Under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority, an art exhibit mashing-up Biblical images by European masters with contemporary photos of Palestinians suffering under Israeli occupation has been especially prepared for next week’s visit to the region by Pope Francis, it was reported on Thursday.
The Palestinian Museum — an institution scheduled to open in Birzeit in 2015 — presents images of Jesus as a modern Palestinian, according to a Palestinian Media Watch report. It reinforces the “PA message [that] that Palestinians suffer as Jesus did” and by “claiming he was not a Judean as in Christian tradition, but rather a Palestinian,” the PA therefore claims “a Palestinian history dating back to the time of Jesus.”
Among other images, a modified painting by Raphael, “The Deposition”(1507), shows Jesus being carried to his tomb after the Crucifixion, but the PA version superimposes a photo of a Palestinian with bloody legs being carried as an IDF soldier looks on.
Another altered painting, Rembrandt’s “The Sacrifice of Isaac” (1635), shows an IDF soldier holding the face of Isaac preparing to cut his throat, instead of Abraham. Yet another shows Murillo’s “Christ healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda” (1670) superimposed against a background of the security barrier constructed by Israel.
According to a report in official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the images will be displayed in the courtyard of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during Pope Francis’ visit, in order to “expose Palestinian suffering caused by Israel.”
The photographs of Palestinians used with the classical paintings were provided by UNRWA, according to the paper. According to PMW, the project was initiated by the Presidential Higher Committee for Church Affairs, which was created at the direct request of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.