Thursday, 1 May 2008

Berlin exhibition singles out Israel's security barrier

Berlin could have chosen to mount an exhibition on all or several of the fences/barriers/walls listed below. Berlin's decision to single out Israel, and only Israel, betrays the true intentions of the organisers. On a note of optimism: the decision drew strong criticism from some quarters.

Berlin exhibit equates security fence with Berlin Wall, by Benjamin Weinthal, TJP

"A highly controversial publicly funded photo exhibit equating Israel's security fence with the Berlin Wall has sparked political controversy in the German capital.

In late April, a majority of District representatives from the Green and the Left parties approved German photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer's "Wall on Wall" display, showing photos of the West Bank security fence at the East Side Gallery, a historical landmark containing sections of the Berlin Wall that commemorates a divided Berlin during the Cold War period. (…)

Still, the Social Democratic Party faction within the District council voted against the exhibit and wrote on its home page that the display "relativizes the SED dictatorship and at the same time condemns, among other things, the policies of the State of Israel."

Critics charged that the images in Wiedenhöfer's book fanned the flames of anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiments. For example: A photo of graffiti on the separation barrier shows the message, "Warsaw 1943," accompanied by a swastika and Jewish star and the statement "America Money Israeli Apartheid."

Dr. Clemens Heni, a German political scientist whose area of expertise is anti-Semitism, said the photo was a "typical expression of the new anti-Semitism" because of the description of the Palestinian situation as the modern embodiment of persecuted Jews in the Nazi-controlled Warsaw ghetto in 1943, as well as the parallel between the swastika and the star of David.
According to the "Working Definition of Anti-Semitism" issued by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, "comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis" are an expression of anti-Semitism.

Heni has organized an on-line petition campaign demanding that the Berlin government cancel the exhibit, and he called for the "creation of a partnership with the Israeli town of Sderot."
"In the motifs he chooses for his photos, Wiedenhöfer's political views become clear. In his work, he presents a completely distorted, one-sided image of the Israeli security installation. The lifesaving function of the wall is not taken into account," said Levi Salomon, the newly appointed representative of the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against anti-Semitism, an initiative of the 12,000-member Berlin Jewish community which launched on Wednesday. (…)

"Freedom of art" is an important right, said Regine Sommer-Wetter, the Left party representative who voted for the exhibit. Asked about her party co-chairman Gregor Gysi, who delivered a blistering attack on anti-Israeli attitudes within his party in mid-April, Sommer-Wetter said she read the speech but it did not play a role in the "political valuation of the photos."

Gysi said, "Anti-Zionism cannot be, or at least can no longer be, a tenable position for the Left in general, for the party." (…)

Günther Schaefer, a prominent artist whose works address the Berlin Wall, remarked to the Post that it was "tragic that the political parties are taking part" in "using the East Side Gallery as a form of propaganda."

Schaefer, a member of the Board of Directors of the East Side Gallery, sees the Berlin Wall location to depict the Israeli separation barrier as an "equalization with the East German terror regime," and called this comparison unacceptable for Israel."

The City of Berlin's decision to single out Israel, and only Israel, looks highly suspcious to me.

Security fences or barriers to peace? from A Liberal Defence of Israel blog

US/Mexico Proposed. 3,360km. Several barriers already exist with Mexico (California, Texas, Arizona). This would cover the entire border. Anti-immigration.

Belfast, N. Ireland. Built early 1970s. Average 500m. Number around 40. Anti-terror.

Padua, Italy 2006. 85m. 3m-high, round mainly African Anelli estate. Internal.

Ceuta, Morocco 2001. 8km. €30m. EU-funded. Anti-immigration.

Mellila, Morocco 1998. 11km. Anti-immigration

Morocco/Western Sahara 1987. 2,700km. To keep out W. Saharan (Polisario) insurgents

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt 2005. 20km. Anti-terror

Botswana/Zimbabwe 2003. 500km. Anti-immigration.

South Africa/Mozambique 1975. 120km. Anti-immigration. Carries 3,300 volts. Has killed more people than Berlin Wall

Israel/West Bank Under construction. 703km. Anti-terror.

Adhamiyya, Iraq 2007. 5km. Anti-terror.

Cyprus 1974. 300km. Conflict zone barrier.

Kuwait/Iraq 1991. 193km. Conflict zone barrier.

Saudi Arabia/Yemen 2004. 75km. Anti-terror.

United Arab Emirates/Oman 2007. 410km. Anti-immigration.

Russia/Chechnya Proposed. 700 km. Anti-terror

Kashmir 2004. 550km. Anti-terror (India).

Pakistan/Afghanistan Proposed. 2,400km. Anti-terror (Pakistan).

Uzbekistan/Kyrgyzstan 1999. 870km. Conflict zone.

China/North Korea 2006. 1,416km. Conflict zone.

Korea Demilitarized Zone 1953. 248km. Av. 4 km wide. Patrolled by 2 million soldiers. Most heavily border in world. Conflict zone.

China/Hong Kong 1999. 32km. Internal barrier.

China/Macau 1999. 340km. Internal barrier.

Brunei/Limbang 2005. 20km. Anti-immigration.

Thailand/Malaysia Proposed. 650km. Anti-immigration.

India/Bangladesh Under construction. 3,268km. Conflict zone.

1 comment:

eli said...

great blog. keep up the good work.
!ישר כוח