As promised, the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) presented “A Child’s View From Gaza” on the scheduled opening date, September 24, 2011. The art exhibit opened in the courtyard outside of the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland to a tremendous crowd of supporters. More than 500 men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds came to celebrate the artistic expression of Palestinian children in Gaza. WATCH VIDEO
All of us at MECA would like to extend our deepest thanks to the many friends and people of conscience who took a stand against the pro-Israel groups that use their enormous financial resources to silence Palestinian voices. Since MOCHA succumbed to the pressure of these organizations and announced its cancellation of the art exhibit, MECA has received an outpouring of support from around the world. Hundreds of letters were sent; petitions were signed; and protesters gathered outside of MOCHA all with a clear message: the censorship of children will NOT be tolerated! We are especially thankful to those of you who have offered to host the exhibit in support of the children artists.
In the courtyard on Saturday, supporters carried enlarged prints of the original drawings stamped with the word “Censored”. Shortly after, MECA announced that due to the overwhelming support from the community, a venue for the art had been secured. The crowd then marched toward a retail space where MECA unveiled the full, uncensored art exhibit that the Museum Board of Directors cancelled just two weeks prior to the opening.
The new space is located just around the corner from MOCHA at 917 Washington Street and had been leased by MECA just one day earlier.
Hours after MECA’s Executive Director Barbara Lubin signed the lease to the new venue and the last drawing was hung up on the wall, MOCHA Board Member Randolph Belle called Friday afternoon requesting to meet with MECA about hosting a “modified version” of the exhibit. This was less than 24 hours before the scheduled opening and while community members were gathering outside of MOCHA to protest its censorship of Palestinian children’s art.
We at MECA made a commitment to the children of Gaza to share their experiences and perspectives, and consider any modifications to the art exhibit as a form of censorship. Children everywhere deserve to be heard, but we have an even greater responsibility to listen to the stories of children under siege and who survived Israel’s brutal military assault in 2008-2009. Much of the artwork featured in the exhibit originated from MECA’s psychosocial program called “Let the Children Play and Heal,” which uses the arts to help children cope with trauma.
MECA remains committed to the children artists and asks for your continued support of this important program. We will continue to display the artwork over the next two months, and will soon post the exhibit hours on our website. We invite teachers and educators to organize student trips to the art exhibit. For more information on hours, field trips, or how you can volunteer, please email us at email@example.com.
All of us at MECA