Gaza images 'cast Israel in wrong light'

By Marcus Dysch, January 27, 2011

An exhibition featuring graphic images from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been accused of "fanning the flames of antisemitism".

Kai Wiedenhöfer's The Book of Destruction - named after an article about a list of Gaza's damaged buildings - shows Palestinians who were severely injured during Operation Cast Lead.

There are photos of people who lost limbs, as well as buildings flattened in the Gaza Strip, but none of Israelis or damage from Hamas rocket fire.

Mr Wiedenhöfer has photographed the conflict for more than 20 years. The images in his new exhibition, which opens today, were taken in Gaza in November 2009.

The exhibition was condemned by the Council of French Jewish Organisations (CRIF) when it went on show in France last November.

CRIF accused Mr Wiedenhöfer of "virulently anti-Israel" propaganda and two men in ski masks and motorbike helmets attempted to storm the Paris museum and damage exhibits.

Board of Deputies chief executive Jon Benjamin said: "No one in their right mind denies the pain and suffering of the subjects in these photographs. But just as these images represent a reality in Gaza, a parallel reality exists for innocent Israelis who live in constant fear of rocket attacks.

"By choosing to portray only one side of this conflict and without contextualising it, Mr Wiedenhöfer cannot be surprised if he is accused of bias, partiality and of fanning the flames of antisemitism."

A spokesman for Mr Wiedenhöfer said the artist denied the work was antisemitic or designed to delegitimise Israel. "Kai is surprised that these groups have passed judgment on an exhibition they have not seen and respectfully invites them to come in person to see the work."

In an interview with The Observer, Mr Wiedenhöfer said: "I wanted to make a record. That's all. I do not accuse Israel. If there is an accusation, it is in the record itself."

The Book of Destruction is at the Mosaic Rooms, London SW5, until February 12.

Last updated: 3:35pm, January 27 2011