European Jewish Congress
Leading London arts centre accused of showing antisemitic film in sci-fi season
United Kingdom
Leading London arts centre accused of showing antisemitic film in sci-fi season

The head of the UK’s leading Jewish organisation has accused London’s Barbican arts centre of showing an antisemitic film, which she claims is “blatant propaganda about the Israel-Palestine conflict” masquerading as science fiction.

Gillian Merron, the chief executive of the Board of Deputies, the UK’s EJC affiliate and the umbrella organisation representing British Jews, called on the London arts centre to remove the film In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain from the exhibition Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction.

The film by a Palestinian artist, Larissa Sansour, and a Danish author, Søren Lind, which combines live action, computer-generated imagery and historical photographs, is described in the exhibition as telling “the story of a fictional ‘narrative resistance’ group which attempts to implant the existence of a fictional civilisation in history by burying fragments of pottery in the ground”.

In a letter to Sandeep Dwesar, the chief operating and financial officer of the Barbican, Merron wrote: “While the Barbican synopsis casts the film as a sci-fi feature about fictitious technologically advanced aliens who land in an area to implant a ‘false history’, I understand that the film is clearly filmed in Israel and that the dialogue is in Arabic and purports to show the ‘aliens’ seeding the land with porcelain in an effort to create the ‘false’ impression that they have a historical connection to it. »

Requesting its removal from the exhibition, Merron said: “It is therefore not much of a stretch to suggest that the film is a means by which to deny the historical Jewish connection to Israel and an exercise in delegitimisation. Accusing Jews of falsifying our connection to Israel smacks of antisemitism and is of grave concern.”

In reply, Dwesar said: “The short film has been programmed for its poetical vision before anything else. ... Having spoken to the curator and the artists, the intention is that the symbolic visual language in the film speaks of history and tradition, yet it cannot necessarily be placed in any distinct or quantifiable time period.”

But Merron said: “This is blatant propaganda, hiding behind the facade of a science fiction exhibition. It is deeply disappointing that an institution like the Barbican refuses to respond to the very real concerns of members of the community.”

The board’s complaint came after they were alerted to the film by a member of the Jewish community who saw it at the Barbican.

In a statement on her Facebook account, Sansour said she and Lind were “deeply troubled to see the Barbican accused ... of antisemitism for showing our film”.

She wrote: “Although our film makes an effort to avoid direct references to Israel – in a deliberate attempt not to limit its implications to a singular context – the film’s symbolism, its dialogue spoken in Palestinian Arabic and its topic matter certainly do situate it firmly within an Israeli/Palestinian framework.”

Click here to read the full article in The Guardian

Monday, August 28, 2017
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President's Page Security and Crisis Centre by EJC European Parliament Working Group On Antisemitism