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Zionist art gets a new platform

By Rachel Marder/

Joshua Stulman grew up reading a little
known comic book series about the adventures of Jewish super hero “Shaloman,”
created by Al Wiesner. Shaloman takes on bigotry and Holocaust denial, uncovers
terrorist plots to destroy Israel, and even rescues an Israeli and an Arab
child, helping them to overcome their differences.

Neta Dror, pictured, a Jerusalem-based
photographer and advisor for the Arthur Szyk Prize of Disruptive Thought and
Zionist Art project, says the prize is not an attempt at
hasbara (public diplomacy) for Israel, a charge she is sure will be made by
Israeli art critics. Credit: Menahem Kana.

Now, at 30, the New York City-based
Stulman has created his own comic book featuring Jewish superhero “Magen: The
Shield of Israel.” In the first 25-page issue, the ripped and smiling Magen,
wearing a blue and white body suit, joins forces with a heroic captured female IDF
soldier to escape a terror cell operating an arms smuggling factory in a maze
of underground tunnels.

Stulman submitted his comic book for
the Arthur Szyk Prize of Disruptive Thought and Zionist Art, sponsored by
Artists 4 Israel and the Jewish National Initiative (JNI), along with more than
100 artists who submitted a piece of work, from music to paintings to dance to
film, in hopes of winning the $1,000 prize.

A five-member jury of Israeli and
American writers, public relations specialists and arts experts, including
Elianna Bar-El, editor of Time Out Israel,
will select the winning piece—which “challenges the static conception of
Zionism with ideas that extend beyond the work of art itself”—in June.

Organizers say the mainstream slant on
art related to Israel, even in Israel, tends to be negative and anti-Zionist,
and the prize is meant to create a platform for those pro-Israel artists who
want to express a more nuanced, intimate relationship with the

Craig Dershowitz, executive director of
the New York-based Artists 4 Israel, says political art “is a difficult topic
to cover, and it’s always so much easier to make negative political art.”

Artists and filmmakers critical of Israel, in
fact, have become accustomed to receiving international accolades. At this
year’s Academy Awards, two films accused of anti-Israel bias by many pro-Israel
viewers, “5 Broken Cameras” and “The
Gatekeepers,” were nominated for Best Documentary. On May 25, Palestinian director
Hany Abu-Assad won the “Jury Prize” in the “A Certain Regard” category at the
Cannes Film Festival for his film, “Omar,” a Palestinian love story that
presents Israeli security forces negatively, as they brutally torture the

In the world of fine art, Dror Feiler, a composer
and musician born in Israel, and his Swedish wife, artist Gunilla Sköld-Feiler,
received attention for their 2004 controversial installation, “Snow White and
The Madness of Truth.” The piece featured a bathtub of water colored red, upon
which floated a small white boat named “Snow White” carrying a portrait of Hanadi
Jaradat, a Palestinian suicide bomber. The artists said they wanted to call
attention “to how weak people left alone can be capable of horrible things.”

But Daniel Fink, JNI’s
co-director, says the Arthur Szyk
Prize is “not about countering arguments.”

Joshua Stulman, pictured, submitted his comic book for
the Arthur Szyk Prize of Disruptive Thought and Zionist Art, sponsored by
Artists 4 Israel …read more

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Posted by on June 4, 2013. Filed under Jewish News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.