The Israel lobby has effectively managed to shut down a Turner prize-nominated investigative group whose digital models of crime scenes have been cited as evidence at the international criminal court.
Following pressure from UK Lawyers For Israel (UKLFI), Manchester University decided to remove a statement of solidarity with Palestine, issued by exhibitors, at its Whitworth gallery. The exhibition, created by ‘Forensic Architecture’ (a Turner prize-nominated investigative group of architects, archaeologists and journalists whose digital models of crime scenes have been cited as evidence at the international criminal court), included the following statement… “Forensic Architecture stands with Palestine… We believe this liberation struggle is inseparable from other global struggles against racism, white supremacy, antisemitism, and settler colonial violence and we acknowledge its particularly close entanglement with the Black liberation struggle around the world.”
In response, Forensic Architecture’s director, Eyal Weizman, a British-Israeli professor at Goldsmiths, demanded the exhibition, which looked at how pollution, chemical attacks and the aftermath of explosions affected marginalised people, be closed… “As our work seems to have been compromised despite our strong objections, we demand that our exhibition is closed with immediate effect”
The exhibition included a study on the use of teargas and white phosphorus in Palestine, as well as chemical warfare in Syria, teargas against protesters in Chile, man made forest fires in Papua and environmental racism in Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley’
‘Forensic Architecture’ have produced forensic digital models that have been particularly damning for Israel, which might be one reason why they now find themselves in the firing line of the Israel lobby. For example, they recently produced a report on the extent to which the Pegasus malware software, produced by an Israeli cyber surveillance company, had been used by governments worldwide to infect the phones of activists, journalists and human rights defenders.
Back in October 2020, Forensic Architecture also produced a forensic digital model to show how a female Palestinian medic, Rouzan al-Najjar, was shot and killed by an Israeli army sniper.
Forensic Architecture have also worked with BTSELEM to produce an eye opening online exhibition mapping out Israel’s violent and undemocratic occupation of Palestine since 1967.
As Ken Loach recently observed, the Israel lobby has mounted a very effective “dirty tricks” campaign in this country. Speaking to Lowkey, Loach explains that Israel will do what ever they can to try and destroy any solidarity with the Palestinian cause and to shut down any debate on Israel’s human rights abuses or on its vile apartheid system. Clearly, for the Israel lobby, all pro-Palestinian voices, even those of highly credible, professional, Turner prize-nominated, forensic investigative groups are, therefore, targets that must be shut down.
UPDATE: 18th August 2021 : 20.11pm
Palestinian Solidarity statement reinstated! Manchester University has back tracked and allowed the Palestinian solidarity statement to remain in Forensic Architecture’s Cloud Studies exhibition at its Whitworth gallery.
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