Published On: Wed, Oct 19th, 2016

Tattoos Cover The Scars Of Terror




A select group of the world’s great tattoo artists are traveling to Israel on a mission called “HEALING INK” to help victims of terrorism reclaim their bodies by covering scars with beautiful body art.

Despite BDS pressures, the tattoo artists participating in the trip to Israel represent some of the biggest celebrities in the inked community, including judges from popular network television tattoo shows like Joe Capobianco and Luke Wessman and other highly respected tattoo legends such as Steve Soto in the contingent of eight artists arriving in Israel on October 16th, 2016.

“Artists 4 Israel has proven the power of formerly taboo art forms to transform communities and heal people, ” says Craig Dershowitz, Founder of Artists 4 Israel,  the host,  a non-profit organization that is famous in Israel for using graffiti to beautify bomb shelters in Sderot and other areas of Israel.

“Tattooing is perhaps the most forbidden project we have undertaken and, I believe, the one with the most power to provide deeply personal healing.” Tattoo recipients include a woman who was attacked with machetes by terrorists while hiking with her friend, and a soldier injured when his unit prevented an attack by leaping upon a suicide bomber as he detonated himself, and others Israelis with injuries ranging from amputated limbs, shrapnel fragments still in their bodies, and bullet wounds.



Artists 4 Israel, believes the value to the 20 plus victims receiving tattoos far outweighs any social stigmas. Tattoo recipients include a woman who was hacked with machetes and left for dead by terrorists while hiking with her friend and a soldier injured when his unit caught and leapt upon a suicide bomber as he detonated himself. Other recipients include those with amputated limbs, those with shrapnel fragments still in their bodies and veterans of most of the Middle East’s most devastating past and recent wars.

“It may sound strange to some people, but tattooing can for sure help someone heal, ” says Jim Sylvia, one of the tattoo artists participating in the trip who is best known as being the “tattooist to the stars” for his work on celebrities like Miley Cyrus. “Making a positive mark on your body also creates a change in your state of mind.”

American artists will be joined by local Israeli artists – both Jewish and Arab, including the Razzouk Family, owners of the world’s oldest still operational tattoo studio which happens to be located inside the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City. Known for tattooing Christian pilgrims during the Crusades, they are now working on this historic event.


Tattoos Over Burn Scars-Photo source


On October 20th from 5-8pm the artists will be tattooing at The Israel Museum in Jerusalem. With the partnership of the Jewish Museum in Jerusalem, the nation’s highest ranking artistic forum, this trip may be a turning point concerning the religious taboo surrounding tattoos.

On October 24th, activities will move to locations on Tel Aviv’s trendy Dizengoff Street, the scene of a terrorist attack on New Year’s Day. From 3pm until midnight the artists will be working at BulletProof Gym (Dizengoff 125) which takes its name after the owner who was shot in the chest during the terrorist attack and is now seeking a tattoo to turn that scar into a symbol of survival. Tattoo work will also be done in Simta (Dizengoff 122), the main scene of the New Year’s Day attack where the Manager was killed in front of the packed bar.

Despite the positive thrust of HEALING INK, controversy looms. The Tel Aviv crowd tends to think this is a powerful response to terrorism, but there are more conservative segments of Israeli society who say tattoos – no matter how positive – go too far against Jewish tradition.

The mixed feelings towards HEALING INK reflect the uniqueness of Israel where ancient faith wrestles with the modern trauma of terrorism. Artist Lady Wilson, who has achieved fame in a male dominated art form, says that tattoos may be part of the answer victims need to find in navigating their place after an ordeal. “A tattoo is a statement – ‘This is my body, this is my life, and I will not let anyone take ownership of how I live or choose to heal.'”

Here are their storeis:


Injured in the infamous Hilton Tower and Moon Island terror attack in the Sinai Peninsula in 2004. Shrapnel from a packed explosive in a car bomb
entered his brain. The other Israeli tourists on the beach tried to save him since no ambulances were coming.
They tried to drive him into Israel but the Egyptian border guards would not let them through going so far as to put tacks on the road to stop their cars. When he was finally evacuated and made it to an Israeli hospital, he was in a coma for four days.
Part of a command responsible for capturing terrorist leaders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Nablus during 2006. While on operation,
his patrol was ambushed. He was shot in his back and the bullet went out through his knee, paralyzing his leg. Has a large, grotesque scar that we
will try to cover. His biggest concern was that “if someone needs this tattoo more, please give it to them.”
Responsible for preventing a potentially horrific terror attack. While on patrol near Tulkarem City he received word that a terrorist was trying to
infiltrate Israel to blow up a concert venue during a packed Hanukah music show. He and his Commanding Officer set up a checkpoint to stop
suspicious cars and prevent the attack. A taxi appro ached with 8 passengers. When they stopped the car, the terrorist got out of the car with
his homicide belt on and began to detonate himself. Dror’s Officer jumped on the terrorist and died instantly. Dror was badly injured and clinically
dead for a few hours before being brought back to life. He now has giant scars that run up and down both legs he wishes to hide.
A medic in the Israeli army, he and his partners rushed to the scene of a car accident in a Palestinian community near Ramal lah. A cement truck
had collided with a school bus and the scene was devastating. A number of the children were badly burnt and died on impact. He remembers seeing
one pink shoe which was just so out of place that it haunted his memory for years.
He and his team went to work immediately trying to save those they could but were soon attacked by the local Palestinian population who saw these Israeli soldiers unguarded. The Palestinians began attacking the soldiers and Maor took a number of hits by rocks in his face and neck. The Israelis worked through even the attacks to save lives until the Red Crescent arrived and only then escaped the area. He wrestled with severe PTSD for many years. Mr. David is now getting a degree in biotechnologically engineering and is an avid musician.
Injured her leg while in the army but refused to admit she had hurt herself. She continued her duties as a soldier,  as well as a Krav Maga instructor
and teacher of Muy Thai until the pain became unbearable. By the time she went to the doctor, she had done so much damage, it was believed
she would never walk again. She is paralyzed in one leg but proud she can walk with the other one for short distances. She now competes
in the International Wheelchair Tennis games and surfs.
During the 2nd Lebanon War in in 1999, Barak was a rescue medic. Two of his close friends were injured and he was on the scene when the
helicopters came to evacuate them. The Hezbollah members who had committed the attack were still loose and began firing at the medical team.
One of his fellow soldiers was hit and called for him. He and his Commanding Officer ran down to the soldier, ditching their gear as they
went to speed their run. A bullet hit the Officer who fell and Barak ran alone down to treat his fellow soldier and close friend Eyal.
Eyal had been hit in the head and the wounds were a bloody mess. While trying to comfort him, Barak was hit by two bullets, one of which went into
his lower back instantly knocking him unconscious and paralyzing him from the waist down. He saw images of his family members pass before him including his dog and heard them telling him he couldn’t die because he hadn’t said goodbye to them. He came to and, while still unable to move anything below his waist, continued to try and save Eyal, giving him CPR as best he could without being able to move and taking bullets the whole time.
When Eyal died in his arms, Barak passed out again waking up days later in a hospital. He had been on the ground unconscious for over two hours, still holding his dead friend in his arms. In total, he was shot over 20 times in his vest and more than 4 times in his legs and arms. When told about this program he thanked Artists 4 Israel. We reminded him that he was the hero and he said “No, I was just doing my job. Your artists are the ones
going out of their way to help. They are the heroes.”
From France, Benjamin was a lone soldier serving in the IDF. He was clearing a house during the Gaza operation when terrorists fired on the
home. The roof collapsed and he was struck in the head causing severe internal bleeding which led to ongoing neurolo gical problems.

