Many of the Tel Aviv paintings show an emergent Israel with fewer Arabs
By Robert Fisk
"The Palestinians celebrate their lost land with poetry and art, but always it is a place of lost oranges and olive trees and snug village houses, a mixture of Mahmoud Darwish and old David Roberts prints which show Arab men leaning on ancient wells beside classical ruins, proving that Palestine was not, as the popular Zionist narrative would have us believe, a land without people.
So – on the principle that I always try to consume one art gallery in every town in the world in which I set foot – I tiptoed into the Tel Aviv Museum of Art off Shaul Hamelech Boulevard this week to take a look at how the Jews of Palestine saw their would-be homeland before the 1947-48 Arab exodus......
And as the years pass, Arab villages are no longer inhabited by Arabs. There's a magnificent landscape of Jerusalem in 1960 – Blum again – in which, I suddenly realised, the Al-Aqsa mosque does not exist. It should lie, from the painter's location in the west of the city, on the horizon to the left of the King David Hotel, above and to the right of the Jaffa Gate. But it is not there. It has disappeared. Why? Does life imitate art? Or does art imitate what the Israelis like to call "facts on the ground"? Or dreams? I came out of the museum this week and looked at the still life opposite, the tower of the Israeli defence ministry. From here were sent out the orders for Operation Litani and Operation Peace for Galilee and Operation Grapes of Wrath and, just as notoriously, last year's Operation Cast Lead. Who dare paint the results?"