Saturday, 27 June 2009

The Art of War


Aesthetically speaking, it is perhaps the most beautiful emblem in all vexillology. Form and figure appear unified in an almost divine simplicity of perception. And then there's the color: sky blue, nature's own ensign of peace. It's a triumph of art and a manifesto of faith. It uses basic geometry to suggest a kaleidoscope of kinesis. It charms the eye of a child while it evokes the most ancient of histories. It's the state flag of Israel and it's a thing of a beauty.
Between the picture and the practice, alas, falls the shadow. Recent history has dimmed the Zionist's pristine perspective. Painful associations cloud its clean design.
The azure bars that may have been meant for the spans of sea and sky have come to stand for walls instead. Everything looks boxed in, hopeless and closed. The triangles are cells, interlocking and bafflingly contrived. They imprison the eyes. Each of the six starry points now bristle like lance heads stabbing at Israel's six borders, at Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf of Aqaba (and across to Saudi Arabia), and of course the Mediterranean to the West and on into the very heart of America seven thousand miles away. Some now see barbed wire in its serrations, others a terrorist's spiked wheel. The star might better typify Goliath's armor than David's heroic stone. And then there's the color. We look at the blue but the blue turns red, nature's own brutal primer.
Now comes the final tergiversation. The "disassembling" star, to use a famous Bushism,
comes apart, turns black and reconnects as the most feared and hated motif in history, a swastika, the Nazi ensign of terror, now the great spider of Zion.

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