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London hospital removes artwork by Gaza schoolchildren following pressure from pro-Israel group

CAMPAIGNERS have described as shameful a London hospital’s decision to remove a display designed by children in Gaza following pressure from a pro-Israel group. 

Bosses at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital took down the “festival of plates” display after it received a letter from UK Lawyers for Israel suggesting possible legal action, and that some patients had complained about feeling vulnerable and victimised by the artwork. 

The art had been designed by children at two schools in Gaza and transferred onto plates by children at the Chelsea Community Hospital School. 

The caption for the display, previously on show at the entrance of the children’s outpatients’ department, read: “The olive branch is the symbol of peace and is used to express the wish for an independent Palestinian state.”

UK Lawyers for Israel, a UK-registered charity that often targets Palestinian solidarity groups, claimed that the drawings “denied the existence of Israel.” 

The hospital’s decision to remove the display has prompted anger and calls for the art to be reinstated.  

Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal said: “The hospital’s decision to remove the art produced by children under siege in Gaza is shameful, regardless of the pressure to which they felt subject. 

“They have treated a notorious lobbying organisation with a track record of seeking to silence the voices of Palestinians via false narratives of anti-semitism as a legitimate complainant. 

“By doing so, they made themselves complicit in an appalling act of censorship which dehumanises the children in Gaza and Palestinians more widely. They need to acknowledge their error and reinstate the artwork immediately.”

The hospital said in a statement: “We are sorry that the removal of this artwork has offended some communities and that its contents offended other communities.”

 

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