Yesterday I was surprised to receive an e-mail offering entitled ‘Rockets into Roses’. Intrigued, I opened the message to find that it is a project in southern Israel involving an artist who makes hand sculpted roses, candlesticks and menorahs from rockets fired across the border by Hamas and its affiliates. These stunning pieces are the work of Yaron Bob, an Israeli artist and part-time teacher who lives on the border.
Like thousands of other Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens, Bob lives day by day in the shadow of terror. Undaunted, his mission is to transform objects of hatred and war into expressions of grace and peace which symbolise the perseverance of the people of Israel.
In the summer of 2005, Israel evacuated 10,000 of its citizens from 21 communities in the occupied Gaza region...... all in the hope of a peaceful future. Sadly, withdrawal from Gaza had the opposite effect. Rocket attacks on southern Israel intensified with fear, panic and destruction becoming the norm. Israel's response was initially muted in the hope that perseverance and restraint would lead to a diplomatic solution. However, restraint only encouraged more rocket attacks.
Since 2005, more than 12,000 ‘Kassam’ rockets have been fired into southern Israel. These are primitive, unguided and therefore indiscriminate, ‘low tec’ weapons. An entire generation of children and adults has grown up living in the shadow of terror. When the siren is activated, Israelis in the south have 15 seconds to take shelter from incoming missiles.
Israel sent its military into Gaza in December 2008 as a last-resort attempt to bring about peace and security, exercising its right of self-defence and its' obligation to protect its citizens. Militarily successful, the operation was a diplomatic nightmare. The UN's Goldstone Report condemned Israel for its' aggression. Undaunted, the Israeli government took further defensive military action in 2010 and 2012 in the face of continued rocket attacks from Gaza.
Yaron Bob lives in the remote Israeli town of Yated, close to Israel's border with both Egypt and Gaza. Talking about his work, Bob said, "I find it fascinating to make a work of art from a piece of metal. It is powerfully meaningful when a missile that is used for killing is turned into a sign of beauty, growth and prosperity".
As pieces of living history, Bob’s roses are extraordinary. Profits from their sale are used to build concrete shelters to protect Israelis from missile attack. They have been presented to visiting leaders such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
I love the motive behind ‘Rockets to Roses’. The Bible in the Book of Isaiah reminds us that despite, the strident anti-Israel rhetoric of some Scottish Christians the living God has a special peaceful purpose for his chosen people:
“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
‘Rockets to Roses’..............I’ll buy that !!!