New York Graffiti Artists Take on Ariel Boycott

Street artists create murals in response to Israeli actors' refusal to perform in the West Bank city.

An international group of graffiti artists are in Ariel to break what they call "an artistic siege" against the approximately 18,000 residents, in the midst of the national debate over Ariel's new cultural center. "Graffiti writers are used to making art where people tell them not to," says Craig Dershowitz, executive director of the New York group, Artists 4 Israel, which organized the trip.

Artists 4 Israel - David Bachar
David Bachar

The group is creating murals across the West Bank city and giving free painting lessons to school children. On the trip, the artists also painted in Sderot, decorated a community center in Jerusalem and did murals at Intel's corporate clubhouse. After an American Thanksgiving dinner hosted for them by Ariel residents, the group will also visit Beit El and Shilo.

Artists also attempted yesterday to document and paint over hate messages on both sides of the wall in the areas of Bethlehem, but while working on the Palestinian side they were approached by Palestinian men who asked them to leave, according to the group. "Graffiti artists are called 'writers," says Dershowitz. "What we hope to do by organizing trips where American, European, Israeli and Arab artists can meet each other is to write a new story. In graffiti, we will write a better future for the whole region."