Guardian

The Gaza Kiddies’ Roadshow – turning Britons against Israel, one whistlestop at a time


This is cross posted from the blog: Daphne Anson

You won’t see the picture shown here in an exhibition of children’s art that opened at Manchester Cathedral over the weekend.  This picture, which we might entitle “Red Alert”, is by a little Israeli girl; it depicts her frightening experiences in her home town of Sderot, the target of escalated Qassam rocket attacks by Hamas following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.  And you won’t find any attempts to explain Israel’s rationale  for “Operation Cast Lead” either.  For the exhibition, which has the backing of UNESCO and of official Gazan agencies, is unashamedly one-sided.  Called “Loss of Innocence”, it shows only the artwork of children from Gaza, portraying (or purporting to portray) scenes of distress and barbarity from – you’ve guessed it! – during Cast Lead, and is in many ways the Hamas Propaganda Ministry’s dream.

It consists of about 50 pictures, brought back from Gaza last year by Rod Cox, a Cheshire property developer who went there with the Viva Palestina convoy in which George Galloway also participated.  Due to help Cox to launch the exhibition at the cathedral – I missed that event myself – was Mona Baker, the Egyptian-born Manchester professor who caused widespread outrage in 2002 when, in accordance with her belief that Israeli academic institutions must be boycotted, she removed two Israel-based scholars  from the editorial boards of two journals she edits.

Cox has been prominently involved with an initiative called Chester and Palestine Exchanges, and in 2007 the members of a teenage Palestinian soccer team he was due to bring to the UK for a series of matches in the north-west had their visas cancelled owing to fears they would defect (despite the earlier blessing of the Foreign Office’s “Engaging with Islam” scheme).  In 2008, in consequence of a letter he had written to The Independent newspaper, he was accused of antisemitism by the Community Security Trust’s Mark Gardner.

On his blog there are many of the pictures in the exhibition.  There are also some revealing statements.  On the Armenian massacres: “Up to now it [Israel] has supported Turkey’s cover up of the Pogrom, because it wants the Holocaust of Jews to be unique.  That way Jews are uniquely privileged to do things others are not.”  On the slain Mavi Marmara activists:  “I believe that they have not died in vain … for I believe that this marks the beginning of the end – albeit a long slow end – for Israel.  Too often have they killed from a wanton lust to kill, to exterminate those inferior and in their way, but, really, the future belongs to those dead.”  And this: “How is it that Israel can commit such vile acts of murder … when they have stolen the land in the first place and have killed everyone who gets in their way to keep this stolen land.  None of Israel or the land it occupies has any legitimacy…. It is truly a pariah state, and the only state except the USA to threaten another with nuclear attack.”

The exhibition, as Cox explained when it was first amassed, is “designed for children – but for adults as well”

That’s why there are simple captions for children, at their approximate eye level, and, higher up, captions aimed at adults.  All these captions present a very biased view of the conflict, unabashedly demonising Israel, justifying “resistance”, and depicting Hamas terrorists as freedom fighters; there’s even a drawing of an apparent would-be suicide bomber.

This is not the first time the exhibition has been to Manchester.  Since its inception last year it’s been to many localities up and down the UK, remaining in each for about a week.  It arrived in Manchester this time from Bangor Cathedral in Wales, and soon it’s on its way to Scotland, and then it makes its way to eastern England.  It’s been shown in many schools, including primary schools – for it seems to be deliberately targeting the youngest and most impressionable of children.

Clearly, it’s making enemies for Israel of Britons young and old – one whistle-stop at a time.

13 replies »

  1. Why are cathedrals hosting these events, its sickening. If I find Lincoln Cathedral is one I’ll puke. Wasn’t the shrine to Little Saint Hugh anti-semitic enough for them?
    Don’t tell me, let me guess – there are PSC handouts at all these places that the exhibition goes to.
    Getting schoolchildren offside is a really powerful weapon. The PSC has this teachers pack which is totally lethal, called
    Exploring Palestine through Citizenship – An online educational resource designed to introduce students to the key issues of the Palestine/Israel question (you can see it on-line).

  2. I have to say I think that it is a wasted effort on children. If I try to remember myself how I was up until 17, if I had been shown a picture by other children I couldn’t have cared less.

