Art Exhibit Cancelled- “A Child’s View From Gaza”, Oakland, CA

Media Advisory

For immediate Release

Berkeley, CA— The Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland (MOCHA) has decided to cancel an exhibit of art by Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip. The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), which was partnering with MOCHA to present the exhibit, was informed of the decision by the Museum’s board president on Thursday, September 8, 2011. For several months, MECA and the museum had been working together on the exhibit, which is titled “A Child’s View of Gaza.”

MECA has learned that there was a concerted effort by pro-Israel organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area to pressure the museum to reverse its decision to display Palestinian children’s art.

Barbara Lubin, the Executive Director of MECA, expressed her dismay that the museum decided to censor this exhibit in contradiction of its mission “to ensure that the arts are a fundamental part of the lives of all children.”

“We understand all too well the enormous pressure that the museum came under. But who wins? The museum doesn’t win. MECA doesn’t win. The people of the Bay Area don’t win. Our basic constitutional freedom of speech loses. The children in Gaza lose,” she said.

“The only winners here are those who spend millions of dollars censoring any criticism of Israel and silencing the voices of children who live every day under military siege and occupation.”

Unfortunately, this disturbing incident is just one example of many across the nation in which certain groups have successfully silenced the Palestinian perspective, which includes artistic expression. In fact, some organizations have even earmarked funds for precisely these efforts. Last year, regrettably the Jewish Federation of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs launched a $6 million initiative to effectively silence Palestinian voices even in “cultural institutions.”

The free exhibit, co-sponsored by nearly twenty local organizations, was scheduled to open on September 24, and featured special activities for children and families, including a cartooning workshop and poetry readings.

The Gaza Strip, which has a population of 1.6 million, has been under siege since Israel imposed a blockade against it in 2006. The United Nations and many human rights organizations across the world have condemned the blockade as an inhumane and cruel form of collective punishment.

“Even while the children in Gaza are living under Israeli policies that deprive them of every basic necessity, they managed through art, to express their realities and hopes. It’s really very sad that there are people in the U.S. silencing them and shredding their dreams,” said Ziad Abbas, MECA’s Associate Director.

MECA is disappointed in the museum’s decision to deny Bay Area residents the opportunity to view Palestinian children’s art, and is committed to seeking an alternative venue.

“We made a promise to the children that their art will be shown and we are going to keep  that promise,” said Lubin.

For media requests, please contact:
Leena Al-Arian
Communications Coordinator, MECA
[email protected]




Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) and Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) present

“A Child’s View From Gaza”

Photos and Video from the MAIA Mural Brigade will also be on display.

Saturday, September 24, 1:00pm – Tuesday, November 15, 3:00pm

Free Opening Reception Saturday, September 24, 1-3pm

538 Ninth Street, Suite 210
Oakland, CA 94607

Poetry by Deema Shehabi and Lorene Zouzounis
Edible art by The Great Tortilla Conspiracy
Special activities for children including cartooning workshop with Khalil Bendib (ages 10-13)
Refreshments and more

“A Child’s View From Gaza,” an art exhibit by Palestinian children ages 8-14 that reflects their realities and their dreams for the future.

September 24 – November 15, 2011 * Exhibit is free to the public* Tuesday-Friday 10am-3pm * Saturday and Sunday 12-4 * MOCHA is closed on Mondays

For special family events and school field trips connected to this exhibit, plus additional endorsers please contact [email protected]

Many of the children whose pieces will be featured were participants in a MECA project called “Let the Children Play and Heal”. Read “Little Successes” a blog update about the project from Dr. Mona El-Farra!

International Board of Books for Young People – Palestine section, The Estria Foundation, SF Arab Cultural and Community Center, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Global Exchange, Green Youth Arts and Media Center, Break the Silence Mural Project, Dignidad Rebelde, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, Bay Area Women in Black, Palestinian Youth Movement, La Pena Cultural Center, Golden Thread Productions, Interfaith Peace-Builders,  and more!

Due to the graphic nature of some of the images, adult supervision is advised.