Aired: December 31st, 2009 Israel National Radio
Rockets to Roses Michael Gerbitz Interview
RADIO HOST: "And it shall come to pass in the end of days that the mountain of Hashem's house shall be established as the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills. And all nations shall flow into it.
And many people shall go and say, come ye and let us go up to the mountain of Hashem, to the house of the God of Jacob and He will teach us of his ways and we will walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of Hashem.
And He will judge between the nations and shall decide for many peoples and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift sword up against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore.
Israel has been inundated with Qassam rockets from the Gaza strip for going on ten years now.
But, someone in Sderot, a little town that's been hit with the vast majority of these rockets, over seven thousand, came up with a wonderful way of answering this prophecy from Isaiah. Isaiah says in chapter 2 verse 4 - And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
We have with us a phenomenally, interesting young man by the name of Michael Gerbitz who represents the people in Sderot that have literally taken the Qassam rockets; they've taken their swords of the enemy and they've made them into beautiful roses, plowshares.
RADIO HOST: Michael, good evening.
MICHAEL: Hi. How are you?
RADIO HOST: Thank God. We've just read from Isaiah chapter 2 verse 2, 3 and 4 and in verse 4 it says, and the prophet says they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
MICHAEL: Well, that's exactly what's being done in Israel today, believe it or not.
RADIO HOST: If I didn't believe that you wouldn't be on Israel national radio right now. So tell us a little bit about the project. While we're talking people can surf over to rocketsintoroses.com; that's rocketsintoroses.com; one word. Michael, tell us a little bit about it.
MICHAEL: Well there's a gentleman who lives in a remote Moshav literally on the border of Egypt and the Gaza Strip in a place called Moshav Yated. A very, very interesting fellow whose name is Yaron Bob and he's actually a computer teacher. That's what he does during the day, but as evening approaches he becomes a metal sculptor.
He's a very, very talented, really fascinating individual who does very, very creative metal work. But, I believe his most incredible project is literally taking these Qassam rockets; there's about twelve thousand of them that have flown in the last eight or nine years into southern Israel.
He literally turns them into roses through his incredible metal work. It's just an incredible project.
I'll describe a little bit to you what this beautiful product looks like. The base of it is a map of Israel because this rose is a metal rose and it has to stand flat so it has a map of Israel as a base. And, right out of Sderot where Sderot lands on the map, literally a stem comes up and a rose grows right out of it with leaves along the way.
It's a beautiful piece of artwork, but much more than that it's meaningful because it's literally saying, in the place where destruction occurred, in the Sderot area; there's growth; there's beauty and growth and peace and hope. And it's literally turning swords into plowshares and it's making an item of destruction into an item of beauty. It's just a fascinating project.
And besides the idea of turning swords into plowshares; getting more political now, more current, if you will, the Goldstone report when it came out, it almost denied, certainly overlooked the fact that Israel endured these rockets for so many years without doing anything.
And finally Israel realized, hey we've got to do something here and why it took them so long to realize that is another conversation. The fact of the matter is, Israel did respond relatively forcefully and all we hear about is what Israel has done in Gaza and literally not remembering that Israel was simply just responding to all that aggression for so many years.
The Goldstone report as Prime Minister Netanyahu has said so many times really is trying to say that it denies Israel's right to self defense and literally just focuses on Israel's quote unquote, aggression, which we all know is self defense, but ignores the fact that there were rockets of so many years and how destructive they were to so many communities and how a generation of children had to face this idea of fifteen seconds as the sound goes off… and just a frightening, frightening way to live.
RADIO HOST: The listeners of Israel national radio are well aware of that fifteen second screen.
MICHAEL: Right, but not everyone out in America is aware so that's where we came on board, myself and my partner. We really decided that this is a very powerful idea. Israelis are not great at PR and marketing as I'm sure everybody out there knows.
But this is just too powerful to just let the Israelis try to run things and we said, no. This has got to go out to America and Canada; we're working on the US and Canada. We've got to get the message out there that the Jewish people literally are about peace, hope and growth and literally turns swords into plowshares, but more than that we want people to have living proof; to have something on their desk that is a piece of a Qassam rocket, right there.
And that's why Israel does what it does to try to defend itself and we want to get that message out there. We can put Internet sites up all day and all night, but there's nothing like a piece of something on your desk… you know they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a piece of a rocket is worth more than a thousand words. It really speaks for itself.
RADIO HOST: Many people have asked me over the years, could I take back a bullet, could I take home something to show to my friends?
In the past I've given the people very close to the President and the First Lady, pieces of glass from buses that have blown up, but here everybody listening to Israel National Radio now can just go to rocketintoroses.com and literally buy a piece of a Qassam rocket that has been beaten by a Jew, from a sword into a plowshare, into a beautiful, beautiful rose. That's something remarkable.
MICHAEL: Now one piece I didn't mention and this is, as powerful as everything was, this is really what makes it even more powerful. When I found these Israelis, part of what they were saying was we're giving money to support Israeli artists, which is a wonderful cause and supporting anybody living in Israel trying to make a living is a wonderful cause.
But, we decided to take it a step further and besides supporting Israeli artists, we decided that we wanted to give for every rose sold to help build shelters to protect Israelis from future attacks. I mean God forbid, we hope that they won't happen, but based on what we know that's going on from the north and the south and we know what's going on... the city of Sderot, thank God is very, very well protected and fortified right now because of all the press that they got from enduring all those rockets.
But for example, the city of Ashkelon, we met with the mayor several weeks ago and Ashkelon is very unprotected. It's a much larger city and it's very well within the range of Gaza and it needs shelters desperately.
So what we're doing is we're giving to Operation Life Shield which is an organization that literally their whole essence is to build shelters and they're professionals at it. We're giving to them to help build shelters in Ashkelon.
There are different types of shelters. We've gotten to learn a lot about how shelters are made, where they're located and they serve different purposes. The portable shelters can be moved from one location to another depending on where they feel the danger is the greatest.
Not only can people identify with swords into plowshares and taking something of destruction and building on it, not only can people be reminded of Israel's endurance of twelve thousand rockets, but you can actually make a difference and protect Israelis in the future by helping to build shelters by buying these beautifully sculpted roses; rocketsintoroses.com. It's very powerful. It's really just a two page website, but we've got video on there. We've got some imagery so it's very, very powerful.
RADIO HOST: So, Michael, again people just surf on over to rocketsintoroses.com. And I want to say thank you to Michael for everything that they're doing.
And we hope that when we walk into offices all over the world we'll be able to see these roses and give a little smile and say, wow, not only did these people listen to Michael but they actually went over and got themselves a rose; they can show it to their friends. They can connect it with what they believe on a day-to-day basis and they can help to build shelters in the towns in Sderot that need it.
I thank you Michael for your time.