Monday, 12 September 2011

California exhibition of war art by Gaza children cancelled as 'not appropriate'

(Middle East Children's Alliance staff members Ziad Abbas, Leena Al-Arian (center) and Barbara Lubin look over artwork. pic: Noah Berger / Special to San Francisco Chronicle)

An exhibition of drawings and paintings created by Palestinian children scheduled to open Sept 24 at Oakland's Museum of Children's Art has been canceled.

The show, which was to run until Nov. 13, included harrowing images of bloodshed and loss during the Israeli bombing of Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead, which began in 2008. In one drawing, a little girl with a bandage on her head stares out from behind prison bars. In another, tanks roll through a burning town as women wail and children weep.

These and other artwork created by Palestinian children ages 6-14 were to have been included in "A Child's View of Gaza," which was to open with a day of cartooning workshops and poetry readings.

Hilmon Sorey, chairman of MOCHA's board of directors wrote in a statement that while the museum supports art that fosters "insight and understanding," an exhibit of art about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was "not appropriate for an open gallery accessible by all children."

The museum has previously shown art created by children during conflict, including images depicting the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

And it hasn't shied away from exploring violence in Oakland. But Sorey said in an interview that the board felt the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is too divisive an issue.

"This wasn't something we felt as a board that the organization could responsibly exhibit," he said. The museum has no guidelines or policy on what it deems
appropriate for exhibition. Almost all artwork shown at MOCHA is by children.

Sorey also said that some community members had raised concerns about the exhibit but would not elaborate further.

The decision to cancel the show, reached at a museum board meeting just two weeks before the exhibition's opening, has left organizers stunned.

"I was sad. Shocked," said Susan Johnson when she learned the exhibit had been shelved. more

Big majority of public in Germany, France and UK support Palestine state UN bid

The majority of citizens in Germany, France, and the U.K. support the planned Palestinian statehood bid in the United Nations, a new poll indicated on Monday.

A new opinion poll published Monday shows that a majority of people in Germany, France and Britain – three countries that are critical votes in the battle over the Palestinian bid for statehood – all want their leaders to vote in favor of a UN resolution to support recognition of a Palestinian state when it's discussed in New York.

The survey, which was carried out online by YouGov in Britain and Germany, and Ifop in France, on behalf of the global political web movement Avaaz - which is conducting an online petition in support of a Palestinian state - shows that in Germany 84% supported Palestinian statehood and 76% believed Germany should act now to recognize; in the U.K. the figures were 71% and 59%; and in France the figures were 82% and 69% respectively.

Ricken Patel, Executive Director of Avaaz, said in a statement: "The overwhelming majority of the British public have spoken - now David Cameron must listen." more

IDF raid by special unit ends in kidnap of five Gazan youths

Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph)-An Israeli special unit abducted yesterday evening five Palestinian boys from an area in the north of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip.

Witnesses told local sources that members of the unit infiltrated through Sriag gate amid intensive and indiscriminate fire at civilians' houses, abducted the boys, and took them to unknown locations.

Witnesses added that the incursion caused a state of panic among civilians in fear of being hurt by Israeli fire.

Israeli army didn’t provide any explanation about the incident. more

Israel clamping down on right to protest on West Bank as UN statehood vote nears

From B'Tselem, the Palestinian and Israeli human rights group -

A-Nabi Saleh is a Palestinian village in the West Bank, north of Ramallah. For for more than eighteen months now, every Friday, its residents have demonstrated against settlers seizing nearby land that belongs to Palestinians. The Friday processions held in the village have become one of the main sites of weekly protest in the West Bank in recent years.

In their handling of the protests in a-Nabi Saleh, Israel’s security forces have infringed the rights of the Palestinian demonstrators in three fundamental ways, as follows:

Violation of the right to demonstrate

B'Tselem's documentation indicates that Israel does not recognize the right of a-Nabi Saleh’s residents to demonstrate. Israeli security forces prohibit the demonstrators from reaching the site that is the subject of the demonstration – al-Qawas Spring and the land around it – and prevent the procession from exiting the village towards the spring. Also, the army declares the demonstration illegal at the outset, sometimes even before the procession begins. The army also issues an order declaring the entire village a closed military area every Friday, and blocks the roads leading to it. As a result, persons from outside the village are unable to exercise their right to join in the demonstration.

Excessive use of means for dispersing demonstrations

The security forces’ use of means to disperse the demonstrations is excessive and occurs even when the demonstrators are nonviolent and pose no threat. The forces fire enormous quantities of tear gas inside the built-up area of the village, which is home to hundreds of persons. In one demonstration, at least 150 tear-gas canisters were fired. In another demonstration, security forces hurled tear gas canisters at a procession of children in costumes who were flying kites. At times, the tear gas canisters are fired directly at the demonstrators, endangering their lives. Also, security forces throw stun grenades almost without limitation at children and adults alike, to disperse them, even when they pose no threat whatsoever.

Harm to the civilian population

The army and the Border Police invest a great amount of resources in dispersing these regular demonstrations, in which several dozen people participate. These resources include the deployment of forces at the main intersection of the village, and the vast quantities of means to disperse demonstrations. Handling of the demonstrations in this manner is disproportionate. It intimidates hundreds of villagers and forces them to remain in their houses for many hours, making it impossible for them to lead a normal life. The massive amounts of tear gas fired penetrate the houses close to the main intersection in the village, and the occupants are unable to escape.

Also, the restrictions on movement in the area every Friday create difficulties for residents of all the nearby villages.

In advance of the expected declaration of a Palestinian state on 20 September 2011, Israel's defense establishment is preparing to cope with wide-scale demonstrations in the West Bank. As part of the preparations, the security forces must recognize Palestinians' right to demonstrate, and must allow them to protest against infringement of their rights. The decision to disperse a demonstration must be made only after the relevant authorities have properly balanced the right to demonstrate against other relevant interests, as is done in the case of demonstrations held inside Israel. In any event, means for dispersing demonstrations must not be used in a way that injures persons or punishes all residents of the village. more

30,000 Bedouin Arabs in Negev desert to face 'forceful evacuation' by Israel

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- The Israeli government on Sunday gave the go-ahead to a plan it said would improve the lot of Bedouin Arabs in the Negev desert, but rights groups complained it would uproot thousands forcefully.

A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said that the 1.2 billion shekel [$324 million] programme was meant to help Bedouins integrate with other Israelis.

"The plan is also designed to significantly reduce the economic and social gaps between the Bedouin population in the Negev and Israeli society as a whole," it said.

Around 160,000 Bedouins live in Israel, more than half of whom live in unrecognized villages in the Negev without municipal services like water and electricity. Many of the remainder also live in extreme poverty...

...The Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Binkom, which advocates fair planning policies, said the Bedouins had not been consulted by the government.

A joint statement said that Sunday's cabinet ruling "authorizes the uprooting of 30,000 Bedouin from their homes and allows for the continued discrimination and neglect of the Bedouin communities of the Negev."

The Israel office of Britain-based Amnesty International said the plan "includes the forceful evacuation of thousands of Bedouins from their homes," and called it "a significant blow to the Bedouins' right to adequate accommodation." more