Bid to ban Gaza kids tour from schools
Child’s view: buildings and bombs
Community leaders are battling to stop an exhibition of paintings by children from Gaza being shown in schools in the North of England.
Campaigners say they have no objection to the paintings, but have reacted with anger at a series of talks given to accompany them.
Property developer Rod Cox, 62, masterminded the exhibition after visiting Gaza where children gave him paintings depicting their view of life there. Some show scenes of devastation.
The exhibition, Loss Of Innocence, has been on tour since September, visiting universities, town halls and, most recently, Manchester Cathedral. It was taken to a Quaker venue in Marple, Stockport, on Monday evening and plans are under way to take it to schools in the north west.
Manchester Rep Council President Lucille Cohen said: "Rod Cox is disseminating hatred. His talk and text accompanying his exhibition either indirectly implied or overtly conveyed a number of unsubstantiated assumptions about Israel. I am astounded that Christians of good will would seem willing to become a party to this."
Zionist Federation co-president Joy Wolfe said: "If the pictures had been allowed to speak for themselves most people, myself included, would have found little reason to criticise the concept of the exhibition. But they weren't. They were accompanied by Rod Cox's captions which demonised Israel and invented some truly remarkable allegations."
Among those were that the Israeli army had a weapon that would shoot through windows and blow off people's limbs. He is said to have told an audience that some of the children's pictures depicted Israeli soldiers trampling children underfoot and using unmanned aircraft to kill people.
Mr Cox later stood by his claims citing a weapon called a DIME (dense inert metal explosive) about which he had been told by a French doctors in Gaza.
"It's a fragmentation bomb, packed with tiny fragments that burn through flesh and will go through a joint, so a limb will fall off," he said. "Some of the pictures show limbs removed and decapitated bodies."
On soldiers trampling children, he said there was a painting showing an Israeli soldier standing astride 12 bodies. He added: "The girl who painted it told me they were not dead bodies but people who were alive. That was what it felt like to them.
"I explained to the people on Monday night that some pictures represented reality. They were like photos of events as they happened, live action battle scenes – while others represented feelings.
"This group of people were not representative of Jewish people I know. They were not interested in listening."