Sunday, September 11, 2011

Oakland museum cancels Palestinian kids' war art

The Berkeley-based Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) is a coalition member of the US Campaign. The following article appeared on page C1 of yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle.

Jill Tucker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, September 10, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO -- An Oakland children's museum, citing pressure from the community, canceled a planned exhibit of artwork by Palestinian youth that depicted the Israeli assault during the 2008-09 Gaza conflict.

The Museum of Children's Art was scheduled to display the art from Sept. 24 to Nov. 13. The exhibit had been in the works for several months, with an opening reception to feature poetry and special art activities for children.

The drawings in the exhibit were created by children ranging in age from about 9 to 11 and included bombs dropping, tanks and people getting shot.

"They are pictures of what these children experienced. It's their experience," said Barbara Lubin, executive director of the Middle East Children's Alliance, which was organizing the exhibition.

Museum officials notified Lubin on Thursday that they were pulling the plug on what had become a controversial exhibit that was pulling the children's museum into the long-standing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

Barbara Lubin, founder of Middle East Children's Alliance
(MECA) displays artwork by Palestinian youths on Friday,
Sept. 9, 2011, in Berkeley, Calif. The Museum of Children's
Art (MOCHA) in Oakland cancelled an exhibit that would
have featured the artwork. Photo: Noah Berger / Special
to The Chronicle
It had become a distraction to the main objective of bringing arts education to all children, said museum board member Randolph Bell.

"The pressure was ... well, we were getting calls from constituents that were concerned about the situation," Bell said. "We don't have any political stake in this thing. It just became apparent that we needed to rethink this."

The complaints came from Jewish groups as well as others in the community, board members said.