The Israeli—Palestinian conflict is back on the front pages this week. The Palestinian Authority is seeking admission as a member state to the United Nations and emotions are running high – even about an exhibit at a tiny museum in Oakland, California.
This weekend, the Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA) planned to open an exhibition of drawings by Palestinian children called "A Child's View from Gaza." It was organized by an activist group called the Middle East Children's Alliance, which has long criticized Israel's 2009 invasion of Gaza. Some of the Palestinian kids' illustrations depict graphic violence by Israeli soldiers and tanks firing on civilians.
Over the last month, Bay Area Jewish groups have expressed their opposition to the exhibition. MOCHA ultimately canceled it last week.
"We were concerned that the audience the museum serves was inappropriate for this kind of art," Rabbi James Brandt, CEO of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of the East Bay, tells Kurt Andersen. Brandt says, "We were concerned that young children with no understanding of complexities of the Middle East would associate their Jewish neighbors with these perpetrators [in the drawings]."
In 2004, the museum displayed art by Iraqi children, some of which depicted violence committed by American soldiers.
UPDATE 9/24: MOCHA has announced plans to reschedule the exhibition:
"When we canceled the exhibit A Child's View from Gaza earlier this month, we did so both because we lacked a formal policy for sensitive content, and because were not confident that we had the resources to deal with the numerous concerns we received regarding the exhibit. In response to input from the community and careful consideration by our Board of Directors and staff, the Museum of Children's Art has developed a new policy governing the exhibition of items with sensitive content. Today we invited MECA to work with us to reschedule the exhibit for display at MOCHA in keeping with that new policy."
What do you think? Did the museum make the appropriate choice in canceling the exhibition? Tell us in a comment below.
Slideshow: Work from "A Child's View from Gaza"