Staring Terrorism in the Face
"[Curse] Obama the crusader."
"I am going up to our lord, the Prophet Muhammad."
Nashat Melhem, Palestinian Muslim, Israeli Citizen
"We were very close when that happened [January attack in Tel Aviv]. We actually heard the gunfire in our apartment. Our daughter walked by right before it happened. It was pretty chilling to know it happened right where she was."
"People the very next day got back to living, actually living, not just acting that way. Sadly, it's the reality [deadly Palestinian Arab attacks on Israelis] of what's been going on here forever."
Tania Suares, 46, English tutor, Tel Aviv
"I'm trying to do something that depicts the environment we live in here. This is something you see happening around the world now [Islamist terrorist attacks]."
"People think you can deal with terrorism just by killing people [the perpetrators]. It doesn't work that way."
Ronny Douek, Israeli philanthropist, exhibit sponsor
Because everyone seems to want to be involved in one way or another, either by admiring and elevating in esteem those with the 'courage' to attack helpless civilians and thus gain the prestige attached to the act, to portray themselves as martyrs for the common cause, to have streets or squares or buildings named in their honour; to have their names emblazoned on an honour roll, to have a generous stipend apportioned to their families in recognition of their noble sacrifice.
Nashat Melham was one such man. Shooting up a pub, a cafe and a sushi restaurant, creating a tumult of fear and despair, killing the manager of the pub, Alon Bakal, and Simta and Shimon Ruimi. He wasn't quite done with his murder spree that day, later killing a cab driver he had hailed to escape the scene of the carnage he had left behind, and Amin Shaban, an Arab Israeli also died at his hands. No comfort whatever to their families was to be found in his own death in a shootout with authorities a week later.
His cellphone had an audio message that his action had the purpose of delivering a message "so the Jews understand who they've been involved with, those sons of bitches". Now, that mobile phone message can be heard, and the visage of the murderer seen reproduced on a huge outdoor screen as part of a guerrilla art exhibition in Tel Aviv. A horribly evocative-of-tragedy exhibit to elicit a visceral reaction from passersby as they view three videos projected onto a billboard.
The first of the videos shows the attacker, the second the response of security forces in the aftermath of his deadly attack, with the third showing the bar he had shot up -- only now it is being used for the purpose for which it was designed, to bring people together in a social atmosphere of spontaneously relaxed comfort and companionship.
The display is staged a few blocks down from Dizengoff Street where the atrocity occurred back on January 1. Its locale is Dizengoff Square, and the intention of the presentation is to show the depravity of the murderer, the ensuing chaos, despite which life continues. It is Mr. Douek's intention to make people think, to move the country toward preventing alienation by its Arab citizens, to avoid such separation and violence.
But he must realize, surely, that it takes two to prevent misunderstandings and resentment; equal efforts to succeed.