Beirut Photojournalism Exhibit Closed Over Israeli Presence

I gotta hand it to World Press Photo for showing backbone in the face of Arab pressure. When Lebanese officials demanded that Israeli photographer Amit Sha’al’s work be removed from the Beirut exhibit, WPP chose instead to close it down early.

The World Press Photo exhibit features prize-winning images from its 2010 contest. Sha’al’s photos took 3rd prize for Arts and Entertainment for a clever series of “then and now” pictures taken around Israel, which he explains on his website.

According to the Jerusalem Post:

World Press Photo managing director Michiel Munneke said on Sunday that “the integrity of our exhibition was at stake.

Removing any prizewinning photos would come down to censorship, which for us is not acceptable. In this instance, closing the exhibition was the only way we could remain true to our principle of promoting freedom of information.

And Sha’al? He’s taking the controversy in stride:

“Any Lebanese person can go on the Internet today and look what all the fuss is about. Hopefully they will,” he told The Associated Press in Jerusalem.

By the way, the contest’s grand prize was for a very powerful photo that made the cover of Time magazine last August: a young woman mutilated by the Taliban. I blogged my praise for the photo and the way Time handled it — in contrast to the unscrupulous use of news imagery by the foreign press corps in Israel.

I’m gratified to see Jodi Bieber’s  image get the recognition it deserves.

It’s a shame that Lebanese photographers won’t get to see Sha’al or Bieber’s work in Beirut. After all, Lebanon’s the place that brought fauxtography to the world’s lexicon.

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