A new Facebook group has been formed to create new metaphors for peace between Israel and its neighbors. Jews, Muslims, and Christians worldwide are joining the AESTHETIC PEACE group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=7590742794 and following its accompanying blog http://aestheticpeace.blogspot.com to promote a fresh vision for peace in the Middle East.
The initiator of the Aesthetic Peace group, artist Mel Alexenberg, former professor at Columbia University and Bar Ilan University, and research fellow at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, proposes that perhaps art can succeed where politics has failed. He views the Arab conflict with Israel as an aesthetic problem that calls for an artistic solution. All political processes and road maps from Oslo to Annapolis are doomed to failure because the conflict is not political but rather aesthetic. Peace requires a fresh aesthetic metaphor.
A perceptual shift that can lead to a genuine peace can be derived from Islamic art and thought. In Islamic art, a uniform geometric pattern is purposely disrupted by the introduction of a counter-pattern that demonstrates that human creation is less than perfect. Rug weavers from Islamic lands intentionally weave a patch of dissimilar pattern to break the symmetry of their rugs to honor their belief that only Allah creates perfection.
Islamic art teaches Arabs to see their world as a continuous geometric pattern that extends across North Africa and the Middle East. They see Israel as a blemish that disrupts the pattern. Israel is viewed as an alien presence that the Arabs have continually tried to eliminate through war, terrorism, and political action. Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction to wipe Israel off the map while Hamas and Hezbollah rain thousands of rockets on Israel’s towns and cities.
Peace will come from a fresh metaphor in which the Arabs see Israel’s existence as Allah’s will. A shift in viewpoint where Israel is perceived as the necessary counter-pattern in the overall pattern of the Islamic world will usher in an era of peace. This aesthetic metaphor recognizes that the ingathering of the Jewish people into its historic homeland in the midst of the Islamic world is the fulfillment of Mohammed’s prophecy in the Koran (Sura 17:104): “And we said to the Children of Israel, ‘scatter and live all over the world…and when the end of the world is near we will gather you again into the Promised Land.”
The Arab world needs Israel to realize its own aesthetic values.