget the “dogs of war,” release the bats!

"The sleep of reason produces monsters." Francisco Goya. Etching. 1799. From the artist's Los Caprichos etching series. Release the bats!

"The sleep of reason produces monsters." Francisco Goya. Etching. 1799. From the artist's Los Caprichos etching series. Release the bats!

It what now seems like ancient history, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman warned on February 9, 2011, that pro-democracy protests should immediately end in Egypt, otherwise he anticipated “the dark bats of the night emerging to terrorize the people.

Suleiman was chief of Egypt’s much hated General Intelligence Service, the spy agency known for its use of torture and its connections to the C.I.A. when Hosni Mubarak appointed him Vice President in the hopes of appeasing the masses. The Obama administration approved.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton extolled Suleiman’s appointment as part of a “transition” to democracy. Suleiman’s dark bats of the night had indeed been set loose; when their dirty work was done an estimated 1,500 Egyptians had been murdered by state security forces and some 5,000 injured.

On Feb. 11 Mubarak stepped down and handed over power to the U.S. backed Egyptian military. With the people seemingly victorious the bats flew elsewhere, it has been reported that the skies of Libya are now filled with them.

Ostensibly a joint operation conducted by French, British, Canadian, and American military forces under the aegis of a UN Security Council resolution, Operation Odyssey Dawn is a military campaign purportedly aimed at preventing Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi from terrorizing Libya and “shooting his own people”. Gaddafi is certainly guilty of such crimes, but then so are a good number of the monarchs and potentates of the region - many of them staunch U.S. allies.

The opening salvo of the U.S. operation came in the form of at least 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles being fired from U.S. Navy ships at military targets inside Libya. The United States Navy fact file on the Tomahawk Cruise Missile states that each long-range missile had a cost of $569,000 in fiscal year 1999 dollars. That would make the cost of 112 missiles $63,728,000, but adjusting for inflation - the current cost of that first barrage of missiles fired by our Nobel Peace Laureate president actually comes to $84,655,340. It is but the first stage of what the Obama administration says will be a “multi-phase campaign” against Gaddafi’s Libya.

Conflict - Garri Bardin. 1983. Screen shot from the stop motion animation. For God and country! For freedom! For right and honor! Matchstick men have come to do battle!

Conflict - Garri Bardin. 1983. Screen shot from the stop motion animation. For God and country! For freedom! For right and honor! Matchstick men have come to do battle!

When contemplating the folly of this unbridled militarism and its unintended consequences, I remembered an ingenious stop motion animation created in 1983 by the Russian animator Garri Bardin. Titled Conflict (конфликт), the short film (seen here) made use of wooden matchstick men who comprise opposing armies.

A more poignant antimilitarist animation has yet to be made, and while Bardin’s Soviet-era film was created during the height of the Cold War, the film’s antiwar message has become universal and eternal. With Libya becoming America’s latest battlefield, and with Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plants melting down, Bardin’s Conflict could hardly be more pertinent. Mr. Bardin has since gone on to enjoy great success as an animator, founding the “Stayer” animation studio and producing several award winning films.

Before landing in Libya the aforementioned bats roosted in Bahrain, and along with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa they unleashed a lethal wave of repression against tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators. So far 11 have been killed since the beginning of the protests last month, and hundreds have been shot with everything from rubber bullets to live ammunition. Bahraini doctors believe the regime has used nerve gas to quell the dissidents. The King has declared martial law, banning all protests and public gatherings. Saudi Arabian and UAE soldiers have entered Bahrain to help crush the pro-democracy movement. Protest organizers have been rounded up and imprisoned. Amnesty International released a report condemning Bahraini security forces for using “live ammunition and extreme force against protesters.” While Mr. Obama has asserted Gaddafi has “lost legitimacy to lead” because of his “appalling violence against the Libyan people,” he has not made the same declaration against King Khalifa. Is there any mystery here? Gaddafi is to be overthrown because the West covets Libya’s oil fields, the largest in Africa; the Khalifa dynasty is to be supported as a bulwark against the Arab revolution, with Bahrain home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet naval port.

The bats have also been nesting in Yemen, where U.S. backed President Ali Abdullah Saleh is engaged in the brutal repression of a mass movement for democratic reform opposed to his 32-year reign. So far dozens of Yemenis have been killed by Saleh’s security forces, and thousands have been injured. The most shocking instance of government violence took place on March 18, 2011, when Saleh’s security forces shot down hundreds of demonstrators in the capital of Sanaa, killing at least 46; government snipers with high-powered rifles shot at protestors from rooftops. Yemeni doctors also believe the Saleh regime has used nerve gas against demonstrators. Surely President Saleh is guilty of “shooting his own people”, but as an ally in Washington’s “war on terror” he has been rewarded with $250 million in U.S. military aid this year.

Conflict - Garri Bardin. 1983. Screen shot. The aftermath of the war.

Conflict - Garri Bardin. 1983. Screen shot. The aftermath of the war.

