60 dead and about 2800 injured. The mass protests in the gaza strip and their bloody suppression made the day of the inauguration of the U.S. Embassy in jerusalem in mid-may the bloodiest in the middle east conflict for years. In the 70. Year since the founding of the state of israel, the conflict between israelis and palastinians threatens to escalate again. Instead of coming closer to peace, for example in the form of an internationally desired two-state solution, the region seems to be facing a third intifada. Even more so since the latest political turnaround by the american trump administration.
Karl-heinz stenzel from ebern is aware of the precarious situation and tries to deal with the seemingly hopeless situation by artistic means. The man from ebern has dedicated a sculpture made of walnut and linden wood to the difficult path to peace in the middle east.
Yearning for peace and freedom
The hobby artist, who has set up his workshop in the basement of his home, has repeatedly been inspired by political developments in his work. He dedicated a trilogy of works on the theme of freedom to german reunification, for example.
"Middle east" is the title of his work, which was inspired by his experiences during a trip to israel with the ebern adult education center. Even if they date back a few years, the retiree will never forget these impressions.
When the group arrived in palastina, a bomb had just gone off, plunging them into the horrors of the conflict. "It would never have occurred to me to do something on this topic if I hadn't experienced it myself", says stenzel in view of a work of art of apparently timeless topicality.
Territorial claims and cruelty on both sides, hamas-terror here and ruthlessness of israeli militarism there, in addition renewed hostilities with iran and a whole region in flames again. The word peace has had an unpleasant aftertaste in the middle east for at least 100 years.
The love of wood
Stenzel, who has been a policeman for many years, once learned to be a machinist, but his real love has belonged to wood as a material since he was a child. He remained faithful to it from his first carvings as a boy, until hand complaints forced the now 78-year-old to put the carving knife aside for good.
His work, which is about 40 centimeters high and made of the root wood of a walnut tree from ebern, lives from the structure it has grown into. The grain he has carefully refined. The whole thing can be imagined as a mountain, on the top of which, on a platform, a dove made of linden wood beckons, separated into two bodies and yet united at the head. "The division of the dove means", stenzel explains "that each party desires peace according to its reading", but these ideas are still fundamentally different today.
The dove(s) was carved from light wood by the native of breslau, as a symbol of peace, which everyone is striving to achieve through a peaceful ascent: the wishful thinking of the people in the middle east and the entire civilized world.
The rupture of the powder keg of the middle east, meanwhile, is made clear by a dark, naturally grown indentation, which stenzel interprets as a dividing line, as represented in the conflict area by the river jordan. From the wood the sculptor has carved several ledges, steep slopes, but also a small staircase.
Some of the possible paths lack an entry point, i.E. A political starting point in the figurative sense; others, on the other hand, appear at first glance to be easy routes to the top, but end in nothing, which, according to stenzel, represents all the failed peace efforts of recent decades. In this way, the eberner expresses "that there is only one difficult path to peace between israel and the palastinians, a path that will demand a great deal of effort and perseverance from each party."
The hope remains
Whether this hope will ever become reality? Karl-heinz stenzel is skeptical, especially when he looks at the policies of today's american president: "trump is doing more harm than good", says the hobby artist. In addition, a number of ruffians in the middle east pursued their own interests. Nevertheless, karl-heinz stenzel will always uphold the wish for peace – even if it is only with the modest means of the visual artist.
the seemingly endless conflict in the middle east
the dispute over the palastine region has been smoldering since at least the beginning of the 20th century. Century. However, the conflict has its origins in antiquity, when in the year 70 the romans destroyed the temple in jerusalem and drove the jews out. The people of israel were deprived of their roots. Living scattered all over the world, the jews have been hostile and persecuted for centuries. At the same time, the desire for a state of their own in palastina grew.
After the first world war, great britain administered the middle east region and demanded the immigration of the jews to palastina. Holocaust and second world war love hundreds of thousands of jews from all over the world to emigrate to palastina. But the region had long been populated by a majority of arabs. In order to resolve the territorial conflict peacefully, the united nations decided to divide palastine into two states.
When on 14. In may 1948 the british administration ended and the state of israel was proclaimed, the dream of the own state of israel came true for the jews, but the arab world took up arms and resisted. In seven wars since then, israel has maintained the upper hand, and has even been able to enlarge its own territory. Hundreds of thousands of palastinians fled to neighboring arab countries, the gaza strip and the west bank.
A powder keg
These regions, the golan highlands and the sinai peninsula, were never at peace again. Fenced jewish settlements destroyed the territory of the palastinians. Terrorist attacks continue to occur, for example by radical palastinian groups such as hamas, which seized power in the gaza strip in 2005, and by israeli military operations.
Another focus of the conflict: jerusalem, where the americans have now officially established their embassy for israel. The city area is fully controlled by israel, but the eastern part of the city with its historical sites is still claimed by palestine as its capital.
The situation is highly explosive: the construction of further israeli housing estates on the west bank and plans for a sea barrier to the gaza strip have been announced in recent days. Only yesterday there was a new escalation and mutual bombardments in gaza.