Munich Jewish Museum hosts anti-Semitic exhibit

“The exhibition “makes use of popular anti-Semitic imagery, common among Germans who don’t necessarily know the reality in Israel,” noted a non-Jewish museum employee. “This is incitement.” 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Jewish Museum in Munich has come under fire for an exhibit by Afghani-American photographer Fazal Sheikh, which critics charge is anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.

The display, running May 29, 2019-February 23, 2020. includes pictures of the Negev taken by over a dozen artists with accompanying texts that slam the way Israel allegedly mistreats the Bedouin population in the region.

According to the wording next to one set of photographs, “The violent and devastating effects of Israel’s settlement and cultivation policy in the Negev (Arabic: Naqab) towards the local Bedouin population are made evident in Fazal Sheikh’s Desert Bloom series (2011).”

The main mission of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) for over a century has been to buy and develop land in present-day Israel. It has planted over 240 million trees, built 180 dams and reservoirs, established more than 1,000 parks and developed 250,000 acres of land since 1901. The organization’s Israel arm reacted by calling the texts “libelous.”

“The museum is becoming part of a system that has made it a goal to cause damage to the oldest Israeli environmental organization,” the JNF told Israel Hayom, the paper reported on Friday.

“The exhibit presents claims that border on libel. The JNF never destroyed communities or carried out any actions like that. The accusation that the JNF assists in the militarization of Israel is a pure insult. We take care of water sources, forestation, and the development of an ecological approach to nature,” the JNF stated.

One of the stated purposes of the display, called “Say Shibboleth!” is to examine borders “around … occupied territories,” among other places, and the text makes its anti-Israeli position clear: “The alteration of the land through militarization, industrialization, settlement and afforestation demonstrates just how unnatural a ‘natural’ border can be.”

Jaffa Flohr, the president of JNF Germany, called the exhibit “intolerable,” saying the museum is becoming an “arm of one-sided incitement against JNF and the State of Israel,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported.

“A German museum supported unfounded attacks against JNF, and when this is a so-called Jewish museum, and a respectable one, it makes this even more painful,” she stated.

A non-Jewish museum employee told Israel Hayom that “the wording of this exhibition is aggressive and makes use of popular anti-Semitic imagery, common among Germans who don’t necessarily know the reality in Israel. This isn’t criticism, this is incitement.”

This is the second time in recent months that a Jewish museum in Germany is being accused of anti-Semitic actions. The director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum resigned after the institution tweeted a link to a story promoting BDS, which followed the hosting of different events with anti-Israeli Iranians and a well-known anti-Zionist professor.

Both Jewish museums are run not by the Jewish community, but by the German government.