- Published on Monday, 30 January 2012 06:46
- Category: Featured Partner: Levantine Cultural Center
This article, written by Jonathan Maseng, appeared on Jewish Journal on January 26,2012
In September 2011, the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland (MOCHA) was expected to open an exhibition called “A Child’s View of Gaza.” The selection of artwork drawn by Palestinian children in the wake of the 2009 Gaza War, known as Operation Cast Lead, had been assembled by MECA, the Middle East Children’s Alliance and was scheduled to stay at the museum for two months. Had things gone as planned, it’s likely this article never would have been written — but things most definitely did not go as planned.
What happened is not fully clear, but pressure from the Jewish community and worries that some of the imagery would be disturbing to children caused MOCHA to cancel the exhibition. The move was celebrated by some Bay Area Jewish organizations. According to The Forward, the Federation called the cancellation “great news,” and said that “the ‘Child’s View of Gaza’ exhibit at MOCHA has been canceled thanks to some great East Bay Jewish community organizing.”
Others outside the Jewish community were not so thrilled. Online petitions were circulated to attempt to force the museum to reconsider. One person angry about the museum’s decision was the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, who penned a blog post calling the decision “sad” and lamenting that censorship still exists in the United States of the 21st century. It was a post of more muted tones than her interview with Foreign Policy magazine three months prior, when she’d opined: “I think Israel is the greatest terrorist in that part of the world. And I think in general, the United States and Israel are great terrorist organizations themselves.”
The more measured, regretful tones of Walker’s blog post 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.”
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