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Manchester exhibition on chemical warfare slammed as 'anti-Semitic' by pro-Israel group

August 12, 2021 at 3:17 pm

Cloud Studies exhibit [The University of Manchester-run Whitworth Art Gallery]

A pro-Israel legal group has accused a Manchester art exibition of anti-Semitism after it showcased work which tackles Israel’s violence against Palestinians.

The University of Manchester-run Whitworth Art Gallery is running the Cloud Studies exhibit which outlines how “Tear gas clouds spread poison where we gather, bomb clouds vaporise buildings, chemical weapons suffocate entire neighbourhoods and air pollution targets the marginalised. Our air is weaponised. Our clouds are toxic.”

Providing images from Palestine, Indonesia, Lebanon, the UK along with the Mexico-US border, Forensic Architecture “explore and expose how power reshapes the very air we breathe”.

A statement at the entrance of the exhibition says “Forensic Architecture stands with Palestine” and continues to outline experiences of “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinian neighbourhoods by “Israeli police and settlers”. It continues stating that the Palestinian liberation struggle “is inseparable from other global struggles against racism, white supremacy antisemitism, and settler colonial violence”, the Art Newpsaper reports.

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The director of UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), Daniel Berke, protested the wording of the statement in a letter to the vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester, saying the language seems “designed to provoke racial discord”.

UKFLI goes on to cite an email written by the artist Daniel Mort who criticised the exhibition’s “one-sided” stance.

A spokesperson for the Whitworth told the Art Newspaper that the gallery “takes the concerns expressed very seriously and is in discussions with relevant community groups and exploring as a priority steps that may be taken to address the concerns which have been raised regarding aspects of the exhibition.”

Whitworth Gallery “holds dearly its commitment to a zero tolerance of all forms of racism,” it added.