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Stamping out Prejudice about Israel

198-stamp-2 Yemen Arab Republic stamp for the FIFA World Cup in Mexico 1970 with the Israel name blacked out (photo: Lawrence Fisher)
1965 Jordanian stamp depicting a dagger in memory of the Massacre at Deir Yassin without mentioning Israel on the map (photo: Lawrence Fisher)
Lawrence Fisher ... stamp collector

Lawrence Fisher isn't your ordinary stamp collector.

He was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, came on aliyah in 1977, worked with computer programming and as a systems analyst for forty years. He also acted as a gym adviser for field trackers.

Lawrence lived for thirty-five years in Raanana, but nowadays lives in Ramat Gan with his wife and daughter.

His all-consuming hobby is stamp collection. Early on, he decided to collect and exhibit stamps based on certain Thematics, i.e. stamps from different countries that had a common theme.

One of the triggers for a thematic exhibit on Israel and Jewish history was when he saw a 1965 stamp issued by Jordan in commemoration of an Arab League meeting, depicting a bloody dagger with the text Massacre at Deir Yassin on a map of Palestine without mentioning Israel.

Yet another one was a stamp issued for the World Football Championship (Mondial) in Mexico 1970 by the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR), then also known as North Yemen, which since 1990 is part of the Republic of Yemen. It listed all sixteen participating countries, but after a short while YAR realized that Israel was one of the sixteen, and therefore reissued the stamp, this time with the name of Israel blacked out.

Lawrence Fisher decided to create a thematic exhibit on the Arab-Israeli conflict and won his first award at a stamp exhibition in Beer Sheva in 1990, followed by additional awards in Jerusalem in 1995 and Romania in 2004. In 2008, he created a thematic exhibit called The Jewish Homeland which was also exhibited in China the following year.

In 2013, he decided to rewrite that thematic exhibit and called it The Jewish Homeland - Our Struggle for Survival. It depicts a 10-year old boy named David who asks his rabbi teacher questions on Jewish history, how the nation was established, where the name Israel originated, on Palestinian refugees, and the UN vote. He asks his great-grandmother why she has numbers tattooed on her arm and his great-grandfather about the War of Independence, continuing up to the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and his mother's search for peace.

In 2015, his thematic exhibit was shown in Germany and was awarded 'European Champion of History', with another award at an exhibit in New York in 2016. Realizing that this type of exhibit could be useful in the public diplomacy struggle Israel is involved in to explain its view to the general public and to fight BDS, Lawrence applied for funding from the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Embassy, all to no avail. So, in the end, it all had to be funded out of his own pocket.

Lawrence has applied for his thematic exhibit to run for the European Champion of Champions award at the European Stamp Fair to be held in Verona, Italy in November, 2019. Let's wish him good luck and hope those responsible for Israel's Hasbara take note and start supporting this endeavor. 

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Monday, 22 July 2024

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