“CULTURE AND ART CAME LONG BEFORE POLITICIANS”

“CULTURE AND ART CAME LONG BEFORE POLITICIANS”

An exclusive interview with Eli Fischer, president of Dr. Fischer pharmaceuticals and founder of the collection Art for Peace, an unique collection of over 400 artworks from artists from Israel, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and mor to support peace dialog and coexistence in the Middle East region. Out of this collection has been created the project Messengers of Peace, a special exhibition to be seen in the main office post in Jindřišská till November, 30th 2012.


Can you tell me something about your Czech roots and your relationship with Prague and Czech Republic?
I was born in Carlsbad, which is now Karlovy Vary, my grandfather studied medicine here in Prague and graduated in 1891, my father also graduated in Charles University in 1927. According to the Munich Agreement of 1938 the Sudetes land was given to Germany, so in September 1939 we left our home and came to Prague where we waited 6 months to get all the papers to go to Palestine, which is now Israel. I was 3 years old. We arrived in Tel Aviv the 14th of March 1939, exactly the same day Hitler came to Prague. My father’s mother came from a family called Bloch, they owned a porcelain factory in Eichwald, which is now called Dubí. Before the war they had to sell it to a Nazi for few marks.

What about nowadays, how often do you come to Prague?
I came here twice, this is the third time I am here. I had here a cousin of my father, she was in Teresienstadt, and another one was her, dr. Springer, married to the cousin of my mother and he was chief doctor in the ghetto of Teresienstadt where my grandmother also died.

How was born the project Art for Peace?
In 1979, when the Peace Agreement was signed between Egypt and Israel, the first day of issue of the stamp on the Peace Agreement, we took envelops and we sent them to one hundred artists to paint on them on the subject of peace. They did it, we collected them back and we made an exhibition out of it. In 1994 there was another Peace Agreement between Jordan and Israel, so we did it again, we sent the envelops to the new artists, this time to 200 painters, and then we took this exhibition all around the world, in 1996 to New York, Washington, Miami, London, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Frankfurt, Tokyo, New Zealand and so on. We also published a book and we gave it to the people we thought could help the peace, as Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president Weizman, and also to the King of Jordan Abd Allah, to his father King Husayn and to Henry Kissinger.
Now, thanks to this initiative of the Israeli-Czech Chamber of Commerce and Industry in cooperation with the chairman of the board of Czech Post who went to Israel, the Czech Embassy in Israel and the Israeli one in Prague, after two years of work we have this exhibition here in Prague. In every opening we made sure to be present the Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian ambassadors, and where present also the Palestinian one. I think this is also very important.

How this project developed on?
As I told you we started with envelops and then me and my wife, which was very active in this till she died, continued buying other pieces of art connected to peace. We made also a competition among children of the world through the ambassadors of many countries in Israel on the subject of coexistence and peace. We received 1500 pictures from children of 15 countries, we made out of it an exhibition and then we donate it to children in hospitals where these pictures are hanging in ten hospitals in Israel.

Is this exhibition moving to some other place?
Yes. On the 24th of September which is the day before Yom Kippur, the holiest day for the Jews it will be in the Castle of Ořechov, close to Uherské Hradiště, because Miroslava Němcová, the head of Czech Chamber of Deputies, will open an exhibition on holocaust.

According to your experience, how would you say that art can help politics to move toward peace?
First of all I think that in history many time culture and art and the cooperation between the people came long before politicians. Today you can see many activities between Israeli and Palestinian artists, but politics doesn’t support it. Now unfortunately the relationships are not so good, on the contrary in the beginning we were very optimistic, after the Egypt-Israel agreement I thought we were very close to peace. Now we are not that optimistic anymore but I think that finally peace will come.

So can we say that your business helps art and art also helps your business?
Yes, that’s another interesting thing. You know, I am an industrialist in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, we’re the biggest company in Israel where our products are in every home. I think art and industry have a lot in common because in my business first of all you have to have original idea and you have to dream since it is not only science, it is also about imagination and this is common to art. Also in industry, as in art, you have many imitators. We help some artists and we develop together project such as Messengers of Peace, we also teach together about coexistence, so art and business can go together.

Is there some moments in your life you remember with particular satisfaction?
There are many. As for art it was very exciting for me to meet King Abd Allah and King Hussein to give them the book of the collection. I felt also very strong emotion when plastic surgeons told me that our products helped many people during war conflicts. As for business I am very proud to have built starting with only 5000 dollars a big company with 700 employees specialized in eye and skin medicine, we do also sell a lot in the Arabic territories as Gaza and West Bank.

How are the Czech-Israeli relationships?
They are excellent. The Czech Republic is the country supporting the most Israel in Europe, hopefully also in the World. Sometimes I think even more than America. The roots of this friendship are centuries old and go long back in the history, I am thinking about Kafka, the Golem and so on. Probably, this particularly good relationship is also related to a common state of mind of understanding each other, what happened to us and what happened to the Czech people which is connected. No matter what it happens, Czechs are on our side.

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Sep 24, 2012 | “CULTURE AND ART CAME LONG BEFORE POLITICIANS”An exclusive interview with Eli Fischer, president of Dr. Fischer pharmaceuticals and founder of the collection Art for Peace, an unique collection of over 400 artworks from artists from Israel, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and mor to support peace dialog and coexistence in the Middle East region. Out of this collection has been created the project Messengers of Peace, a special exhibition to be seen in the main office post in Jindřišská till November, 30th 2012.