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Menashe Kadishman's flag of hope
Uri Lifshitz
Menashe Kadishman
Zoya Cherkassky
Yaacov Agam's fountain at Dizengoff square
The Flag: Next Generation
Doesn’t the Israeli Flag deserve an upgrade for the spirit of the times? Five leading Israeli artists design modern versions of the blue and white flag

Uri Lifshitz/ The Pixilated Flag

“A symbol is always a stubborn thing tied to memory, and I have no memory. I do not remember anything and only deal with what will be tomorrow, and not with what was yesterday. I am not connected to any symbol, not even the Magen

David (Jewish star) - maybe to the Magen David Adom (Israel's Red Cross).

What I have designed is not an alternative flag - it is what has actually been done to the flag. I am not a political person, I simply read newspapers. I deal with people who are sitting in jail and cover their faces when we already know everything about them- how they sold their mother, but they only care that we cannot identify them.

 


Uri Lifshitz's Pixilated Flag

 

My idea was based on the principle similar to lowering the resolution of a digital photo (removing details in resolution on the computer) in order to save memory. We ignore the details and this becomes the main task in our lives. The simple man does not deal with details. The main thing that guides me is A., the president’s accuser, when they lowered the resolution of her photo (blurring her face with pixels). This is what I did to the Magen David and Herzl. This is my suggestion: a flag without details, like the shadow of a person who is hiding his face in fear that he will be recognized, and does not care about the disappointment.

 

I have no complaints against the current flag. Everything that happened to our flag was expected. People may say that I am callous and may not like my way, but an average path will not get you anywhere- it is ordinary and mediocre. Only extremism makes waves.

 

Have I ever thought about leaving the country? I have seven children, ten grandchildren, almost twelve, I parachuted in Mitla (heroic operation of paratroopers unit during the Sinai Campaign of 1956), and I love my friends and could not live anywhere else. I am connected to people, to creators, and not to rules and bureaucracy. I do not like the corruption, which began during the time of Mapai and I hope ended during the reign of the Likud. All these people are profiting from my taxes. It is difficult, but we will get past it”.

 

Yaakov Agam/ The Menorah, Rainbow and Love Flag

“The symbol of the Magen David does not appear in the Bible. In its essence it is not a Jewish symbol. In addition, the Christians, in the middle Ages, are the ones who coerced the symbol on the Jews and we cannot forget how the Nazis forced them to wear the yellow stars in order to separate the Jews and humiliate them. The symbol of the Magen David is not unique to us, in Indian culture (Tantric), for example, it signifies sexual intercourse.

 


Yaakov Agam's Menorah, Rainbow and Love Flag

 

The symbol only began to represent Zionism after Herzl requested the adoption of an anthem and flag as quickly as possible. Herzl, who was working under pressure and time constraints, chose to place the Magen David in the center of two horizontal blue lines (a reference to the prayer shawl). I am not suggesting that Herzl was not endowed with aesthetic sensibilities; after all he did request that all the representatives who gathered for the Zionist Congress wear bowties and smoking jackets.

David Ben-Gurion is the one who adopted the Magen David flag as the national flag.

 

In my creation, “a menorah, rainbow and love flag” I am claiming that the menorah constitutes a fundamental Jewish symbol. The menorah is mentioned in the Bible and was even placed in the center of the Holy Temple. The menorah symbolizes spirituality, freedom and light. I added a rainbow to the menorah. The rainbow that appears in the sky symbolizes the covenant with Noah after the flood, the covenant between the Creator and all living things. The rainbow is a Biblical Jewish symbol that expresses the connection and the covenant between every man and his Creator, a symbol that in recent years has come to represent a universal essence, values accepted by the whole world. The rainbow in the cloud symbolizes hope for a better world. The colorfulness of the rainbow is understood by all and “speaks” clearer than words. Words, ever since the mixing of the languages, are limited to each language, while everybody accepts the colors of the rainbow. In my suggestion of an alternative flag, I placed in my flag a rainbow with live, glowing colors. When you turn the rainbow upside down you get a menorah: the Jewish symbol and essence. This combination creates a merging of the menorah, a symbol identified with the State of Israel, and the rainbow, which is accepted by all humanity as the symbol for lofty values. The flag can represent belief, faith and a promise of a serene and prosperous world. The menorah in its present design also symbolizes love. The combination of the warm colors represents femininity, and the cold, blue colors represents masculinity. The relation between these two poles guides the menorah - because there is no life without love.

 

This flag of Israel will be a symbol of unity and love, in contrast to the Magen David, which also symbolizes armor used in protection from an attack. The use of weapons as symbols is widespread in the world, but it is not always good. The Saudis, for example, placed a sword in the center of their flag.

