Red Words on Glass

While HonestReporting’s mandate is to critique traditional media ? newspaper, internet, broadcast ? at times the scope expands to include other forms of public communication.

Here’s a case. This week, the City of Melbourne, Australia sponsored this professionally-designed window display:

The red words on the glass read:

Since the creation of Israel in 1948

200,000 Palestinians have been killed
5,000,000 refugees have been created
21,000 square kilometers of land have been annexed
385 towns and villages have been destroyed
200,000 settlements have been built
300 billion military dollars have been spent
100+ WMDs have been manufactured
65 UN resolutions have been ignored

The Herald Sun verifies (under the unfortunate headline ‘Art Offends Jews’) that public funds paid for the exhibit:

A spokeswoman for the City of Melbourne said the art was part of a rotating exhibition at the Flinders St window space, called 24seven. She said the council provided $8,000 to curator Mark Hilton to fund different art in the space throughout this year.

While the singling out of democratic Israel for a publicly-funded harangue is itself outrageous, HonestReporting will focus on the numerous factual errors:

Independent analyses by SIPRI, B’Tselem, and other agencies indicate that no more than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since 1948. Meanwhile, Israel has lost 20,297 military personnel since the War of Independence.

The actual number of Arab refugees in 1949 was, according to Israeli sources, 538,000. (The UN puts the figure at 720,000.) Due primarily to neglect by Arab leaders, their descendents have reached over 4 million.

The 21,000 square kilometers of land that the exhibition claims Israel ‘annexed’ apparently refers to the actual size of Israel itself – without considering disputed territories. This is a clear indication that the ‘artist’ considers Israel’s very existence illegitimate.

‘200,000 settlements’?! Even if one includes the Golan and eastern Jerusalem, there are no more than 350 disputed settlements.

Ultimately, it’s up to Melbourne residents to decide if their public funds are to be used for political statements. However, they should not have the right to publicly promote gross factual inaccuracies.

Comments to the City of Melbourne: click here

[UPDATE 4/5/04: The exhibit has been removed. For more discussion on this, see BackSpin.]

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.



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