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MECA Opens "A Child's View From Gaza" Exhibit on Schedule at New Venue in Oakland, 9/24/11: photos & video
by dave id
Wednesday Sep 28th, 2011 2:22 AM
The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and supporters protested the decision by the Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA) to cancel the exhibit "A Child's View From Gaza" under pressure from Zionist organizations. MOCHA held firm that they would not allow the exhibit. MECA announced that the exhibit would open on the originally scheduled date anyway, outside rather than inside of MOCHA. What MECA kept under wraps until opening day was that they had secured an alternate venue for the exhibit just around the corner from MOCHA. As the exhibit was set to open on September 24th, MECA and supporters first gathered in the courtyard outside of the MOCHA building, displaying reproductions of the Gazan children's artwork. Less than half an hour later, an announcement was made about the new venue and the Brass Liberation Orchestra led supporters out of the courtyard, down the sidewalk, and around the corner to the new home for the exhibit. Hundreds of people attended the opening over the course of the next few hours. In front of the new venue, speakers addressing the censorship included Ziad Abbas and Barbara Lubin of MECA. [Video below] The exhibit is set to show in Oakland through November 30th.
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[Pictured above: MECA's new home for "A Child's View From Gaza" exhibit at 917 Washington Street in Oakland]



Protest at MOCA Against Censorship of "A Child's View From Gaza" Exhibit, 9/23/11: photos & video
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/23/18691167.php


September 24th Opening Reception event announcement - Museum of Children's Art in Oakland (MOCHA), 1-3pm, at 538 Ninth Street in downtown Oakland
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/23/18691155.php



September 27th email from MECA:

Dear Friend of MECA,

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. More than 500 men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds came to celebrate the artistic expression of Palestinian children in Gaza. WATCH VIDEO

All of us at MECA would like to extend our deepest thanks to the many friends and people of conscience who took a stand against the pro-Israel groups that use their enormous financial resources to silence Palestinian voices. Since MOCHA succumbed to the pressure of these organizations and announced its cancellation of the art exhibit, MECA has received an outpouring of support from around the world. Hundreds of letters were sent; petitions were signed; and protesters gathered outside of MOCHA all with a clear message: the censorship of children will NOT be tolerated! We are especially thankful to those of you who have offered to host the exhibit in support of the children artists.

In the courtyard on Saturday, supporters carried enlarged prints of the original drawings stamped with the word “Censored”. Shortly after, MECA announced that due to the overwhelming support from the community, a venue for the art had been secured. The crowd then marched toward a retail space where MECA unveiled the full, uncensored art exhibit that the Museum Board of Directors cancelled just two weeks prior to the opening.

The new space is located just around the corner from MOCHA at 917 Washington Street and had been leased by MECA just one day earlier.

Hours after MECA’s Executive Director Barbara Lubin signed the lease to the new venue and the last drawing was hung up on the wall, MOCHA Board Member Randolph Belle called Friday afternoon requesting to meet with MECA about hosting a “modified version” of the exhibit. This was less than 24 hours before the scheduled opening and while community members were gathering outside of MOCHA to protest its censorship of Palestinian children’s art.

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. Much of the artwork featured in the exhibit originated from MECA’s psychosocial program called “Let the Children Play and Heal,” which uses the arts to help children cope with trauma.

MECA remains committed to the children artists and asks for your continued support of this important program. We will continue to display the artwork over the next two months, and will soon post the exhibit hours on our website. We invite teachers and educators to organize student trips to the art exhibit. For more information on hours, field trips, or how you can volunteer, please call us at (510) 548-0542 or email at meca [at] mecaforpeace.org.

Thank you,
All of us at MECA


Copy the following to embed the movie into another web page:
download video:

mocha_gaza-childrensart-opening_092411.mp4 (75.4MB)

(video 12:35)
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§Children's artwork - crumbling building, ambulance, shooting
by dave id Wednesday Sep 28th, 2011 2:22 AM
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§Children's artwork - helicopter, airplane, and tank attacking
by dave id Wednesday Sep 28th, 2011 2:22 AM
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§Children's artwork - soldier pointing gun at child on knees
by dave id Wednesday Sep 28th, 2011 2:22 AM
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§Children's artwork - fire and destruction from the air
by dave id Wednesday Sep 28th, 2011 2:22 AM
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§Children's artwork - hiding in a corner from soldier
by dave id Wednesday Sep 28th, 2011 2:22 AM
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§Make Art for the Palestinian Children
by dave id Wednesday Sep 28th, 2011 2:22 AM
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§Inside new venue at 917 Washington Street in Oakland
by dave id Wednesday Sep 28th, 2011 2:22 AM
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§Crowded sidewalk outside
by dave id Wednesday Sep 28th, 2011 2:22 AM
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§Naima has raised money for water purification in Gaza
by dave id Wednesday Sep 28th, 2011 2:22 AM
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http://www.mecaforpeace.org/project/maia-project
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http://www.mecaforpeace.org/project/let-children-play-and-heal
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§Hundreds flowed through the room to see the children's art
by dave id Wednesday Sep 28th, 2011 2:22 AM
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Comments  (Hide Comments)

