Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Independent: Barbican's tribute to 1948 accused of demonising Israel

As far as the organisers of the exhibition are concerned, these photographs of Arab refugees, displaced from their homes in Israel in 1948, are merely an artistic slice of life from a dramatic point in Middle Eastern history.

But the Barbican Arts Centre's show Homeland Lost, consisting of 16 black and white images taken by the photojournalist Alan Gignoux soon after Israel gained independence, is the unlikely frontier of new hostilities between Britain's Israeli and Arab communities.

Jonathan Hoffman, of the Jewish umbrella group the Zionist Federation, has complained to the London arts venue's director Nicholas Kenyon about captions accompanying the photos, which state that the 800,000 Palestinians who left their homes were "uprooted" and "dispossessed". He accused the Barbican of "falsifying" history.

Mr Hoffman insisted he was not speaking on behalf of the federation, on whose board he sits, but added: "The exhibition contains historical distortions which have the effect of demonising Israel." Read more
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