Similar to Goldstone smears, pressure on Gaza art exhibit is attempt to prevent the truth of Cast Lead from getting out

Israel/Palestine
on 13 Comments

Cecilie Surasky writing in MuzzleWatch about the cancellation of an Oakland Museum of Children’s Art exhibit of art from Gaza. The exhbit was shelved following pressure from the Jewish community:

Recognizing that the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council has an established track record of targeting Palestinian cultural expression, I wrote directly to JCRC Executive Director Doug Kahn to find out if they were involved in the board’s sudden decision to cancel the show. Indeed it seems they were, though perhaps not alone. This was his response in full:

East Bay JCRC, working closely with the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, shared with the leadership of MOCHA our concerns about the inappropriateness of this exhibit given the fact that MOCHA – an important and valued community institution – serves very young children.

(MOCHA has only stated that they received complaints “from Jewish groups as well as others in the community.”)

However, it doesn’t seem likely that this is about concerns for children’s sensitivities to war imagery. As the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out in its coverage of the incident today, MOCHA has a significant track record of showing the artwork of children living under war, including WWII, without incident. These images apparently aren’t substantively different.

This is, however, about giving voice to Palestinians-in this case children- who endured a simply extraordinary attack on an illegally captive population of 1.5 million people otherwise known as Operation Cast Lead.

The Israel government and its proxies pulled out all of the stops to undermine criticism of the Operation which drew nearly universal condemnation and triggered massive protest marches around the world. An unprecedented smear campaign was launched against a respected Jewish South African jurist named Richard Goldstone who led a UN task force examining Israeli and Hamas war crimes.

The canceling of the art show should be seen in the context of the Goldstone smear campaign, as well as previous successful efforts by a handful of Bay Area Jewish communal organizations to determine what Palestinians can and cannot say. (In contrast, exhibit organizer, the Middle East Children’s Alliance, enjoys significant Jewish support, and the Bay Area chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace is one of many exhibit co-sponsors.)

In 2007, the JCRC pressured San Francisco State University to change the content of a mural dedicated to the late great Palestinian intellectual Edward Said. It’s worth looking at the mural and then reading the JCRC’s critique to understand the depth of their fear of imagery that is so essential to Palestinian memory of fleeing or being expelled from their homes to make way for the then new state. It is odd, to put it mildly, to read Jewish communal professionals so closely aligned with the Israeli Consulate offering in depth art critiques of Palestinian symbolism in a policy-making capacity.

Read the entire piece here.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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13 Responses

  1. Avi
    September 12, 2011, 11:16 am

    It’s OK to indoctrinate American children with emotionally-draining images of skinny Jewish kids dressed in striped prison uniforms, held behind barbed wire fences.

    It’s NOT ok to show drawings of Palestinian children suffering under the crushing siege and occupation. Doing so is risky as it might HUMANIZE Palestinian children in the eyes of American children.

    No. Better stick to the narrative where Nathan’s people — the Jewish kid who lives down the street — are the victims and Nidal’s people — the Arab kid who sits three rows behind me in class — are the evil ones.

  2. POA
    September 12, 2011, 11:29 am

    I still maintain that these images reveal far too much to anyone with professional psychological training for Israel to allow them to be seen. The diagnostic value of children’s artwork is widely recognized in the mental health field, and this artwork would open a window that Israel dare not allow to be opened.

    It is despicable that this museum has acted in this manner. Lets see the artwork of BOTH Palestinan AND Israeli children. There is no truth that equals the truth of unvarnished innocence. Let the children speak.

  3. pabelmont
    September 12, 2011, 11:40 am

    Probably also not OK to show Iraqi kids suffering from USA bombing, etc.

    Mustn’t offend our Jewish friends (so easily and so often subject these days to being offended, and so very thin-skinned [unlike Israelis]), but no consideration whatever for offending our Palestinian, Arabs, or merely humanitarian friends. Orwell.

    • annie
      September 12, 2011, 2:37 pm

      Probably also not OK to show Iraqi kids suffering from USA bombing, etc.

      nope, it’s not a problem to view the suffering of iraqi children due to our invasion, it is only israel’s destruction being protected. from the SF chronicle article linked above:

      In 2007, it exhibited paintings made during World War II by American children in the Kaiser shipyard child care center. The art featured images of Hitler, burning airplanes, sinking battleships, empty houses and a sad girl next to a Star of David.