Tel Aviv

He served in the undercover unit that infiltrated terrorist groups. When they went to arrest a jihadist planning a deadly attack, he came under sniper
fire. He worked to evacuate the Palestinian family that was caught with them in the line of Palestinian fire. While doing so he was shot in the hand.
One of the women he was evacuating, a Palestinian mother, pulled out a knife and stabbed him in the shoulder and back just missing a mortal cut to
the back of his head. He turned around and fired, shooting her only in the hand so she would drop the knife but avoiding any further injury to his
attacker. Today, he is a mild – mannered math teacher who is afraid of tattoos but wants to cover his scars and knows his wife thinks ink is cool.
As a Special Combat Officer in Operation Defensive Shield, he injured his spine when a rocket propelled him off the roof of a building his unit was
clearing. He has severe spine injuries and is in pain 24 hours a day. He also wrest les with intense PTSD and sees this tattoo as a way to cope with
some of the suffering.
A paratrooper who was in Gaza working with a team clearing out houses used to hide Hamas weapons and rockets. The team entered a booby
trapped house. The explosion killed 4 of his friends immediately. He was cut by shrapnel including a piece of metal that lodged in his skull and can’t
be moved for fear of permanent brain damage.
While hiking with her Christian friend from the UK, she was attacked by Palestinian terrorists with machetes. Her friend was hacked to death in
front of her. Kay survived by playing dead and suffered severe wounds across her body. She is now a survivor who travels the world speaking
about her ordeal and hopes for peace.
Struck by shrapnel from a mortar during Operation Cast Lead two years ago, he has just recently learned to walk again.
Lior was injured three times in combat. The first time he ws injured so badly they offered to discharge him with honor from service. He refused
and fought to rehabilitate himself enough physically so he could serve again. The second time he was injured by a terrorist who attacked him
from behind with a rock. The third and final injury came during his Reserves duty on the last day of the 2nd Lebanon War.
Knowing that the ceasefire was scheduled for the next day, Hezbollah decided to unleash as much death and destruction on the Israelis as they could. They fired rockets as his position and 6 of his friends were injured, 3 killed.
While shooting rockets, Hezbollah charged them with automatic weapons and grenades shooting them as they recovered from the rocket attack. He fell with 10 pieces of shrapnel in his head, two bullets in his skull and one in his back. He was in the hospital for 2 years and had lost the ability to see,  hear or walk. This was particularly distressing to him as he was aphotographer and seeing is his life’s work and passion. To this day, he has a bullet near his spine and the doctors want to operate however, it would cause him a long recovery time and has the potential for severe consequences. He wants to be able to play with his sons so suffers the pain rather than risk the possible negative outcomes.
Part of an abuse scandal growing up, she was one of seven children who were badly injured by abusive adults. Four of those victims have killed
themselves, 1 died from the abuse and another is in a mental hospital. Because of this history, the army offered her to avoid service but she
insisted to join and fight for her country and she was accepted into the IDF sailor unit. She was shot in her lung and spent 14 days in a coma.
Injured from a rocket attack during Israel’s Lebanon War, he lost a leg. He now has a prosthetic leg. He hopes to get a picture of his dog, his favorite
thing in the world.
Shot multiple times in his chest during January’s terror attack on a busy street in Tel Aviv, Ido survived because, he believes, he was in good shape and willing to work to rehabilit ate and heal his body. He learned that fitness saves lives and he has since opened up a gym, aptly named
BulletProof at the same spot where the shooting took place.
Ben Goor
Prevented two terror attacks by shooting and killing one terrorist. Another terrorist escaped in a different direction and he took chase. He chased the
terrorist into a house where he found 5 rocket-propelled grenades and 2 launchers that, turns out, were supposed to be used that evening. Since
then, he has suffered from severe PT SD including sometimes crippling OCD. He has taken to actively seeking treatment to heal himself.



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