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February 24, 2022 11:22 am
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Art Gallery Boss Asked to Resign Following Anti-Israel Exhibition

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue

Opinion

A Palestinian demonstrator throws a tire onto a fire during a protest against Israeli settlements, in the West Bank May 28, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

British art curator Alistair Hudson has reportedly been forced out of his role as director of the Whitworth Gallery, after repeated complaints following a row over an exhibition that promoted anti-Israel libels and ignored Palestinian terrorism.

Last August, HonestReporting highlighted that the collection by controversial “research agency” Forensic Architecture titled “Cloud Studies,” which purported to expose the environmental impact of Israeli military action in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, was spreading manifestly untrue claims.

When the exhibit first opened, gallery patrons were greeted with a statement that explained Forensic Architecture’s positions:

While working on this exhibition, Forensic Architecture witnessed with horror yet another attack by Israel’s occupation forces on Palestinians [.…] The ferocity of the bombing produced man-made environmental disasters, with underground explosions leading to artificial earthquakes under Gaza City [.…]

We honour the courage of Palestinians who continue to document and narrate events on the ground and to struggle against this violence, apartheid and colonization. We believe that this liberation struggle is inseparable from other global struggles against racism, white supremacy, antisemitism, and settler colonial violence and we acknowledge its particularly close entanglement with the Black liberation struggle around the world.

But that inaccurate and defamatory statement did not go unnoticed, with advocacy group UK Lawyers for Israel lodging at least one complaint about the “dangerously one-sided” exhibition, in addition to questioning whether it was appropriate that the publicly-funded Whitworth, which is part of Manchester University, was hosting it.

After initially agreeing that the notice was promoting as fact a patently biased narrative, gallery bosses removed the statement.

But just days later, after Forensic Architecture threatened to pull the exhibition in its entirety, administrators performed a spectacular u-turn and agreed to repost the libelous text — this time with a rebuttal from Manchester’s Jewish Representative Council that warned visitors that they were about to see “false statements.”

Detailing this embarrassing volte-face, HonestReporting pointed out that the Whitworth had set a worrying precedent by allowing any part of the original statement to remain, particularly because Forensic Architecture has a troubling history of producing anti-Israel “investigations.”

Furthermore, given the organization’s assertions about the irreproachable nature of its work, we pointed out that in all likelihood, gallery visitors would believe they were viewing the results of a “forensic” probe, as opposed to the artistic interpretation of a complex geopolitical issue.

We also drew attention to the fact that despite the exhibition ostensibly exposing environmental crimes, Forensic Architecture had completely disregarded the ecological terrorism that is perpetrated by Palestinians.

As previously detailed, between May and July 2021, rioters in the West Bank burned more than 70,000 tires in acts that are tantamount to waging environmental warfare.

Nor does any of this even begin to take into account the enormous environmental damage caused by the Hamas-promoted “Great March of Return” riots of a few years ago (see, for example, here and here). Or that Hamas’ use of “terror kites” has destroyed huge swaths of agricultural land and forestry in Israel.

The impending departure of Hudson from the Whitworth Gallery is, therefore, appropriate.

In hosting Forensic Architecture’s litany of anti-Israel lies, he demonstrated exceedingly poor judgment and, arguably, brought the gallery’s name into disrepute.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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