Arab art gallery is planned

By Jessica Elgot, June 2, 2011
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An Israeli-Arab museum director has called on British Jews to help him with a four-year £18m plan to build the first Arab museum of modern art in the Middle East.

Said Abu Shakra, a former Israeli police officer, founded the Um al-Fahm gallery in the Arab town in the north of Israel in 1996. It drew international media attention after securing an exhibition by Yoko Ono in 1999.

The gallery was originally just a 100 metre space, but now Mr Shakra and a team of three Israeli Jewish architects have designed a new 10,000 square metre museum of modern art, which will include an archive of 500 photographs and 250 testimonies of Palestinian elders.

The town, which has 50,000 inhabitants, has sometimes been described as a hotbed of Islamic extremism. But Mr Shakra said the gallery had become a beacon of tolerance, as both Arab and Jewish families visited the exhibitions and attended workshops there.

At a briefing organised in London by the UK Israeli Arab Taskforce, he addressed representatives from the Board of Deputies, including president Vivian Wineman, and other organisations including UJIA, New Israel Fund, Pears Foundation, synagogues and the Jewish Museum.

Last updated: 12:14pm, June 2 2011