Nicky Larkin: Israel is a refuge, but a refuge under siege Through making a film about the Israeli-Arab conflict, artist Nicky Larkin found his allegiances swaying.
Nicky Larkin: Israel is a refuge, but a refuge under siege
I used to hate Israel. I used to think the Left was always right. Not any more. Now I loathe Palestinian terrorists. Now I see why Israel has to be hard. Now I see the Left can be Right — as in right-wing. So why did I change my mind so completely?
Strangely, it began with my anger at Israel’s incursion into Gaza in December 2008 which left over 1,200 Palestinians dead, compared to only 13 Israelis. I was so angered by this massacre I posed in the striped scarf of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation for an art show catalogue.
Shortly after posing in that PLO scarf, I applied for funding from the Irish Arts Council to make a film in Israel and Palestine. I wanted to talk to these soldiers, to challenge their actions — and challenge the Israeli citizens who supported them.
I spent seven weeks in the area, dividing my time evenly between Israel and the West Bank. I started in Israel. The locals were suspicious. We were Irish — from a country which is one of Israel’s chief critics — and we were filmmakers. We were the enemy.
Then I crossed over into the West Bank. Suddenly, being Irish wasn’t a problem. Provo graffiti adorned The Wall. Bethlehem was Las Vegas for Jesus-freaks — neon crucifixes punctuated by posters of martyrs.
These martyrs followed us throughout the West Bank. They watched from lamp-posts and walls wherever we went. Like Jesus in the old Sacred Heart pictures.
But the more I felt the martyrs watching me, the more confused I became. After all, the Palestinian mantra was one of “non-violent resistance”. It was their motto, repeated over and over like responses at a Catholic mass.
Yet when I interviewed Hind Khoury, a former Palestinian government member, she sat forward angrily in her chair as she refused to condemn the actions of the suicide bombers. She was all aggression.