Monday, May 15, 2006

The Brandeis Controversy

"Samah al-Azza, 13, created this painting for an exhibit at Brandeis that was later removed."

I haven't really followed the Brandeis affair and I haven't seen all of the paintings, but this one doesn't look so innocent. As a Jew, I find that snake curled up in the form of a star of David offensive. I wouldn't object to these types of paintings being shown, but I would certainly want it to be in some kind of framework, with a variety of critical perspectives offered. Otherwise, there is the risk that these paintings will be seen as innocent, "natural" responses of Palestinian children to Jewish/Israeli "oppression". In fact, they are anything but innocent expressions of "victimhood". These kids are part of a political struggle, and they know it very well. In this picture, the teenager who drew it used an graphic vocabulary/esthetic that she knew would get social approval.


Derek said...

Absolutely, John. I think that these paintings show how ingrained the political movement is within the conciousness and pride of the Palestinians. It defines them such that it's a source of pride and identity for budding adolescents and even children, who are eager to gain acceptance to a group (and a romantic one at that), which is greater than themselves. Even the kids know it. In America Black children know that they are "Black" and all that they are taught to believe that entails. I've seen 12 year old girls say things to me like "Yeah, we're BLACK, do you have a problem with that??" as their identity has been built up strongly by their peers, media, parents, as well as a lot of white people.

Amos said...

It's good that someone (John) actually investigates these kinds of things. Otherwise I'd still be complaining about censorship. Yah, I want to burn that picture, if possible in front of the kid, and explain to him why it's WRONG.