Craig Dershowitz, 32

Craig Dershowitz, 32

The artful Zionist

An ardent defender of Israel, and an artist, Craig Dershowitz, 32, thought the two could never meet. But that opinion changed when he joined a pro-Israel protest, to counter a pro-Palestinian one in front of UN during last year’s Gaza war. Dershowitz, who says he is very distantly related to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, carried with him pro-Israel signs with his own artistic drawings. “The art community tends to be liberal and does not support Israel,” he says.

“But there are a lot of people who don’t really know the facts,” he adds. “I think there’s a lot more noise about artists having anti-Israel sentiments than there is actual anti-Israel sentiment.”

Several artists noticed the aesthetic care in Dershowitz’s signs, and within weeks he had formed the group Artists 4 Israel. Its members are mostly “guerilla artists” who work in graffiti and graphic design, and their politics toward Israel are decidedly conservative. They focus on combating negative perceptions of the country and highlighting the security threats it faces.

Though the group hosts frequent events in the city — most often art classes and gallery openings with DJs — its biggest event happened last month.

Dershowitz organized a weeklong trip to Israel, in which American artists — all non-Jews — painted bomb shelters in Sderot. “The idea is that you have these really ugly bomb shelters, and as an arts organization, what can you do?” For a week in May, they teamed up with local Israelis, including Arabs, and painted as many shelters as they could. “We worked with Jewish and Arab youth together,” Dershowitz says. “Unfortunately,” he added, “such an event can only exist in Israel. I could not have gone into Gaza and asked to paint with Jews and Arabs together.”

Favorite artist: Graffiti artist Dan Witz.

Favorite Jew: “[Vladimir] Jabotinsky, the man tattooed on my arm.”

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