Salvador Dalí’s Western Wall

Nov. 19 2020

Today, a painting by Salvador Dalí depicting figures at prayer at the Western Wall is being auctioned to raise money for a charitable foundation. While the surrealist painter had been accused of harboring Nazi sympathies in the 1930s and 40s, he would later create a series of artworks on Jewish themes, including his bronze Peace Menorah which stands at Ben-Gurion airport. Menachem Wecker comments on the work:

I’ve written extensively on Jewish art for nearly twenty years, but this religious picture of Dalí’s is new to me. I am familiar with other religious works, particularly Dalí’s mysterious The Sacrament of the Last Supper (1955) at the National Gallery of Art.

“O you, people of Israel, chosen people, sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For your devotion to upholding traditions, for the joy with which you celebrate and sanctify your festivities, I created this ‘Peace Menorah’ and this painting of the ‘Western Wall,’” Dalí said, in an inscription on [the] bronze Menorah. . . . “While with your unshakeable faith you pray for the glory of your ancestors and for the triumph of truth, I want you to see in the radiation of these bright and cheerful lights, a tribute to your people.”

In difficult-to-decipher handwriting, Dalí painted Barukh Hashem, “Blessed is God’s name,” in Hebrew script on the Western Wall, and this is Dalí’s lone work depicting a sacred site.

The auction house doesn’t mention it, but Dalí’s vision here aligns—in likely unintended ways—with some Zionist representations of the Western Wall, or Kotel, which deliberately edit out the Dome of the Rock.

Read more at Rough Sketch

More about: Art history, Western Wall


How Israel and Its Allies Could Have a Positive Influence on the Biden Administration’s Iran Policy

Nov. 25 2020

While the president-elect has expressed his desire to return the U.S. to the 2015 nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic, this should not in itself cause worry in Jerusalem; it has never been the Israeli government’s position that a deal with Tehran is undesirable, only that the flaws of the deal negotiated by the Obama administration outweighed its benefits. Thus Yaakov Amidror, Efraim Inbar, and Eran Lerman urge Israel to approach Joe Biden’s national-security team—whose senior members were announced this week—to urge them to act prudently:

To the greatest extent possible, such approaches should be made jointly, or in very close coordination with, Israel’s new partners in the Gulf. These countries share Israel’s perspectives on the Iranian regional threat and on the need to block Tehran’s path to nuclear weapons.

For Israel, for Iran-deal skeptics in Washington, and for her partners in the region, the first operational priority is to persuade the incoming U.S. national-security team to maintain full leverage on Iran. Sanctions against Iran should not be lifted as a “gesture” without a verified Iranian return to the status quo ante (at the very least) in terms of low-enriched-uranium stockpiles and ongoing enrichment activities.

In parallel, there may emerge a unique opportunity to close ranks with the French (and with Boris Johnson’s government in London) on the Iranian question. On several issues (above all, the struggle for hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean, against Turkey), Jerusalem, Abu Dhabi, and Paris now see eye-to-eye. On Iran, during the negotiations leading to the [deal] in 2015, the position of France was often the most robust. In 2018, President Macron was willing to reach an operational understanding with Secretary of State Pompeo on [key issues regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities].

Last but certainly not least, it should be clear to the incoming U.S. national-security team that any attempt to negotiate must be, can be, and (as far as Israel is concerned) firmly will be backed by a credible military threat.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: France, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, US-Israel relations