And while pointing out the contradictions of U.S. foreign policy, could there be a more despicable cabal of undemocratic reactionaries than the Saudi Royal family? Yet in October 2010 the Obama administration struck a $60 billion arms deal with the Saudis, the largest arms deal in U.S. history.

Amongst other highly developed weapons systems the pact will supply the House of Saud with 84 sophisticated F-15 fighter jets, 70 Apache and 72 Black Hawk combat helicopters. And what exactly will be done with this “cutting edge” weaponry? It will be used against the people of Saudi Arabia, where all demonstrations have been banned and the pain of death awaits those who do not comply; some of the weaponry has been deployed to help quash the pro-democracy movement in neighboring Bahrain. So much for standing against tyrants who repress and brutalize their own people.

In his latest commentary on the Middle East, seasoned reporter Robert Fisk lets us in on the obvious concerning President Obama’s “Operation Odyssey Dawn”. He reminds us of an unforgettable comment made in 2003 by neoconservative Tom Friedman of the New York Times, who said of the U.S. war to remove Saddam Hussein from power, “When the latest dictator goes, who knows what kind of bats will come flying out of the box?” Now we know. After 8 years of war in Iraq 4,439 U.S. soldiers have been killed and some 32,992 wounded. Estimates for Iraqi civilian deaths range from 109,318 to over one million. The colony of bats in Libya now swarming in great black clouds are working on casualty figures for the new imperialist war in North Africa. Release the bats!

####

UPDATE:
The U.S. Constitution: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11. “Only Congress can declare war.”

In the build-up to the U.S. attack on Libya, the U.S. Congress did not conduct a single debate regarding the merits of sending American soldiers into battle in Libya, nor did the U.S. Congress declare war or otherwise authorize any military action against Libya. Amazingly enough, after commencing military strikes against that country, Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders informing them that attacks had been launched. One group of Congressional representatives stated publicly that they “raised objections to the constitutionality of the president’s actions.” They went on to say that the Obama administration “consulted the Arab League. They consulted the United Nations. They did not consult the United States Congress. They’re creating wreckage and they can’t obviate that by saying there are no boots on the ground… there aren’t boots on the ground; there are Tomahawks in the air.” Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, lashed out at Obama’s actions, calling them “an impeachable offense.” Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., called Obama’s action “an affront to our Constitution.

Readers of this web log know of my antipathy towards George W. Bush, but despite my aversion to the former president, he launched the 2003 war against Iraq after a Congressional debate (contrived and distorted as it was), and after the U.S. Senate passed the “Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq” (though the Senate had been given false information by the administration regarding Iraq’s ability to attack the U.S. with chemical or biological weapons). The threadbare resolution provided Bush with a “legal” basis for the invasion of Iraq, but Obama acted without even that.

In an interview conducted with Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe on December 20, 2007, presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama said the following regarding presidential war powers as defined in the U.S. Constitution. The relevant excerpt from that interview is as follows:

Question from Charlie Savage: “In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites - a situation that does not involve stopping an imminent threat?

Answer from Senator Obama: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Emily Henochowicz

Readers of this web log are no doubt aware that the Israeli military attacked a flotilla of six civilian ships in international waters on Monday, May 31, 2010. The ships were attempting to break the three-year long Israeli blockade on Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid to the 1.5 million people who live there. The Israeli commando raid took the lives of at least nine people and wounded dozens, sparking global calls for an independent investigation into the deadly operation and the lifting of the blockade. On June 3 the U.S. State Department confirmed that one of those killed was a 19-year-old American – shot four times in the head and once in the heart. In this article I would like to mention a part of the story that has received comparatively little attention.

On the evening of May 31, international TV channels showed people around the world protesting the Israeli attack on the “Freedom Flotilla.” A brief video clip of a West Bank protest depicted a chaotic scene of Palestinians running in the streets as tear gas canisters rained down upon them. The final seconds of the film showed a small cluster of people carrying a young woman, her hands covering her bleeding face as she screamed in perfect English, “My eye!” Who was the young woman? What had happened to her?

A Palestinian woman cries for help as she holds a cloth to the head wound suffered by Jewish American art student, Emily Henochowicz, who had just been shot in the face with a tear gas canister by an Israeli soldier. Associated Press photograph by Majdi Mohammed.

A Palestinian woman cries for help as she holds a cloth to the head wound suffered by Jewish American art student, Emily Henochowicz, who had just been shot in the face with a tear gas canister by an Israeli soldier. Associated Press photograph by Majdi Mohammed.

The young woman in the film was 21 year old Jewish American art student, Emily Henochowicz. Ms. Henochowicz is currently enrolled as an art student at Cooper Union in the East Village of Manhattan. She took part in the protest at the Qalandiya Checkpoint as a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). That group defines itself as a “Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent direct-action methods and principles.” ISM members come from the U.S., Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, England, Spain, and many other countries.

Hundreds of Palestinians took part in the Qalandiya Checkpoint demonstration, including a number of foreign nationals from the ISM. The Associated Press reported one witness saying that some Palestinian youths threw rocks at Israeli soldiers, but that Henochowicz and other ISM members were not involved in the violence – in actuality, according to the witness, they were standing at a distance from the melee.

