The Israeli ambassador to Canada urged Jewish organizations in the country to push for the removal of an art exhibition on display in Ottawa City Hall because it “glorifies terrorism.” Rafael Barak claimed last week that the exhibition, which features the works of Palestinian artist Rehab Nazzal, incites violence and promotes the idea that Israel does not have a right to exist.
Nazzal’s exhibition, titled “Invisible,” comprises a number of videos and photos taken during confrontations between Israeli security forces and Palestinian prisoners at Ketziot Prison in southern Israel, Haaretz reported. Barak said that one of the videos, “Target,” portrayed several Palestinian leaders who were behind a number of terrorist attacks against Israelis in the 1970s and ’80s. A note accompanying the work stated that the Palestinians featured in the film were artists, writers and activists who had been “assassinated by Israel.”
“The exhibit enables Canadians to see where the roots of terror lie. They lie in the fact that Palestinians glorify terror and incite to violence, as well as refusing to accept the existence of Israel,” the ambassador reportedly said.
“It’s discouraging to see a culture that promotes terrorists as its leaders.”
Among the people featured in the exhibition are Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad), founder of the Black September organization, and Naji al-Ali, a famous Palestinian caricaturist. Both were murdered by rival Palestinian groups, not Israeli security forces. Other figures shown in the exhibition include Yasser Arafat’s deputy and the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s military wing, Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), and Dalal Mughrabi. Both al-Wazir and Mughrabi had taken part in the hijacking of an Israeli bus in 1978, which resulted in the deaths of 37 people. Al-Wazir was assassinated by Israeli commandos in his Tunis house in 1988, and Mughrabi was killed in a firefight with IDF soldiers following the bus hijacking.
While Barak himself did not call for the exhibition to be closed, he reached out to several Jewish organizations in Canada in the hopes that they would do so themselves.
On Thursday, Barak met with Ottawa’s mayor, Jim Watson, and told him that the exhibition was deliberately misleading in order to conceal the true identity of the Palestinians shown in the video as well as the reasons and the actual culprits of their assassinations.
The Ottawa city council, however, decided not to shut down the display for the time being so as not to interfere with artistic freedom. Ottawa’s deputy mayor, Steve Kaneelakos, explained that politicians should not get involved in deciding which works of art are to be displayed at the site.