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Tuesday, May 4 2004

Update: Melbourne window exhibit

Shortly after we sent out today's communique on the anti-Israel Melbourne window exhibit, ABC reported that the exhibit has been taken down.

Good. But we'll reiterate the main point from the communique -- the key issue isn't the debate over whether or not 'art' or ideological statements that some consider upsetting should be permitted or funded. It's the gross factual errors on this exhibit, which spread false information about Israel and the Mideast conflict with no indication that anything but the facts were being conveyed.

So this statement by the artist (complete with requisite Nazi comparison) is just off the mark:

One of the most common questions raised over the last 24 hours is 'what is art'? Hitler similarly held views about what constitutes degenerative art.

Then there's this:

Liberty Victoria president Greg Connellan criticised the removal. "I wonder, if it had been an anti-Palestinian work and portrayed the Palestinians as terrorists, whether it would have been taken down?" he said. "We are not children. We don't need protecting from artists' unpopular political views."

If it had portrayed 21 million Palestinian terrorist attacks since Sept. 2000, instead of the actual 21 thousand, then it should have been taken down. And then Connellan would have a valid comparison.



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I have to agree that art should not be censored--the problem is that it is sponsored by the government in this case.

Dan, do you really consider this 'art'? Where would you draw the line between art and crude propaganda? It's hard for me to see any significant artistic act here...

If this were treated as a work of fiction, which it was, then I would have no objection to it staying up, but becuase it was presented as fact, I would certainly say it is nothing more than propoganda, and therefore should be removed.

I believe this is just a perfect example of what happens when narrowminded, ignorant, intolerant, and simply uneducated people manage to get control in government. This is an outrage, not just because it was a blatant distortion of the facts..... Not just because it was paid for with government funds.... Not just because it fuels the fire of a very contentious topic, and is quite possibly the source of the recurrance of antisemitism.... This is an outrage for all of these reasons combined.

This, in a time when the world should be showing a little more responsibility; making a concerted effort to check their "facts" before making false accusations, and showing a little more cultural sensitivity to all of the minorities, sects, races, and creeds, throughout the world....

I guess it only applies if you're a muslim. I guess it's ok to distort the facts, if it is against the Jews, or Israel.... Because hey, whats the difference, anyway? To try to conceal this blatant, intentional distortion as either art, or free speech, (government funded, mind you) is equivalent to slander and inciting violence under the guise of freedom of the press.

In what sense was this art (other than a work of creative fiction, perhaps)?

It was a piece of dishonest propaganda passed off as art, at public expense, but the screams of 'censorship' accompanying its removal were predictable. Melbourne council should have forestalled them with a statement condemning the lies—and correcting them—not vague platitudes about controversy, divisiveness and offense.

The factual inaccuracies seem to be a huge white elephant in the corner that supporters of the display refuse to recognize. Ignorance? Bias?

Supporters who act like this only convince me further that this is not art. It is called propaganda.

I suppose in the art-world anything goes under
the name "art"
Art is supposed to be an this one was of lies..I suppose!!
shame they didnt look into facts first though-would have also saved a lot of time and expense !

Good job Melbourne. Whether the numbers are completely accurate or not, the fact remains that Palestine was occupied by force and terror and the people of Melbourne had their say in a beautiful way. You know, talking about control of government... who controls the US government?

Term "art" is SO stretchable...

Think of some central africans a couple hundred years ago
decorating their communal places with art consisting of
scalpes, skulls...


more known example of Roman/Greek court poets making up heroic
poems/stories about their rulers...

Let it be called art. How about "art of lying". Joseph Goebbels was an artist of that kind. He used to teach
that in order for people to believe in your lie, your lie needs to be absurd and unbelievable.

Anyways, the real issue here is what kind of guidelines/criteria the city gorvernment has for public funding justification of such projects.

Should the city government ban ANY art that is not verifiably truthful? How about Prince of Egypt movie?
Besides many possible inaccuracies that might offend hassidic and some other Jewish groups, Egyptians did in fact voiced two opinions: (1) it's false, and Joseph never was a Prince or noble man of Egypt (2) it did happen and Israel must pay retributions for all
the gold and valuables Israelis carried out of Egypt under pretext of going to worship.

Even if we attempt to use strict historical methodologies and anlysis, the "accepted point of view" will simply be a point of view of a professor of a large University, or of a majority. Look at the UN resolutions to figure out how much should you trust the "majority"...

It's a real shame that the city officials had taken it down because of international pressure, and not because of the local pressure from honest diligent citizens that instead of watching a comedy on TV spend hours doing research on the subject of Middle Eastern history...
I can imagine some Australians talking about international Jewish conspiracy hiding truth from them, and arranging the art taken down.
It would more effective if a non-profit organization sued the city for false statements, and even if failed would get a chance to be heard, and if won, could ask enough money to make a different exhibit.
I like Natan Scharansky's book "Fear Not Evil".

Years ago my husband refused to do military service in communist Soviet Union, and was inprisoned. It was scary, and back in Soviet Union we dreamed about America where government is SO good that it prevents ANY injustice and keeps all citizens happy.
A year or so ago in America I noticed a car in the mall parking lot with a sticker depicting a woman doing b-job. T car was there for
about 2-3 weeks, and "perfect" government did nothing. I called police, and reported the violation of the county descency laws. Guess what, it took 3 months more of fight before it was removed, and the offender was punished.

If you are reading these posts, you still have faith and strength. Stand up against evil, but don't look up to the UN or your government for the definition of evil or good.

My objection is like most of the others; that the 'art work', whatever its artistic merit, was totally inaccurate; I will hope because of ignorance, not some Goebbels-wannabe.

We had a case in NZ (still have) where an MA was awarded to someone who claimed, in one part of his thesis, that the gas chambers at Auschwitz were either not used or hardly used & that a tiny number died there (& in the Holocaust generally). There is not space here to go into all the ins & outs of this case, but basically it came down to whether or not this was academic freedom or someone getting an MA with totally false 'information'; somewhat akin to claiming that the Russian Revolution or the Space Race never happened! I was (of course) among the many who believe that this was NOT ' academic freedom', as it was something that any school child could refute. Auschwitz either happened or it didn't & I am inclined to think that-just possibly ! -it did & that the photos and other evidence MAY just be right & this person wrong.In fact, I believe that he was not 'wrong' & that it was purely an 'academic exercise' for some bizarre reason.

Freedom is the right to express disagreement with or disapproval of Israel or anywhere else, based on fact. I should be able to say that I think someone is wrong, pig-headed or an idiot. I should not be able to say that they are a child-molester or a thief (unless they are!).The same must apply to countries.

I would like to know how the 'artist' arrived at his conclusions; he must think that Israel is huge, if it can have 20,000 DISPUTED settlements, as well as all the others. There would be standing-room only. Someone ought to send him an atlas.

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