The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) has found a new venue for an exhibit of Palestinian children’s artwork from Gaza, less than two weeks after the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland (MOCHA) apparently caved to pressure by local and national pro-Israeli lobby groups to cancel the show.
In a press release, MECA stated:
As promised, the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) presented “A Child’s View From Gaza” on the scheduled opening date, September 24, 2011. The art exhibit opened in the courtyard outside of the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland to a tremendous crowd of supporters.
“A Child’s View from Gaza” features the work of young Palestinian children who lived through Israel’s attacks in the winter of 2008-09 — which killed approximately 1,400 people, including several hundred children — and have used art therapy to process their trauma and grief.
On Saturday, 24 September, the day that the art exhibit was planned to open at MOCHA, more than 500 people — led by a marching band — stood outside the museum carrying the childrens’ artwork in their hands, celebrating the young artists and their freedom of expression.
During the event, MECA’s executive director Barbara Lubin announced that the exhibit had found a new venue — a bigger, better gallery space just around the corner from MOCHA. Days earlier, Lubin said that MOCHA board members had told her that they would consider putting the show back on at their museum, but it would have to be “modified.”
In response, MECA stated that:
We at MECA made a commitment to the children of Gaza to share their experiences and perspectives, and consider any modifications to the art exhibit as a form of censorship. Children everywhere deserve to be heard, but we have an even greater responsibility to listen to the stories of children under siege and who survived Israel’s brutal military assault in 2008-2009.
MECA made a video of Saturday’s grassroots protest against the censorship of the exhibit:
Ziad Abbas, associate director of MECA, says in the video:
Here we are, the people are raising their voices, people are coming to the exhibition, and this is an amazing moment. No to censorship, no to silencing the Palestinian people, the Palestinian children. This is a moment for justice.
The gallery is located at 917 Washington Street in downtown Oakland. MECA is looking for volunteers to staff the gallery during opening hours (which will be posted on their website soon) over the next two months. You can call them at 510-548-0542, or visit www.mecaforpeace.org for more information.