Israel/Palestine:Two libraries – two exhibitions

Last year an exhibition of photographs of Gaza and the West Bank was displayed in Cambridge’s central library.  This was in no way a neutral event:

‘Postcards from Palestine’, on the top floor of the Central Library until next Monday, features pictures taken Fredi Canvander-Attwood, Richard Hopper, and Ahmed Hegazi.

The exhibition is part of a programme of events organised by Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign, highlighting what it describes as Israel’s role as an ‘apartheid state’

I don’t know whether any complaints were received, but the exhibition was certainly allowed to go ahead.

Another exhibition of photographs from the region hasn’t fared so well. This one was hosted by a Cardiff library and its focus was on how different communities in Israel can be brought together by sport.  But now it has been cancelled following allegations of bias:

[A] spokesperson for Cardiff Council said that ‘following a complaint’, the exhibition had been taken down less than 24 hours after it opened.

‘The Council is aware there are protests planned around the Wales Israel game at the weekend and this was taken into consideration,’ the spokesperson said.

‘Our libraries are buildings which promote free speech, but it was felt that running this exhibition could lead visitors to suppose that the Council was displaying bias.’

Judith Woodman, leader of the opposition at Cardiff Council, said that she was ‘appalled’ by the Council’s ‘shameful’ censorship and demanded an inquiry into how the decision was made.

‘Sport is non-political. We live in a democracy and have freedom of speech. By this action Cardiff Council have totally disregarded this,’ she said.

‘I intend to take matters further, not least with the Wales Audit Office. As a senior member of this shambolic administration I am aghast at what I have learnt this evening.

‘It is a disgraceful reflection on our city.’

The decision to cancel has been condemned by the Israeli embassy, whose spokesman dryly pointed out that the exhibition had been displayed at the offices of the Guardian, ‘hardly a bastion of pro-Israel views’.