Love and Rockets: Artist Yaron Bob Turns Bombs into Roses
by Lorette C. Luzajic
Israeli artist Yaron Bob was looking for “a new symbol of peace, and an answer to death.”
Yaron Bob with his sculptures.
The computer teacher, blacksmith, and metal sculptor sought a way to symbolize to the world that the people of Israel desire peace, while contributing something to the forgotten victims of terrorism. There are tens of thousands of terrorist attacks, murders and rockets fired from Palestinian terrorists at Israeli civilians- not just soldiers- every year.
Jihadists launching rockets
So Yaron Bob began fashioning beautiful roses out of spent Kassam rockets he collected from the police station. A portion of the proceeds from every sale goes to build and maintain bomb shelters in Israel.
By taking the weapon and its intention of death and terror and turning it into a symbol of love, Bob demonstrates his opposition to violence. Because the rocket materials are literal emblems of murder, he didn’t want to touch them at first. But the idea of a rose or love growing from the carnage was too compelling to resist. His art is about transformation.
“I take the Kassam, the instrument of death and I change it, I transfer it into something of beauty,” Bob says on his website, Rockets Into Roses. He also makes menorahs, key chains, and Star of David jewelry.
The choice of materials for his sculpture is important because it is a witness of what too many forget or deny about everyday life in Israel. Each rose has a plaque at its base which tells the date when that particular rocket was fired at Israel. The constant barrage of attacks against civilians comes from neighbours who make clear their intentions to kill every last Jew: Hamas and other Palestinian groups make no secret that their goal is to annihilate all Jews. Indeed, this goal of ethnic and religious cleansing is written into their charter. This obsession with violence and genocide, all in the name of God, has created a regime of horror for the innocent Palestinians and Israelis who desire peaceful co-existence.
Bob’s rocket roses have garnered considerable controversy. “For Israelis to act and to make art as victims is, I think, what Theodore Adorno may have been thinking about when he said ‘no poetry after the Holocaust,’” wrote Edward G. Nilges in a letter to the International Herald Tribune. Voicing his objection to Israeli self-defense on land he notes was once inhabited by Palestinians, he speaks for the masses that believe Israel had no right to reclaim its ancestral land, on which it has always had a presence. That the Israelis had no other land at any time, and were expunged from all of Arabia and Europe- those who survived the ovens, that is- doesn’t matter in this paradigm, where Jews, who have no other state and never have should just disintegrate into thin air. “Let us have no more of this ‘art,’” Nilges concluded.
But art should always be encouraged as a means for people to express and make sense of the world around them. Yaron Bob has personally experienced bombs and missiles falling around him, and his work brings to light this vivid violence while building shelters to protect children.
It is tempting to say that there are no easy answers, because history and war are complex, with many players and themes and rights and wrongs and mistakes and blame on all sides.
But in a way, the answer is easy indeed, as Bob’s roses show- peace would happen if only it was allowed to flower. If all those missiles, bombs, rockets, and guns- on both sides of the story- were laid down, what would happen? The answer is simple and easy indeed.
“It is powerfully meaningful when a missile that is used for killing is turned into a sign of beauty, growth and prosperity.” Mr. Bob says on his website. It is his hope that he will run out of source material for his projects, and that Israelis and Palestinians will find a way to live side by side in peace.