Tammerlin Drummond was horrible on Oscar Grant issues and Mehserle being tried for murder, but this piece is decent.


Shame on MOCHA for censoring Gaza exhibit
By Tammerlin Drummond
Oakland Tribune
Posted: 09/13/2011 05:24:07 PM PDT
Updated: 09/14/2011 11:41:44 AM PDT

In 1992, I traveled to Croatia to report on a United Nations Children's Fund program where psychologists were using art to help treat children who had witnessed unfathomable atrocities during the war in the former Yugoslavia. The idea was for children to express, through art, horrifying experiences that they couldn't put into words.

Atonija Pavicic, 4, saw Serbian soldiers slit her father's throat. She would wake up at night screaming at the vision of his headless ghost.

Yugoslavian children's depictions of flaming body parts and other horrors were put on display at the United Nations in New York City in an exhibit called "No War Anymore."

The art was a graphic reminder that children don't get safely put to the side while adults are bombing and killing. Children suffer very real trauma in war.

There was supposed to have been a similar exhibit at Oakland's Museum of Children's Art, or MOCHA, featuring the artwork of Palestinian children ages 6 to 14 who lived through the December 2008-January 2009 war in Gaza.

The three-week conflict stemmed from a long-running battle between Israeli forces and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Israel launched a bloody invasion and airstrike on Gaza in response to the Palestinian Hamas' firing of rockets into southern Israel. More than 1,000 Palestinians were killed, as were 13 Israelis.

According to the U.N., 257 Palestinian children were killed. More than 1,000 were wounded. Yet it now appears that we won't get an opportunity to view the Palestinian children's artwork after all, at least not at the museum. Much of their art has been exhibited in the East Coast and Midwest.

A little over two weeks before the scheduled Sept. 24 opening, the museum's board of directors has abruptly pulled the plug. In its eleventh-hour about-face, museum officials now say that the graphic content is inappropriate for children ages 5 to 9 -- many of whom enter the gallery without parental supervision.

On Thursday, the museum board notified the Berkeley Middle East Children's Alliance, a nonprofit that has been working on the exhibit for months, that it was canceling the exhibit, effectively leaving them in the lurch.

Barbara Lubin, executive director for the nonprofit, said museum officials who met with the exhibit organizers professed embarrassment over the last-minute cancellation. They blamed the change of course on a lack of clear guidelines about what art is allowed to be shown in the galleries.

Hilmon Sorey, chairman of the museum's board, and his fellow directors ought to be embarrassed, all right. But not because of supposedly ambiguous policies.

They should be ashamed because they caved to outside pressure to censor these children's work, thereby depriving them of their freedom of expression.

Sorey stated in an open letter on the museum website that the board had received complaints "from parents, caregivers and educators who did not wish for their children to encounter graphically violent and sensitive works during their use of the facility."

Where were all these concerned folks when the museum hosted an exhibit featuring children's art depicting the 2003 invasion of Iraq?

Surely museum officials knew when they agreed to host the exhibit that it would include certain images that would not make viewers feel warm and fuzzy. We are, after all, talking about war. Were they really that surprised by images of tanks rolling through towns in flames? Bombs raining fire from fighter jets? A little girl with a bandage on her head staring out from behind prison bars.

Sorey insists that the board's decision was "not a judgment of the art itself or related to any political opinions."

Really?

Jewish community groups in the Bay Area have made no bones about their concerted efforts to kill the exhibit. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those same donors had threatened to cut off future contributions.

The Jewish Federation of Greater East Bay went so far as to crow on Twitter: "Great News! 'The Child's view from Gaza' exhibit at MOCHA has been canceled thanks to some great East Bay Jewish community organizing."

Sorey said on the website that the museum remains "committed to showing artwork that depicts the diverse realities of childhood across the world."

So long as that child isn't Palestinian.