Rehab Nazzal’s exhibit “Invisible” and the City of Ottawa have been the target of a smear campaign by the Israeli embassy and certain conservative Jewish organizations. Independent Jewish Voices – Canada (IJV)—a human rights organization that supports a just peace in Israel and Palestine based on the application of international law and support for the human rights of all parties— strongly condemns these attacks.
“Invisible” is an artistic response to Israel’s violent behavior towards the Palestinians, including its inhumane treatment of Palestinian political prisoners, its policy of extra-judicial assassination of Palestinians, and its ongoing military occupation of Palestine. Ms. Nazzal, the artist, has experienced life under Israeli military occupation first hand.
IJV strongly supports the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the values that it espouses. As a Canadian citizen, Rehab Nazzal has the right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to express herself artistically.
“Invisible” was selected by an independent jury of artists, under an arms-length process that selects art for display at the City of Ottawa’s Karsh-Masson Gallery based solely on the merit of the work. IJV supports this process.
The Jewish Federation of Ottawa (JFO) and its advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), have put pressure on the City of Ottawa to remove the exhibit. Along with the Israeli embassy, the JFO and CIJA claim that the exhibit “glorifies terrorism.” The exhibit does no such thing. Out of the hundreds of faces of Palestinians shown in the exhibit—none of which is praised or endorsed by the artist—the Israeli embassy and its lobbying groups in Ottawa have focused on a select few, claiming that the exhibit is “glorifying” them. The point of this tactic is to deliberately mislead the public and take attention away from the content of the exhibit itself.
This is a familiar tactic of Israel lobby groups in Canada and world-wide. Increasingly fearful of the growing tide of international support for Palestinian human rights, they attempt to silence and even to criminalize this principled support. They attack as “anti-Semitic” those outside of the Jewish community who speak out, such as the United Church of Canada, university professors and students, unions, and human rights groups, seeking to discourage them from taking principled positions in support of equal rights for both Israeli Jews and Palestinians. They even attack and censor the voices of Jews from Canada’s diverse Jewish communities. IJV supports open dialogue, and we reject the bullying tactics of the Israeli state and its lobby groups such as CIJA and the Jewish Federation.
IJV commends the City of Ottawa for standing firm in supporting Ms. Nazzal’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its own arms-length, politically independent decision-making process for the Karsh-Masson Gallery in City Hall. We encourage all who cherish our Charter of Rights and Freedoms to support the City of Ottawa and its principled position.