Protesters from Exeter Palestine Solidarity Campaign gathered outside the opening of the “Forest Tunes” art exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in the Natural World on Sunday. The protesters objected to the exhibition being funded by the Israeli Government.
The protest follows a campaign to ask the Arts Centre to either return the funding or to issue a statement distancing itself from Israeli Government policies towards the Palestinians. The Arts Centre refused to do this despite repeated requests and a large number of letters and emails.
The eco-artist Shai Zakai who staged the exhibition also refused to distance herself from the Israeli Government. She has previously officially represented the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs at international forums.
James Matthews, an artist who was supporting the protest said
“Following a talk from the artist there was a Question and Answer session. However Shai Zakai refused to answer my questions about the environmental destruction that Israel has inflicted on the Palestinians, saying it was not relevant to her work.”
Lizi Allnatt of Exeter PSC said
“Both the Centre and the artists Shai Zakai say that they are apolitical and somehow above politics. Yet they are happy to be funded by a Government that is guilty of war crimes in Gaza. Shai Zakai herself has of course represented the Israeli Government in the past – her pretence that she is not political is transparent.
We were pleased that our silent dignified protest had an impact - many passers by expressed their support for our stand”
Local teacher Mike Gurney said
“20 years ago people campaigned against what the South African Government was doing to its black population with the apartheid system. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said that what Israel is doing to the Palestinians is even worse than the horrors of apartheid and that Israel should be boycotted”