Photographs Khaled Abu Toameh
Well, there’s no one who can understand this any more.
The Yasser Arafat Foundation announced on Monday the removal of the cartoons from an exhibition it had organised in Ramallah. The exhibition, entitled “Palestine and Yasser Arafat”, was inaugurated on Sunday by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Ishtayeh in the Yasser Arafat Museum.
The exhibition featured 104 artists from some 43 countries with 350 works and was described as a show of “solidarity with Palestine and the roots of Arafat’s memory in the international community”.
The works represent the artists’ interpretation of Yasser Arafat “not the reality of who he was”, the curators said, by all accounts The New Arab.
But Palestinians, including some politicians, felt that some of the cartoons were “insulting” to Yasser Arafat and his memory.
Nasser Al-Qudwah, former chairman of the Yasser Arafat Foundation and head of an opposition coalition, wrote on Facebook that “the exhibition lacked judgement and honesty in depicting Yasser Arafat”
Hossam Badran, a Hamas spokesman, said: “This insult to Arafat from the centre of Ramallah and under official promotion [by the Palestinian Authority] is an even bigger mistake”.
The Fatah movement, the party that led Arafat for 40 years, also condemned the exhibition.
According to The New Arab, a statement said:“The insult to Yasser Arafat is an insult to the entire Palestinian people. We therefore call on the Yasser Arafat Foundation to remove all insulting works and apologise, or we will have to remove them ourselves”.
The Palestinian cartoonist, Mohammad Sabaanah the Palestinian cartoonist, told The New Arab that: “The exhibition was supposed to be a tribute to international artists who have supported Palestine through their work, but some Palestinian artists were excluded and there is no explanation other than their political views”
The foundation had assigned a number of experts to evaluate the works before they were exhibited.
“However, when I found out that some prominent artists were not invited to participate, I doubted the criteria of the exhibition and withdrew from it, even though I was invited,” Sabaanah said.
“There was a clear mix between political caricature and caricature portraiture, which is basically a satirical depiction of a personality.”
“Obviously, the entries were going to include satirical depictions of Arafat, displayed in the museum dedicated to his memory, which is what angered the public.”
On Monday night, the Yasser Arafat Foundation said in a statement, “What has been exhibited does not insult the personality or symbolism of Yasser Arafat (…) the artists represented Arafat from their own artistic and cultural perspectives.”
“The museum is also very interested in preserving Yasser Arafat’s image, biography and legacy. The exhibition was not intended to offend his personality and symbolism, but the art of caricature is controversial and creative. However, we have reviewed all the drawings and removed those that have not been accepted by the Palestinian public.
Humour in trouble, a collection of cases (III)
Cases of cartoonists who have had problems of some importance because of their cartoons or satirical illustrations. There are also some stories of other people who, without being cartoonists, have got into trouble for sharing them.