Renowned US art magazine speaks up on ethnic cleansing of Palestinians

Renowned US art magazine speaks up on ethnic cleansing of Palestinians
Artforum invited experts to discuss the work of the Palestinian Museum “under colonialism”.
2 min read
05 July, 2021
A woman takes a picture of a paiting during a media tour ahead of the "Jerusalem Lives" exhibition at the Palestinian Museum [Getty]

Distinguished American contemporary art magazine Artforum published a piece giving voice to Palestinian narratives on the occupation, yielding condemnation from Israeli media.

The article cited Hanan Toukan, an assistant professor in politics and Middle East studies at Bard College Berlin, referring to the recent "violent cleansing of Jerusalem's Palestinian inhabitants through dispossession of the residents of Sheikh Jarrah" as the latest indication of how much of Israel depends on the "tacit and even explicit approval of the international diplomatic community".

Artforum invited Toukan along with the director of the Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, Adila Laïdi-Hanieh, to talk about the difficulties faced by the museum to operate "under colonialism".

One of the questions that Toukan said has been at the forefront of their minds is: "To put it bluntly, can the museum survive without the building that houses it, in the event that it is physically obliterated?"

The Palestinian Museum sits in a territory where its people "are every day in the process of resisting obliteration from one of the most brutal militaries in the world", Toukan said.

Laïdi-Hanieh described the museum as a place where "every day, we try to honour the suffering and the incredible denial of dignity, the denial of justice, meted out to Palestinians. We stare this pain in the face. The oppression, the dispossession. It is hard-to-look-at material. But this is our material, and you have to face it, archive it, and show it".

Most of the Palestinian families who currently face expulsion from Sheikh Jarrah were settled there in the 1950s under a UNRWA programme after being forcibly displaced from their homes inside Israel during the 1948 creation of the state, known as Al-Nakba or "The Catastrophe".

Israeli settler organisations have laid claim to their homes with what rights groups say is a highly dubious justification that Jews lived there before 1948.

While Israeli courts have turned over Palestinian property in East Jerusalem to settlers before, Palestinians expelled from their homes in West Jerusalem and other areas within Israel's 1948 boundaries are forbidden by Israel from recovering their properties.  

Dozens of people have been injured by Israeli security forces in the area since 13 April, when protests broke out over the forced expulsions.