Cancellation of Gaza Art Exhibit Does Not Tell Full Story

November 1, 2011

The Op-Ed column is a space for readers and contributors to sound off about Art Practical's content and to contribute to the larger conversation about Bay Area art which Art Practical supports.

In response to "A Child’s View from Gaza"

Dear Editor:

In an article published in Art Practical 3.3, Noga Wizansky describes the cancellation of an art exhibit featuring Palestinian children’s art at the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland. MOCHA is a valued community educational institution that offers art classes and field trips for children as young as three years of age. Many pieces in the show, which was organized by a separate organization that is strongly antagonistic towards Israel, depict gory images juxtaposed against soldiers wearing large Jewish stars, as well as tanks and planes also bearing this iconic symbol of the Jewish people.

It was not the political bias of the exhibit per se that resulted in a meeting between local Jewish leaders and the staff of MOCHA, but rather a genuine concern that an audience of very young children without a chaperone would not comprehend the complexities of this material. Further concern was expressed for Jewish children who might attend the art institution as part of a field trip and potentially be targeted for their religion or for wearing a Jewish star. It was only after this meeting and after having received letters from concerned parents and educators that the board of MOCHA determined that the exhibit would be too controversial for their venue and require too much staff time to manage.

Unfortunately, the concerns and roles of local Jewish community organizations have been misrepresented in various reports, including the one written by Wizansky. The art exhibit does present a one-sided view of a very complicated political issue but, more importantly, it is not suitable for this children’s art venue. As Wizansky notes, the exhibit is being displayed elsewhere and this new venue has garnered no protest from the organized Jewish community.

–Myrna David
  East Bay Regional Director
  Jewish Community Relations Council

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