Menu JTA Search

Behind the Headlines Children’s View of War

On the wall of one of the buildings in the Jerusalem artists’ quarter, the Mishkanote Sha’ananim, there is a drawing of a missile with a man’s head. Art critics are free to interpret the drawing in any way they want. But the artist did something artists seldom do. She wrote a short explanation underneath the drawing: “It is true that our kindergarten was destroyed/The bomb fell and formed many holes in the kindergarten/The kindergarten was beautiful.”

The drawing and the explanation was done by Michal Eisner, 5-1/2, of Kibbutz Gnat which was attacked by a Syrian missile during the Yom Kippur War. The drawing is one of 365 children’s drawings which this week commemorated in perhaps the most effective way the most terrible war in Israel’s history. The exhibitions showed how the younger generation lived with the war, and the children demonstrated that their attitude toward war is so complex that it made many who viewed the exhibition wonder how the young minds could cope with it.

DRAWINGS SOMETIMES HURT

The exhibition was actually born during the war. Children who had to spend hours thinking about the front translated their thoughts into drawings and then sent them with gifts to the soldiers. After the war the Education Ministry decided to assemble the pictures in an exhibition in memory of the fallen soldiers.

Many drawings expressed hope for peace. Typically, they showed an Israeli soldier extending a hand in peace to an Arab soldier. However, many disclosed the emotional crisis that the children suffered. In some drawings one could almost smell the quest for revenge. One artist, Lidia Shapiro, drew scales. On one side is an Israeli soldier laughing with satisfaction, “Hah, hah. hah.” On the other side is an Arab in flames crying, “Help, help, help.”

Children’s drawings, the Education Ministry found, are not propaganda posters. They sometimes hurt. However, the outcome was an impressive array of drawings which will soon travel from Jerusalem to other Israeli art centers. It will later be sent to the U.S. “to show diaspora Jewry how our children saw the war–and how they overcame it.”

NEXT STORY