Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mosh Galili - "I paint because I wish to promote peace"

Moshe Galili and I share a common ailment - We are both limping. Moshe's injury looks far worse though and he has a knee length protective cast and tough plastic case covering his right leg. Not to be outdone I flash my crutches, to prove my Achilles heel tendon damage during football was no flash in a pan incident.

The quietly spoken Moshe was born in Hungary in 1930: "I survived the holocaust as a very young child and the determination of my mother to keep us alive at all costs was the main reason we lived."

The efforts of this amazing woman were not the only jagged memories in Moshe's life: "My father was a tremendous man too. He died after succumbing to gunshot wounds whilst fighting the Nazis in Budapest."

Moshe's experiences from that period have been adapted from his original story and published in 2001 under the title "The Star Houses" as part of a series for teenagers studying WW2.  

In 1948 he went to Israel, arriving a month before The Declaration of Independence. After military service he studied at the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem and was an early member of the artistic village at Ein Hod. He also studied Arts and Crafts in Italy, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in Paris and at St. John Cass City Literary Institute, in London.

Moshe has lived in London since 1962 and has worked on a number of stained glass commissions as well as paintings and art works in various mediums.

He is married to Ruby, who taught history in a Haringey Comprehensive and is now involved in Local History Research. They have a grown up son.

Moshe Galili has been profoundly affected by the events of his teenage years in Hungary: "I paint because I wish to promote peace, to educate and to raise awareness amongst the current and future generations.

"Evil forces have plagued humanity and I hope my work will help future generations to be vigilant and reject those who try to divide and destroy us.

"The human race is one and we fight over differences that are trivial."

Moshe points over my shoulder: "That picture depicts all three Abrahamic faiths. There are similarities and there are differences, but one thing certain is that there is recognition. These faiths have always lived together in harmony so why can't they do so now? This is the duty of the current generation - to educate and promote peace. If an evil force like nazism returns then it will cause great hurt to everybody."

Moshe is concerned at the rise of far right activities in his native Hungary: "In Hungary and all over Europe neo Nazis are rising. When I was younger fascist armies murdered Socialists, Roma and Jews. If you were different then you were a legitimate target."

Of particular concern is the Rise of Jobbik   - Hungary's third largest party. Though Jobbik describes itself as "The Movement for a Better Hungary" and "a principled, conservative and radically patriotic Christian party", whose "fundamental purpose is "the protection of "Hungarian values and interests," scholars, the press and mainstream politicians have described the party as Neo-Nazi, extremist, anti-Semitic, anti Roma and racist.

Moshe and I find another common trait - football. Just like yours truly Moshe is a huge fan of Ferenc Puskás and the great Ferencváros team. I read a few lines of my football poem about the galloping major which proved very popular with Moshe. We talked about the game when Hungary with the fabled Puskás "drag back" taught the great England England team, featuring Stanley Mathews, Stan Mortensen, Alf Ramsey and billy Wright a footballing lesson. Puskás and Hidegkuti ran riot as the Olympic champions and number one ranked team in the world ran out 6-3 winners at Wembley.

He follows football enough to be able to comment on terrace chants and racism - "Football in Europe has far right extremists and racists amongst their support. Nazi salutes and monkey sounds are a problem in Europe and football has a very powerful global platform to reject and educate humans on the importance of respecting each other."

Moshe Galili hopes that his Holocaust Paintings and Stained Glass panels could find a permanent home where they could be exhibited to remember, to remind and educate future generations to be vigilant against the evil forces that have plagued humanity.


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