An exhibit of photographs depicting residents of Jerusalem’s Old City by Israeli photographer Dmitry Brickman has been nixed by the Uzbek government because its title includes the word “Jerusalem.”
The exhibit of 120 photographs, which show the broad spectrum of religious and cultural heritages represented in the city, has toured the world, going on display in Russia and the neighboring Muslim nation of Kazakhstan.
But when the Israeli embassy invited Brickman to bring the exhibit to the Uzbek capital Tashkent in early 2018, things got complicated, the Ynet news site reported Thursday.
The exhibit was to be displayed in a hall at the interior ministry in Tashkent and was initially approved by diplomatic officials.
But then the Uzbek foreign ministry announced it would not allow the exhibit to go up, citing its title, “Jerusalem is not just a city.”
No Israel-sponsored event could have “Jerusalem” in its title, Uzbek officials explained, because of what they called the controversial nature of Israeli claims to the city, especially following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of it as Israel’s capital in December 2017.
Brickman kept silent for the past year and a half as Israeli diplomats, led by the ambassador to Tashkent, Edward Shapira, tried to convince the government to reverse course.
But in recent days, Israeli officials informed Brickman that the Uzbek government’s decision could not be overturned, he told Ynet.
“They told me the exhibit would only go on if I changed the title [to remove the reference to Jerusalem]. I’m not willing to do that under any circumstances — so the exhibit won’t be shown in Uzbekistan,” Brickman said.
The photographer said he was “angry” that “someone can tell the State of Israel not to use the word Jerusalem. This is an exhibit about peace that encourages tolerance and coexistence. Everywhere I have presented the exhibit I have given lectures on Jerusalem and emphasized how much respect there is [in Jerusalem’s Old City] for the faithful of the three religions, and how much everyone works to protect this amazing place, which is a single square kilometer in size.”
An Uzbek foreign ministry official told Ynet that the decision does not reflect any negative stance toward Israel, but only the fact that Trump’s 2017 recognition caused tensions over the issue in the Muslim world, which, the official said, Uzbekistan was not interested in stoking.