Nonetheless, since the Magen David was the protective weapon of King David, and in order to preserve continuity, I integrated in my flag a Magen David, that is half blue and half white, and when all the Jews in the Diaspora immigrate to Israel it will be all blue. Unlike Egyptian culture, which was centered on death, Judaism is built on the value of life. The State of Israel and Judaism constitute my identity as an artist and a person. All my artistic creations are predicated on this identity".

 

Zoya Cherkassky/ The Interim Flag

“The problem with the current flag is that it was born Jewish and only appeals to Jews and this raises problems in relation to the Palestinians. There are other people in this country, and just as Arabic is a second language, I would expect that this would be reflected in the flag.

 


 Zoya Cherkassky's Interim Flag

 

I do not have political solutions and I do not think that I will be the one to change the flag. There is a crisis in the Zionist ideology and a political crisis in the Middle East. I also have no solutions for the current crisis, so I thought to create a flag that reflects the interim status of this crisis, until it is resolved. I created a modification of the Magen David with more sides and it looks like an explosion. It is a facelift and not exactly a change. It took me a long time to think of this. I had a lot of indecision and consultations and I began with something very happy, something more abstract, dots of all different colors, and then I did black and white, and then somehow this came out by itself. I am not relating to this seriously, but with a sense of humor. I am an optimistic person and prefer to think that everything will be all right; otherwise it would be a catastrophe.

 

Is there a reason to be happy on Israel Independence day? There is definitely a reason to party, it is a dream that has been realized and there is something that is inspiring- even though the state, like all states, is dependent on other countries. When I was in Russia and Germany, I was enchanted by the idea of a country where they could not call me names. I will celebrate the holiday in Germany, because I was accepted to a program there. What I love is that in Israel you can solve any problem on a human level, not as in Germany, where you arrive at an office and there are ranks and you cannot approach anyone. It was only when I arrived in Germany that I understood what it meant to be restricted in your rights, and now I know what it means to be a Palestinian in Israel, where their status is hanging in the air”.

 

Menashe Kadishman/ The Flag of Hope

“I am attached to the current flag because I grew up with it and I wanted to add the Ten Commandments, because they transmit what we are not doing and what we apparently can not- do not murder and do not steal. All in all I think we should leave the flag alone because it already symbolizes us; it is us, as a matter of fact.

 


Menashe Kadishman's flag of hope

 

In the meantime, times have changed and I do not know life without war- not that I am such a hero- so I placed on the left side of the flag a crescent because that is my hope, that we will live in a peaceful region, in unity and peace. Even if I cannot remember life without war, I can still dream.

 

I deliberated over what to put in the middle of the star. A flag has to be a symbol and should transmit optimism, and doves are a symbol of peace, love and hope. I probably chose yellow for the doves because of Holocaust Remembrance Day and the yellow star. If we point out the bad, maybe good will come of it.

 

I pondered a lot what the flag stood for- sacrifice or birth. In any case you cannot put a mother on the flag, and I decided to transmit optimism, because I know that art cannot change situations, only politics can. Am I optimistic? I am always optimistic, but sad.

 

What do I love in Israel? I love everything- the sea, the people, the food, the intensity of life here. But I also hate many things.

 

Israel Independence Day, in any case, is a sad day because we lost many children in this nation, and maybe it will be easier to caress the pain than to scratch it”.

 

Rafi Lavi/ The Flag of Money and Violence

“When I was a little boy, in first grade, I used to draw Magen Davids. If I had grown up in Italy I would have drawn crosses. Blue and white are deep colors that are rooted in me. Visual symbols, like the jug of oil; they are part of my culture, and part of me.

 

In the current flag, the Magen David is a pretty shape, but it does not say much. My suggestion is of a bill and a gun. It took me a minute to come up with this idea since I have lately been dealing with this topic. Money is violence, and what occupies us in this country is how to overcome the bad guys and how to make money. It has always been like this. The last era is a mirror that shows us that there are people who think that money and ideals go together. I would like us to once again be a normal nation, but I have no idea how, because I have no political vision and I also do not like it.

 

 

Rafi Lavie's flag of money and violence

 

I never thought to leave the country; I am like a fish in an aquarium. I am a 70-year-old artist. My options- with all due respect-are here. I love many things here- my wife, my family, and we have sculpture and art that are surprisingly on an international level. I am not a nature lover, but from I have seen on television, we have a beautiful country.

 

Am I happy on Israel Independence Day? Birthdays do not mean much to me, I am not nostalgic and I do not have sentimentalities for dates and ceremonies. When Ben-Gurion was young and he developed the Negev, he called us ‘espresso drinking parasites’. We were the same generation, nothing has changed. I am not proud that I am an Israeli, I am not proud of anything. I do not like the term “pride”. It is a fact. If you love or not, that is a different question. I am also not proud of my son, but I love him”. 

 

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