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May 27, 2016 5:12 pm

Jewish Leader Blasts Guggenheim Museum for Website Post Accusing ‘Racist’ Israel of Censorship, Oppressing Palestinians

avatar by Lea Speyer

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The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Photo: Wikipedia.

Longtime Jewish leader Abraham Foxman sharply rebuked the Guggenheim Museum on Friday for publishing an article on its website accusing Israel of a litany of serious crimes. 

Foxman — who was tapped to head a new center on the study of antisemitism at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage following his retirement as national director of the Anti-Defamation League — was commenting on an article by Israeli artist and curator Chen Tamir, titled “Censorship in Israel,” which accuses “racist and lopsided” Israel of failing to uphold freedom of speech, oppressing Palestinians and acting as an occupying power.

“The metanarrative in Israel is one of continuous existential fear and victimization, which leads to the increased justification of insularity and nationalism, and the silencing of opposition,” Tamir wrote.  

Foxman told The Algemeiner he was “surprised” that the Guggenheim “would permit itself to be used for such blatant anti-Israel propaganda. This article goes beyond the discussion of art, its political. It’s inappropriate and ill-advised. If the Guggenheim wants to make their website a place to discuss censorship, I can give them a list of 25 countries they should start with and not Israel.”

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According to Tamir, Israeli officials and private citizens have “taken matters into their own hands and established paramilitary organizations to spy on human rights activists and organizations.” One of these “paramilitary organizations,” she says, is Im Tirtzu, an Israeli Zionist youth group that she claims works covertly and overtly to censor Israeli culture.

In yet another example of “censorship,” Tamir points to an exhibition at the Museum of Petach Tikva:

Artist-choreographer Arkadi Zaides was criticized for a video and dance work incorporating footage from B’Tselem’s Camera Project (through which cameras are given to Palestinians to document conflicts with the army and neighboring settlers). The Museum of Petach Tikva, which presented the work, was asked by the municipality to close the exhibition early following pressure from a “concerned citizen,” while the Ministry of Culture withdrew its funding from the show (although the exhibition remained open until its scheduled end date a few days after this incident).

Foxman said that if the Guggenheim “wants to become a platform to discuss art and censorship, this is legitimate. However, to the best of my knowledge, Tamir’s article seems to be the only one about Israel, which is a blatant distortion on what is happening in Israel.”

According to pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon, since 2006 the Guggenheim has been attempting to build a museum in Abu Dhabi, UAE, which “routinely engages in real censorship of art. Not the false ‘withholding funds’ definition that idiot artists like Chen Tamir whine about where a government doesn’t want to support someone publicly defecating on their flag, but honest-to Allah censorship of art.”

“When an artist or a museum sees an opportunity for self advancement, suddenly censorship is not so big a deal,” he wrote. “The Guggenheim, by publishing an article about the horrors of nonexistent Israeli censorship, has no problem with partnering with a country where art censorship is normal and explicit. The double standards to which Israel is subject by these supposed defenders of art and freedom of expression is stunning, and their hypocrisy is blatant.”

In response to The Algemeiner’s request for clarification as to why the Guggenheim would promote on its website an article demonizing Israel, a spokesman for the museum said, “As an arts institution, the Guggenheim welcomes a multitude of voices and perspectives on topics of interest to the wider artistic and cultural community. The views expressed are those of the writer, a curator who lives and works in Israel, not necessarily those of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.”

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  • Renee Brucculeri

    Shame on the Guggenheim. Israel istheonly democratic country in the Middle East. Have you payed attention to what is going on across Europe where meany refugees are against the wonderful democratic countries that let them in. But you always go back to blaming Israel or the Jews. I will never step inside your museum and I plan to spread among my friends

  • The Guggenheim responds to the Algemeiner about the writer’s views being her own. But did it say so next to the article?

    Good on Abraham Foxman. Hopefully, after his blast, the Guggenheim won’t do it again. And if they do, all-hell should devolve upon them.

    • Elhanan ben-Avraham

      I am a professional artist living Jerusalem, having painted large murals in public buildings here- and can state without reserve that I have never sensed any form of censorship here in this very free society. Elhanan

  • Isaac Brajtman

    Why do we have so many Jewish Antisemites? Have they forgotten that when the Nazis went after the Jews ,they didn’t distinguish between any Jew, even 2nd and 3rd generation.
    If ever a situation of control by Islamists occurred, these lovely Jewish Antisemites would be treated like the rest of us too (unless they happily converts to Islam) .
    Israel is not like any other country,because it IS a Jewish country, so if these critics have nothing good to say , instead of playing into the hands of our enemies, maybe they should just keep shtum.

  • Let this be a lesson to Jewish philanthropists.

    Be very, very explicit in your will or else your charitable dollars will end up under the control of individuals who are anti-Semitic in their actions.

    • Your foundation’s trustees will end up being cocktail party anti-Semites.

      The inmates will be running the asylum.

  • Rachel levy

    There are many legitimate targets for the Guggenheim to turn the spot light on.
    Why Israel? Israel is easy to defame when blindness to the deeds of the countries
    In the Middle East ,is the perceived norm , they abuse human rights but get away with it because of inborn hatred of Jews and all things Jewish ,
    The world would be the poorer without the contribution of developments in every field
    Of art and science.
    Shame on the Guggenheim,

  • The Guggenheim Museum should exhibit Hillary Clinton private internet server as a ready made art against the entire worldwide masses minds, then Tamir will learn something which will change his mind completely to wake up, and then he happily will destroy everything he did previously think is art. What the trap Tamir does is as many so called artists worldwide were recruited into becoming political activists leaving their brains behind into the world of stagnation is also the reason Guggenheim Museum is unconsciously brought into stagnation by the trap concept of believing that art as a political given idea into production is art.

  • Foxman is the last person to rebuke anyone since he was the weakest ADL director.

    Guggenheim should be burnt down. These were Jews.

  • Lea, another crackpot who has no idea of the real world. Would like to see her do a story on ISIS directly fro Syria. Let’s see her observations on human rights feminism genocide from Syria. She should also check out victims, dead children, genocide against Christian, true use of torture. Let her observe a few beheadings.

  • Lucifer69

    Chen Tamir, what an ignoramus fascholiberal wanker.

  • Lets be fair in this. In future we expect to see the Guggenheim Museum running praise and worship for Islam and their wonderful deeds to the furtherance and progress made by Islamic Terrorism. They could have head lopping exhibitions and wife and children raping shows. This would be a good way to show that the museum is unbiased in their commentary of Israel. They could also have a photographic exhibit of the Israel citizens blown to bits by Islamic suicide bombers. What fun this will be as Israel does not publish these pictures and Islam would love to see them and brag about them, but the civilized world would be horrified.

  • Robert Davis

    Those who claim to welcome a “multitude of voices” forget these are never pro Israel. As to opportunist tamir, who clecked his PERSONNAL interests? no one of course. As to existential fear who would not with 22 arab countries aroud, 1 billion moslems and lefter fools and opportunists who side with the party they think has more chances to prevail? Therefore Israel’s security is justified on all lines and thoise who deny this evident fact are hypocrits who side with the politically “stronger” hoping to get an advantage from it usually an economic advantage in this case the Dubai contract Guggenheim wants.

  • dan ehrlich

    In any case, a person of note who is an Israeli and makes serious charges against the state has to be taken seriously and not dismissed as a Palestinian tool. Such charges should be investigated.

    With the current right wing government and PM who seems intent on staying in power at any cost (the leader for life syndrome), there may be cause for concern about the erosion of civil society.

  • Charles Kaufman

    Diversity of views is one thing. Outright lying is quite another. Stick to art.

  • RC

    For a “censored artist”, Chen Tamir sure has a lot of controversial politicized things to say to everyone…

  • Rosalie Alter

    The larger problem…..self hating Jews, self hating Israeli’s.
    Until we become one and stop feeding fodder to those that would like to see the State destroyed, the future for all of us is bleak.

  • stevenl

    That the Guggenheim will allow itself to be used for exclusively political expediency is baffling to say the least!
    Shame on the museum.
    One less to see.

  • There is no shortage of delusional self hateful Jews and institutions willing to use them for their own agenda.

  • Moraima M. Mendez

    Ms. Tamir may have an ax to grind and an opinion to give, both of which she should give in her own time, on her own dime and through her own prestige. To use her curator position and the Museum’s website to do it means the Museum agrees. That little disclaimer “is her opinion” won’t cut it because she is a Museum employee in position to speak for the institution. That said, Guggenheim needs to get its act together and stop behaving like a prick. Grow a spine.

  • Myron Slater

    I have enjoyed the Guggenheim in my past life, but the way they have embraced this group of lies, is not worthy of its heritage. I guess that they did not realize that their patrons are mostly Jewish!

  • HALF-BREED

    So does the Guggenheim not read what is on its website? I am so sick of Jews, who are evidently totally ignorant of both history and current events, (try what’s happening in Sweden) using the Guggenheim and similar platforms to promote views that I find offensive beyond words. I am even more sick of organizations like the Guggenheim letting it happen. They are promoting antisemitism and enabling those who preach it, more and more openly, by the way. If you are a Jew and you are contributing to the Guggenheim, Yale, whoever: Cut them off immediately. You can make a difference!

    If Israel is so terrible and the Palestinians so victimized, leave Israel and go join them. I’m sure they’d love to have you. You can help them put asbestos in the tunnels. Any censorship that would shut you and your ilk up, I would welcome.

    Martin Luther King Jr. said that to be anti-Israel is to be antisemitic. Period. Does that make him a racist neo-Nazi?

  • In my mind I’m thinking…how can any Jewish person in their right mind who understands the Israeli/Gazan hot button issues facing not only Israelis but Jewish students and Jewish people everywhere want to stoke the fire of Jewish hatred in this world..I have read of that exhibition at Petac Tikva that some of the “incidents” captured were pure Pallywood productions..to me this not art it is contrivance for ones own agenda….furthermore the hypocrisy of funding a Museum in Abu Dhabi where censorship of expression of creativity is a daily occurrence, I find ludicrous….Our funding of Universities and Museums that perpetuate Jewish hatred has got to stop…Have we not learned anything from appeasing radical groups in our past. This simply does not work…period.

  • The Guggenheim Museum is broken and badly needs Arab money. It’s that simple.

    And Mr. Chen Tamir is not an artist: he’s a jerk who barks.

    “The dogs bark and the caravan moves on” – Arab proverb.

  • ART

    The museum exercises censorship daily in its “selection’ of exhibits. The museum is at best two faced, though more likely superficial and money grubbing.
    Time to boycott the museums. Let’s see how many members of that religion of peace and love frequent the cultural treasure of the museum

  • sloeb

    Screw the Palestinians … murdering Basterds. I’m so sick of all the pandering to this invention by the Arab League – are we really all that stupid?

  • Jack HOLAN

    Then by all means they need to let Elder of Zion print his allegations about the Museum and alleged complicity at censorship by doing business with these Arab States and you can respond.

  • A SWITZER

    Yet another institution falls to anti Israel, ignorance and deception. It takes no responsibility for fostering lies, for promoting unequal treatment of Israel or disparaging a friendly government, and ignores, even seeks support from terror supporting governments and their allies. Maybe its about money, and after all, the Arab countries have a lit if it, none of which is being used to uplift their people,mpromote equality Ir inclusion if minorities. Way to go Guggenheim. You don’t have to explain an obvious bias, nor do left wing artists who also deny truth.

  • Jay Lavine

    There is no shortage of Israelis with sentiments such as these, and I would suggest that it would be of value to see how they got that way.

    With most ideologues, what they say often has a grain of truth, but they seem to go way beyond that. The nature of ideology is that it becomes a religion to people. The ideology is like an idol that is an extension of themselves, and they worship that idol for purposes of self-validation. In order for people to adopt an ideology as a religion, there must first be an emptiness within themselves that forms because of a lack of spiritual fulfillment from a true religion like Judaism.

    What I’m suggesting, then, is that the estrangement from Judaism that is so prevalent these days is the root cause of the adoption of all kinds of ideologies that serve as a substitute for Judaism.

    If my hypothesis is correct, then there is an urgent need for Israelis to change the way they think about Judaism. They must put aside the idea of an ethnic Jew and abolish the dichotomy of religious vs. secular. Judaism as a way of life and as a pathway to spiritual fulfillment must be made more available to the populace in a pluralistic way.

  • Linda

    will not set foot in the Guggenheim again. Obviously you want Arab money. You have become a second rate museum.

  • I guess I won’t be liking the Gug any time soon

  • daphna judith goren

    As if we, the Jewish in the diaspora, do not have enough antisemitic words, expressions, signals, warnings and rhetoric to deal with, we now also have blatant stupidity, misguided sense of right and wrong and self promotion attempts by a curator whose claim is not worth any consideration whatsoever since it borders on the ridiculous but uses the revered museaum- The GuggenheinMuseum for such a lowly, ugly self promotion stunt.How sad that this individual has not learned anything from the Holocaust period nor from present realities around the world. SHAMEFUL IN EVERY WHICH WAY.

  • enufizenuf

    Until the Jewish community start to … instruct its more insane elements in the fruits of their wayward behaviour, this kind of crap will continue to occur.

  • sifter

    Who needs Muslims? The Jews are killing themselves. LOL! Liberalism= the new faux religion of MOTs. Just another ‘ism.

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