Palestine Solidarity Network – U of A has brought to Edmonton “A Child’s View from Gaza,” an exhibition of paintings by Palestinian children portraying life under militarized occupation and daily collective punishment.

A selection of these paintings is currently on display at the APIRG office at the north end of HUB Mall, University of Alberta. The artwork will be on display at APIRG until the morning of Tuesday, April 3.

“A Child’s View from Gaza” is a collection of paintings created in 2009 by the children of Gaza who witnessed the destruction of Operation Cast Lead and who participated in after-school children’s therapy programs. “Cast Lead,” Israel’s December 2008/January 2009 attack on a virtually unarmed Gaza, killed 1400 Palestinians, including 320 children. Susan Johnson, the exhibit coordinator, who worked with the children, says that “Children are unusually honest. They depict what happened during Operation Cast Lead – the horrors of it. The children’s feelings [and]emotions jump off the page”.

The children of Gaza, who are about 50% of Gaza’s population, have suffered from tear gassing, night raids by soldiers on their homes, assaults on family members, beatings, detentions and injuries including bullet wounds. In addition to the ongoing stress of the siege, over 10% suffer from chronic malnutrition. Is it any wonder that that their art depicts the horrors of war?

Susan brought the paintings to North America in 2010. The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) worked for six months with the Oakland Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) to bring the exhibit to Oakland. On September 8, 2011 however, after enormous pressure from the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council of the East Bay, MOCHA canceled the exhibit which had been scheduled to open on September 24, 2011.

A vigorous public education and lobbying campaign ensued which attracted international attention. Many people, not just supporters of Palestinian social justice, were shocked that pro-Israel groups and individuals would expand their efforts to suppress criticism of Israel to the suppression of children’s art. It demonstrated the desperation of people who know that world understanding of the history of the Israel occupation of Palestine is beginning to change.

The exhibit was eventually moved to a nearby building. However, the attention generated and the demand to see the children’s painting first-hand resulted in the division of the exhibit into three smaller shows to tour North America. One exhibit is currently touring western Canada.

For more information about the exhibition, visit childsviewfromgaza.org

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