Palestinian art is “propaganda”

It’s supposedly offensive to support Palestine. Makes you a backer of Hamas, supposedly:

Outrage over “propaganda” at a recent Chapel off Chapel art show has prompted an apology from Stonnington Council.

But the show’s organisers are defiant, saying they were entitled to express “free speech” in the printed flyers.

The Painting Blue Skies Over Gaza exhibition opened at the council-run Prahran venue in May.

Australians for Palestine organised the art show, which had Gaza-related paintings by Parkville artist Dora McPhee and works by Palestinian children.

A number of flyers, some describing Israel as an apartheid state with accusations of ethnic cleansing and racist policies, were left about the venue during the show.

A resident who complained to Stonnington Council, Leah, said “many, many individuals” had been concerned by the flyers.

The exhibition was “just a disguise for distributing propaganda,” she said. “It is a publicly-funded place and here we are funding propaganda for Hamas. We were just dumbfounded.”

Mayor Tim Smith last week said the printed material had no place at the venue.

“I thought it was totally offensive and insensitive,” Cr Smith said. “It had nothing to do with the art on display.”

But Australians for Palestine co-founder Sonja Karkar defended the flyers. “It’s not propaganda, it’s the truth. There is nothing offensive about it,” she said.

“We paid for the space and we have every right to put out this material. (It’s) free speech”.

Cr Smith said the venue had approved an art exhibition and not political campaigning.

When the material was reported to Chapel off Chapel’s staff during the art show, the flyers were removed “as best they could”, Cr Smith said.

Dora McPhee, a founding member of Australians for Palestine, said she supported the flyers that “helped explain the wider context of 62 years of injustice that the Palestinians have suffered and still suffer to this day”.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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