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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

After my articles about the Guggenheim Museum's blog post that was filled with lies and half-truths about Israel, and its hypocrisy at claiming Israel is engaging in censorship of art while it is building a museum in Abu Dhabi which explicitly does censor art, the Algemeiner asked the museum for a statement.

In response to The Algemeiner’s request for clarification as to why the Guggenheim would promote on its website an article demonizing Israel, a spokesman for the museum said, “As an arts institution, the Guggenheim welcomes a multitude of voices and perspectives on topics of interest to the wider artistic and cultural community. The views expressed are those of the writer, a curator who lives and works in Israel, not necessarily those of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.”

This is a cop-out. Editors in any medium, whether it is a newspaper or a blog or a museum's website, chooses what content it decides to publish and what to exclude. But in all cases, it is the responsibility of the editors to ensure that the pieces are accurate. In this case, the Guggenheim was completely wrong to publish an article that calls withholding of funds to artists who are free to show their art anywhere to be "censorship."

In the case of the Guggenheim website, there are a number of articles praising Arab art, but none about Arab censorship of art. In fact, very few articles even mention censorship worldwide, let alone use the word in their title. One tangentially mentioned self-censorship in Vietmanese art, for example. Only Israel has an article dedicated to its supposed censorship of art.

If the Guggenheim cared about free expression so much, it would write about censorship in the UAE and how it will inform what kinds of shows they will show there. That is a relevant topic that they wouldn't touch. So much for the "multitude of voices and perspectives" that the museum claims to give its readers.

Meanwhile, as the Algemeiner mentioned, former ADL director Abraham Foxman commented on the Guggenheim:

Foxman told The Algemeiner he was “surprised” that the Guggenheim “would permit itself to be used for such blatant anti-Israel propaganda. This article goes beyond the discussion of art, its political. It’s inappropriate and ill-advised. If the Guggenheim wants to make their website a place to discuss censorship, I can give them a list of 25 countries they should start with and not Israel.”

Foxman said that if the Guggenheim “wants to become a platform to discuss art and censorship, this is legitimate. However, to the best of my knowledge, Tamir’s article seems to be the only one about Israel, which is a blatant distortion on what is happening in Israel.”




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