Pro-Israel groups fail to force cancellation of Palestinian children’s art exhibition.
Published in Ahram Online
The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) has announced a successful opening of its exhibition, ‘A Child’s View From Gaza’, which took place on 24 September.
“The art exhibit opened in the courtyard outside the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland to a tremendous crowd of supporters. More than 500 men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds came to celebrate the artistic expression of Palestinian children in Gaza.”
The exhibition had been planned in a collaboration between MECA and the museum and was due to open on the museum’s premises.
Artwork created by children aged between 9 – 11 included drawings of bombs dropping and scenes captured by children who had experience the Palestinian-Israeli conflict first-hand.
Earlier this month, the president of MECA announced the exhibition had been cancelled, saying that certain quarters found it ‘inappropriate’ for a gallery accessible to children. MECA has learned that MOCHA was subjected to strong efforts by pro-Israel groups in the San Francisco Bay area to cancel the exhibition.
The cancellation outraged supporters, activists and members of the public. In its official statement MECA underscored the great support they received from all around the world, with many letters pouring into the Alliance with statements such as: “The censorship of children will NOT be tolerated!”
Two weeks after its cancellation, the exhibition found its new location, around the corner from MOCHA, at 917 Washington Street.
During the opening, MECA supporters carried enlarged prints of the original drawings stamped with the word ‘Censored’. In their official statement, MECA underlines the commitment it has to the children of Gaza which includes protecting the exhibition from any form of censorship.
“Children everywhere deserve to be heard, but we have an even greater responsibility to listen to the stories of children under siege and who survived Israel’s brutal military assault in 2008-2009. Much of the artwork featured in the exhibit originated from MECA’s psychosocial program called “Let the Children Play and Heal,” which uses the arts to help children cope with trauma.”