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MoMA Is Accused of Anti-Israel Tilt on Documentary Film Series (NEW YORK SUN) BY JACOB GERSHMAN - Staff Reporter of the Sun 01/31/05)Source: http://www.nysun.com/article/8452 NEW YORK SUN NEW YORK SUN Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Israel´s alleged repression of Palestinian Arabs has emerged as a major theme of an upcoming exhibition of documentary films at the Museum of Modern Art. The lineup features four films that blame Israel for the suffering of Arabs living in Israel and those living in the occupied territories.

Organizers of the exhibition at MoMA, which runs from February 10 to 28, said the purpose of the documentary film series is to highlight provocative issues around the globe. Critics of the museum said they are alarmed that all of the exhibition´s films concerning the conflict in the Middle East take a starkly anti-Israel stance.

"We thought it was so one-sided," the executive director of the Boston based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Andrea Levin, said. "At the very least, they should add some other documentaries. If they want to give a completely distorted picture - if that´s their intention - then they´re doing it."

The organizer of the annual exhibition, Sally Berger, refused to comment to The New York Sun and directed inquiries about the event to a MoMA publicist, who was unavailable for comment yesterday.

One of the films scheduled for screening, "Forbidden to Wander," tells the story of a 25-year-old Arab-American Christian woman, Susan Youssef, who travels throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2002.

While escaping from an Israeli attack on Gaza City, she is rescued by a Palestinian man, with whom she becomes romantically involved, according to the film´s Web site.

"Forbidden to Wander" depicts Israelis as seen through the eyes of average Palestinians, as soldiers in tanks enforcing the curfew, glimpsed through half-shut window panes and resisted for the sake of normalcy (so that children can play, even if it is at dusk) as much as for political reasons," a description of the film on the Web site states.

"World protest against the current US ´War on Terrorism´ suggests that "Forbidden to Wander" not only must be seen, but that an audience already exists that would eagerly embrace a more complex representation of Palestinian experiences."

Another film, "Paradise Lost," directed by an Arab Israeli, Ebtisam Mara´ana, explores the life of a Palestinian woman living in an Arab Israeli fishing village who, in the 1970s as a Palestine Liberation Organization activist, "became a role model for many young women," the Web site of the film´s distributor, Women Make Movies, says.

Another documentary scheduled for screening is "Still Life," a 15- minute film directed by Cynthia Madansky. In it, "landscapes in the Palestinian territories, reduced to rubble, reveal the destructive effects of occupation," the description of the film appearing on MoMA´s exhibition Web site says.

The 17-minute "Detail" by an Israeli filmmaker, