British Museum Exhibit Features Postcard Accusing Israel of Ethnic Cleansing
A new exhibit at the British Museum in London features a postcard accusing Israel of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians.
The exhibit titled, “The World Exists to Be Put on a Postcard,” opened on February 7 and showcases over 300 postcards created by major artists over the past half century. They are part of a much larger collection of over 1,000 cards recently donated to the museum. The exhibit runs until August 4.
Many of the postcards featured are political in nature, including an anti-war image by Yoko Ono and John Lennon, a work by Jasper Johns against the Vietnam War and a collection of feminist images by Jill Posener, among others.
The postcard in question is listed as number 19, by Gathered Images, entitled “Ethnic Cleansing.”
It features four maps of Israel in which the territory of what is marked “Palestine” appears in green, while what appears to be Israeli territory is shown in white. The maps purport to show the diminution of Palestinian territory over the years, with the green areas steadily shrinking under dates listed as 1946, 1947, 1948-1967 and 1999. The maps are a common image used in anti-Israel propaganda.
The postcard features what appears to be a poem above the maps, with the author listed as Michael Rosen. It seems to describe an Arab family claiming a Jewish home belongs to them. They cite documents proving this, but the owners cite the Bible instead. Asked who wrote their “documents” of ownership, the Jews reply, “God wrote them, look, here come His tanks.”
A visitor to the museum who spotted the card told The Algemeiner, “My personal reaction was that I nearly exploded when I saw it. I couldn’t believe it. Here in the British Museum of all places! I was so shocked and angry. And it was really painful to see it there.”
“Even if not so many people visit the exhibition as compared to the people rushing to see the Rosetta Stone for example there will be still an awful damage done,” she continued. “The British Museum is a well respected institution, people go their to learn, and they trust in what is presented there as a truth. And this piece of propaganda will be displayed there until August.”
“It’s horrible to think of the masses of people (and in the end it will be many people over months) will leave there with this blood libel in in their minds,” she added. “Especially in the time of rising antisemitism in Europe and around the world it is irresponsible to display something like that and to let it speak for itself. Even though it is very easy for the museum to find out that what it speaks of is a lie.”
A British Museum spokesperson said in response to an Algemeiner query, “These postcards are an individual collector’s choice, the British Museum is a neutral body and doesn’t take any political stance. There are lots of strong views expressed across the show through these postcards which will not appeal to all visitors. The show is about how artists both past and present choose to express themselves on postcards, any offense is unintentional.”