Original art by Todd Goodman, Acrylic Painting on 24"x48" canvas. Prints are available matted on photo paper or framed canvas. Original painting is for sale.
This painting is part of a series of paintings I've created on the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian/Arab conflict. I've been passionate about this subject, which has been ongoing for my entire life, since I was 16 years old and spent the summer in Israel, learning about the history, culture and politics of the region. In fact, I was so obsessed with the conflict following the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000 that I decided to go to graduate school to study and participate in the Peace Process. In graduate school, I spent two semesters living, studying and working on the Peace Process for the Geneva Initiative, a group of leading Israeli and Palestinian politicians and peace activists working for a two-state solution. Following graduate school, I worked as a researcher at Harvard University Law School's Program on Negotiations, on the Abraham Path Initiative, a project dedicated to bringing Jews, Muslims and Christians together by opening up walking trails for pilgrims in the footsteps of the Prophet Abraham throughout the region of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Following my work at Harvard, I interned for President Jimmy Carter at the Carter Center in Atlanta, as an expert research analyst on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
My work in the field of the peace process ended in 2008, as I came to the realization that I would never be able to find a career making peace, due to the fact that war seems to be the currency of the world. At that moment I realized that the best way for me to contribute to this dialogue, as well as satiate my own desires to be involved in creating peace, was through my art. This series taps into the spirit of what I believe are the keys to peace: compassion for the other, understanding the other, recognition of the other, respect for the other, and the simple realization that despite the rhetoric and propaganda of war and conflict, nationalism and identity, Jews, Arabs and Palestinians have more in common with each other than they have differences. It's also a recognition of the very real diversity of people and ideas within each community.
To understand this painting is to understand the use of color and symbols as a form of identity. This particular painting uses colors of the national flags of Israel and Palestine, as well as the geographic borders of Israel and Palestine. The centerpiece (or center-peace) placed in the middle of the painting is centered over the holy city of Jerusalem, Al Quds. I utilize a black and white checkered backdrop to elicit the international communities overly simplified understanding of the conflict, meaning that most of the world does not or cannot see the subtle nuances fueling this conflict, but rather choose to limit their understanding of the region to simple black and white ideas. Generally speaking people decide to support one side over the other based on an overly simplified and unhelpfully narrow understanding of the history, culture, politics and religions of the region. I utilize White and Blue to represent Israel, and White, Red, Green and Black to represent Palestine and Arab Nationalism, which is the philosophical foundation of where the Palestinian colors come from. However, I do not simply use one shade of color, but multiple shades of each color as a way to highlight the fact that these nations are not singular in their composition, that Israelis are made up of all the races and religions of the world, that even within the Jewish community of Israel, Jews are every shade of race found on Earth, and that there is not one form or practice of Judaism, but many. Jews are not simply Jews, as a majority of Israeli Jews are in fact Arab Jews. Which brings us to the other side. Just like Israelis and Jews, there is not one unified shade of Arab and Palestinian. They are white and black, blonde, brunette, and even red-headed Palestinian Arabs. Palestinians and Arabs are also as diverse in their religious practices as are Israelis. The entire region is a jungle of cross-breeds. History teaches us that this geographic location on Earth has been settled and resettled, conquered and reconquered by a very wide multitude of peoples and nations. At the end of the day, we are all different, but we are also one.