Regardless, Israeli troops fired volleys of tear gas projectiles at the crowd of demonstrators. The ISM alleges Israeli troops fired tear gas projectiles “directly at the heads of Emily and another ISM activist.” On the ISM website, Sören Johanssen, the ISM volunteer that had been standing with Henochowicz, insisted the Israeli soldiers “clearly saw that we were internationals and it really looked as though they were trying to hit us. They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”

Ms. Henochowicz was carried from the scene by fellow protestors and members of the ISM, and rushed to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. On May 31 she underwent two surgeries. Her left eye, destroyed by the tear gas projectile, had to be removed. Surgeons inserted three metal plates into her head and face, as the bone surrounding her eye socket, cheekbone, and jawbone suffered severe fractures. Ms. Henochowicz is now recuperating in Hadassah Hospital.

The Tribe of Levi - Marc Chagall. 1960. Stained glass. One of twelve windows, each measuring 11 feet high by 8 feet wide. Located in the synagogue of Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem. Photograph - Creative Commons, Wikimedia.

"The Tribe of Levi" - Marc Chagall. 1960. Stained glass. One of twelve windows, each measuring 11 feet high by 8 feet wide. Located in the synagogue of Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem. Photograph - Creative Commons, Wikimedia.

When I read that the young artist was rushed to Hadassah Hospital, where the good Israeli doctors and staff did their best for her, I was dumbstruck by the irony of it all. Hadassah Hospital is where the 12 magnificent stained glass windows created by the famed Russian-born Jewish artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985) are housed.

Starting in 1960, Chagall began creating windows for the hospital’s synagogue, stained glass that would depict the twelve tribes of Israel. Chagall donated the windows to the hospital free of charge, and I would agree with those that say they are the artist’s greatest creation in the medium of stained glass.

On February 6, 1962, Chagall attended the dedication of the synagogue, where his windows were permanently installed. At that ceremony, the artist made the following statement: “This is my modest gift to the Jewish people who have always dreamt of biblical love, friendship and of peace among all peoples. This is my gift to that people which lived here thousands of years ago among the other Semitic people.” The heart breaks when contemplating the full meaning of those words, truths that also now include a young Jewish artist in a Hadassah Hospital bed, recovering from a terrible wound.

"Sheikh Jarrah" – Emily Henochowicz. Pen and ink, watercolor. May, 2010. The artist captioned her drawing with the following words, "Amongst the chaos of the military and settler’s attempts to squander our ability to paint a mural, a little girl sadly sits on the swing set." Sheikh Jarrah is an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem that is undergoing an official Israeli government policy of judaization. Palestinian families are forcibly evicted from their homes, which are then awarded to Jewish settlers. The Palestinians are of course resisting, and Israeli students have been protesting the evictions along with them. As recently as May 26, 2010, hundreds of Hebrew University students chanting "We won’t sit in class while rights are being trampled," marched from their Mount Scopus campus to rally in solidarity with Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. Henochowicz witnessed such a demonstration in early May, making it the theme of this drawing

"Sheikh Jarrah" – Emily Henochowicz. Pen and ink, watercolor. May, 2010. The artist captioned her drawing with the following words, "Amongst the chaos of the military and settler’s attempts to squander our ability to paint a mural, a little girl sadly sits on the swing set." Sheikh Jarrah is an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem that is undergoing an official Israeli government policy of judaization. Palestinian families are forcibly evicted from their homes, which are then awarded to Jewish settlers. The Palestinians are of course resisting, and Israeli students have been protesting the evictions along with them. As recently as May 26, 2010, hundreds of Hebrew University students chanting "We won’t sit in class while rights are being trampled," marched from their Mount Scopus campus to rally in solidarity with Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah.

I discovered the works of Marc Chagall when I was but a child, and he remains one of my favorite artists to this day. His delightful modernist prints and paintings were my very first introduction to Jewish life and culture, and his works no doubt have had that same affect on untold millions.

Chagall once said that it was an artist’s duty to keep “awake the sense of wonder in the world,” but he also warned that in life’s long vigil the artist must always be “striving against a continual tendency to sleep.” It appears many have fallen into the deep slumber the visionary Chagall cautioned against.

Some will no doubt call Emily Henochowicz naïve, but I believe that in her own youthful way, she was struggling against the “continual tendency to sleep.”

Looking at her past sketches, one can plainly see a young artist fascinated with humanity, and reaching to find a means of expressing the complex realities of our time. She was grappling with the human figure, form and color, just as all art students do, and was perhaps a bit too reliant on whimsy, but she obviously has the necessary spark one needs for the serious pursuit of art.

I pray that the thuggery displayed by some goon with a tear gas gun will not deprive us of Ms. Henochowicz’s artistic talents; that she will overcome what may now seem like an insurmountable obstacle, and help to bring some beauty into this troubled world – for it is sorely in need of that.

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Visit Emily Henochowicz’ web log and flickr gallery.
Click here for information about Sheikh Jarrah.
A video that shows the shooting of Emily Henochowicz can be found on the Lede news blog of the New York Times.