      In 2004, art by Iraqi children hung on the museum’s walls. The pictures, made shortly after the U.S. invasion, included a picture of a helicopter shooting into a field of flowers.

  4. justicewillprevail
    September 12, 2011, 11:46 am

    Hypocrisy and lying is generally not a good way of commending yourself to the community. Who do these Jewish groups represent? Because it is certainly not San Francisco people, or Americans in general. Apparently the propaganda needs of a small foreign state, who feel no need to define their borders, is far more important than the communication and public display of children’s concerns and the wish for both adults and children to see them and discuss them. What right do these censors and moralisers have to decide what free Americans can see?

    • Mooser
      September 12, 2011, 3:28 pm

      “Who do these Jewish groups represent?”

      Always remember, as I have begged us all to remember: There is no mechanism or process by which any group which puports to represent or be the “Jewish community” or advocate for the interest of “Jews” and has the means of doing so, can be denied the right to do so.
      For pity’s sake, please read this and consider all of its implications! Ever since the establishment of Israel, this has been the most salient fact of Jewish existence. I beg you again to consider the implications of this fact.

      • Les
        September 12, 2011, 5:32 pm

        “the Jewish community” should be “some in the Jewish community.”

  5. Robert
    September 12, 2011, 12:13 pm

    Take a look at the JCRC website http://www.jcrc.org. It looks so reasonable! It looks so decent. (“Interfaith and Interethnic Relations”, “Consensus Building”) It’s this kind of thing that makes my blood RUN COLD, because I grew up in the bosom of this (apparent) decency. It is part of the identity of being a liberal American Jew. And yet, that veneer of decency provides the cover for silently covering up the atrocities of Gaza and the West Bank.

    I spoke to my mother about this. I said, “organizations that we think of as haimisch and wholesome are actually essential enablers of great injustice and violence.” Gruesome and unacceptable events take place in Palestine, and the impact becomes dulled down, blurred out, and relativized (“both sides are at fault”) so that by the time the information reaches the United States, it has no power to move people other than to pity the situation.

  6. radii
    September 12, 2011, 2:58 pm

    oh, the truth is indeed out there … and unlike the X-Files it is not in outer space somewhere … it is widely distributed on the internet and in the minds of the people (at long last many of the American people) and israel is beside itself that it can no longer control the narrative and has not for some time now … it shall reap the whirlwind it stirred up

    (or they could turn on a dime, become civilized and treat all human beings equally and share the land they stole without violence – oh wait, now I sound like I’m from outer space)

  7. Talkback
    September 12, 2011, 4:05 pm

    Imagine a German Community would try to oppress information about Jewish suffering. I don’t see any difference to holocaust deniers. Maybe it’s even worse, because it’s one thing to deny the truth and another to keep it hidden. They’re just killing the soul of the Jewish people.

  8. Kathleen
    September 12, 2011, 5:19 pm

    One of your links
    “Yet it wouldn’t have been the first time the museum has featured wartime art by children.

    In 2007, it exhibited paintings made during World War II by American children in the Kaiser shipyard child care center. The art featured images of Hitler, burning airplanes, sinking battleships, empty houses and a sad girl next to a Star of David.

    In 2004, art by Iraqi children hung on the museum’s walls. The pictures, made shortly after the U.S. invasion, included a picture of a helicopter shooting into a field of flowers.

    The art by the Palestinian children was similar in content.

    Read more: link to sfgate.com

    We should be driving this point home.

  9. Bill in Maryland
    September 24, 2011, 10:30 am

    After many days, this story about cancellation of the Middle East Children’s Alliance-sponsored art exhibit, A Child’s View from Gaza, under heavy pressure from the East Bay San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council has finally worked its way up to National Public Radio and was the topic of a segment today on Morning Edition Saturday. The exhibit was originally scheduled to open today. One faint glimmer of hope: during the story, reference was made to a Museum of Children’s Art board member who said there were plans to reschedule the art exhibit. The audio recording of this show segment should be online by around noon EST.

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