Wednesday, February 01, 2012

LA Jewish Journal supports fake Gaza children's art exhibit

Last September, there was a controversy over the Oakland Museum of Children's Art canceling an exhibit of artwork supposedly drawn by Gazan children.

At the time, I brought some evidence that the artwork was not conceived, or in some cases even drawn, by children at all. Commenters with art backgrounds generally agreed that these were not the works of children. Additionally, the lack of any names on the artwork itself, and the sponsors not publicizing the names of the artists themselves, is more than a little fishy - where else is art shown without publicizing the name of the artist?

But the organizers pushed on, finding other venues. And now the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles is supporting them, in an article called "Who's afraid of children's art"?

[The controversy] about the situation in Oakland caught the eye of Jordan Elgrably, an Arab Jew and one of the co-founders of the Levantine Center in Los Angeles. “I said, ‘Well, what are people really afraid of?’ ” Elgrably said recently, speaking on the phone from the park, his children at play a few feet away. “This is kids, and it’s from their experience. It’s searing; it’s real. We should host this.”

Around the same time Elgrably was contemplating Walker’s op-ed, an e-mail from MECA, the organizers of the failed Oakland exhibition, popped into the in-box of Amani Jabsheh, a Los Angeles-based peace activist. MECA was looking for places to show the work around the country, and they needed help. Jabsheh knew she had to do something. “When I saw what they painted — that’s their reality. I want people to see how the children suffer there under the occupation.”

According to Jabsheh, it was Rachel Corrie, a young American woman who was killed while protesting in front of an Israeli bulldozer, who inspired her to get involved in promoting peace in the Middle East. She saw what Corrie had done and thought to herself that if someone like Corrie, who shared no background with Palestinians, was getting involved, she couldn’t sit on the sidelines. “She was not Muslim, she couldn’t speak the language, you know, [had] nothing [in common] with us, and since that time, I’ve felt an obligation as a human being to do my part,” Jabsheh said.

Jabsheh wrote back to the organizers and MECA, and they put her in touch with another woman in Los Angeles who had also contacted them, Dara Wells-Hajjar. When Jabsheh and Wells-Hajjar connected, they realized that they’d both worked with the Levantine Cultural Center and that it would be the perfect place to stage the exhibition.

Elgrably agreed. “For a decade now, we’ve been championing a greater understanding of the Middle East and North Africa by presenting arts and educational programs that really attempt to bridge political and religious divides,” he said of the Levantine Center.
To think that an exhibit like this promotes peace is more than a stretch. Many of the drawings promote hate; for example there are multiple drawings showing mosques engulfed in flame with Israeli aircraft and tanks nearby.

That last drawing, as I have shown, is a direct copy of a famous poster by anti-semitic artist Latuff, down to the path of the rocket.

Many others do not reflect any reality that children in Gaza would have witnessed. They seem to more reflect Western Israel-haters' ideas of what the children should be drawing.

No reputable museum would show an exhibit without proving the provenance of the artwork. Fake pathos should not replace the truth. Any venue for this exhibit has the responsibility to determine who drew these pictures and under what circumstances.

Because this is not art - it is propaganda. And chances are pretty good that it is a hoax as well.