    As to adults. They would have to have strong political convictions to make the time available to view such pictures in the first place.

    They would hardly be unbiased or unbigoted in the first place.

    What is horrifying is that a cathedral, any Cathedral lends itself to such bigotry.

    But then, being a confirmed Jewish atheist, cathedrals are ‘dens of bigotry and hate’ anyway even if they are impressive structures.

  3. Cox sounds like a very nasty individual, and the very prototype of a left-wing fascist.

    Mark Gardner has got him banged to rights. A vile anti-semite, as his scurrilous comments on Israel reveal.

  4. The Xtians have always had it in for the Davids.

    What is surprising is that so many church people are quite content to remain in what has all the appearance, and attraction, of a shoddy sci-fi saga.

    And brainwashing young children is revolting.

  5. Jerusalem Mite, I don’t think you’re right. I don’t think this kind of brainwashing is lost on children. When I was a teenager opinions in newspapers and a set of encyclopedias I had shaped the way I still think.

  6. I’m glad you featured Daphne’s piece as I thought it excellent when I first read it, even though that’s coupled with a mixture of disgust and [literal] despair at the Cathedrals for hosting this.

    I like to hope that the Cathedrals are simply naive and being duped, but to be honest, with all that I witness nowadays, I fear the worst.

  7. When I read this, I thought of the curious sort of parallel process which is at work here:

    Just as Hamas is twisting the minds of its own young towards loving death rather than life, thereby ensuring the intragenerational nature of Islamist hatred, so too are its useful infidels using Palestinian children to crank up hatred of Israel here.

    Cox et al should be charged with aiding and abetting child abuse, as should be “godly” of Hamas in an international court.

  8. Pro Bono Publico

    Jerusalem Mite, I don’t think you’re right. I don’t think this kind of brainwashing is lost on children. When I was a teenager opinions in newspapers and a set of encyclopedias I had shaped the way I still think.

    Don’t know about that. I was always taught disparagingly of the French. We referred to them as frogs.

    I no longer think that they are frogs BUT, somebody else put the following into my mind. They are the best second raters in the world.

    Now that is a considered opinion rather than an ingrained bias.

    Palestinian Children are being brainwashed on a continual basis making any settlement inconceivable in the near future and proving that the Palestinians don’t want peace. An exhibition in a cathedral for children will hardly affect their opinions in later life.

  9. Pro Bono, offhand I can’t see a reference to Lincoln Cathedral but a google search turns up this
    “St John’s Church
    Location
    Bath Street, Frome
    Major touring exhibition comes to Frome. Gaza Children’s Artwork opened in Liverpool Cathedral last September and has been touring ever since. ”
    So it looks as if Liverpool Cathedral kicked it all off and other churches joined in.
    WTF?!

  10. Here’s a message from Cox on the website of Jane Lawson, a Manchester artist and activist against Guantanamo Bay who made prints for sale for Palestine, which shows how long it has run in some places (another church as well):

    February 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm
    This sounds great, and its good news that children and their mental health are getting increasing exposure in the UK. Our “Loss of Innocence” Exhibition of Childen’s Art from Gaza continues, and arrives for the second time in Manchester on July 25th for two weeks at Manchester Cathedral. Before that it visits Chester University 22nd Feb for a week, Birmingham University 1stMarch/week with a launch March 5th, St John’s Frome March 8th 2weeks, Wesley Chapel Chester March 22nd/3weeks, Market Harborough April 16th/week with a launch that night, and Conway April 26th/week before Manchester Cathedral. The Exhibition is not for fund-raising, but for consciousness raising, and is available for the cost of transport.

  11. Israelinurse, it’s really no surprise that a Cathedral would be complicit in this type of anti-Israeli discourse. The Christian establishment has from time immemorial encouraged and promoted Jew-baiting agitation in the name of redemption and progress.

  12. I was astonished to learn of the participation of the Quakers (see comments on Daphne’s original blog) in promoting this Exhibition. I always assumed the Quakers to be the “Swiss of Religions”. I have recently had to distance myself from them due to this and what I have felt to be a palpable anti-Israeli stance. I feel so so disapointed – almost as if I have been sold fake goods. I seek neutrality.