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Please Act Now! Pro-Israel Groups Censor Palestinian Children’s Art


September 13, 2011 - On Thursday, September 8, 2011, the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland decided to cancel an exhibit of art by Palestinian children in Gaza, titled "A Child’s View From Gaza." The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) had established a partnership with MOCHA and spent several months planning the exhibit, which was slated to open on September 24. Board President Hilmon Sorey cited vague museum guidelines on appropriate content as reasons for canceling the exhibit, but both board members and pro-Israel groups later admitted that the latter placed pressure on the museum to censor the artwork of Palestinian children...


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Please Act Now! Pro-Israel Groups Censor Palestinian Children’s Art

The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)

September 13, 2011

On Thursday, September 8, 2011, the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland decided to cancel an exhibit of art by Palestinian children in Gaza, titled "A Child’s View From Gaza." The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) had established a partnership with MOCHA and spent several months planning the exhibit, which was slated to open on September 24.

Board President Hilmon Sorey cited vague museum guidelines on appropriate content as reasons for canceling the exhibit, but both board members and pro-Israel groups later admitted that the latter placed pressure on the museum to censor the artwork of Palestinian children.

It is likely that the censorship here was yet another example of a $6 million dollar nationwide campaign by the Jewish Federation of North America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and its local proxies, to silence the Palestinian perspective, even in "cultural institutions."  

It is very sad and disturbing that MOCHA, which has in the past courageously displayed artwork by Iraqi children featuring U.S. tanks and weaponry, has now chosen to censor artwork of similar content by Palestinian children, and succumb to financial pressure. But it is an outrage that these pro-Israel groups are using their considerable political and financial power to intimidate a local non-profit organization into silencing Palestinian children and censoring their art.
 

A Call to Action from Middle East Children's Alliance Executive Director Barbara Lubin:

Dear Friends,

On Thursday, September 8, 2011, MECA received the disturbing news that the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland decided to cancel "A Child’s View From Gaza," an exhibit of Palestinian children’s art. 

After months of planning and establishing a close partnership with the museum, we were saddened to learn that the children of Gaza would be denied the opportunity to share their experiences, art, and creativity with the Bay Area community. For 23 years, MECA has been a witness to how pro-Israel organizations can intimidate groups and individuals who try to present the reality and perspectives of Palestinians.

When I asked the MOCHA’s Board President Hilmon Sorey, with whom we met on Thursday, "Who wins?" he could not provide  an answer. I said, "The museum certainly doesn’t win. I told him the museum doesn’t win. MECA doesn’t win. The people of the Bay Area don’t win either. It is the children in Gaza, who have lost so much already, who lose again."

The only winners here are those who are supporters of Israeli occupation and brutality; who continue to spend millions of dollars censoring any criticism of Israel, and in this instance have succeeded to silence the voices of children who live every day under military siege and occupation.

All of us at MECA understand all too well the enormous pressure that the museum came under from the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of Greater East Bay. But we are deeply disappointed by this decision, and I ask you to join us in expressing our concern and urging the museum to reverse its decision.

Please send an email today to the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland urging them to reconsider and support your right to see and hear the message of the children of Gaza. 

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Barbara Lubin
Executive Director
Middle East Children’s Alliance


Let the Children Play and Heal

Much of the artwork featured in the exhibit originated from MECA’s psychosocial program called "Let the Children Play and Heal." It was developed in early 2009 following Israel’s 23-day brutal military assault on Gaza that left an entire generation of children traumatized. The program supports trained social workers, supervised by a psychologist, to help children in Gaza cope with trauma through art, dance, music, and other creative expression.

If you are interested in supporting this important project:

 


Press Coverage of Museum Censorship of Palestinian Children's Art

For More Information:

  • 09/09/11 MECA Press Release on MOCHA Cancelation of Palestinian Children's Art Exhibit
  • A video showing some of the artwork featured in "A Child’s View From Gaza"

Check for Updates: "A Child's View From Gaza" Will Be Shown!

SAVE THE DATE: September 24, 2011
TIME: 1:00-3:00PM
LOCATION: Either Inside or Outside of MOCHA, 538 Ninth Street, Suite 210 Oakland, CA 94607

 

Despite our disappointment in MOCHA’s decision to cancel the venue, the  Middle East Children’s Alliance is committed to presenting "A Child’s View From Gaza," a Palestinian children’s exhibit of art to the Bay Area on the scheduled opening date, September 24, 2011. 

Since news of the censorship broke, we have received an outpouring of support from concerned individuals, groups, local schools and churches, and supporters of human rights, who have offered to help MECA secure an alternative venue.

We are now more than ever determined to share the stories, creativity, and artwork of the children of Gaza, and hope the museum will reverse its decision and do the right thing! We will post an update on this page as soon as we are notified of any change in MOCHA’s position. 

We have sent a letter to the museum asking the board to reverse its decision by Thursday, September 15.

Your voice counts! Please sign the action alert within 72 hours and tell MOCHA there is no benefit to succumbing to pressure from pro-Israel groups and censoring Palestinian children’s art!

The exhibit will be shown either inside or outside of MOCHA. We look forward to seeing you all there—old friends and new!

Source



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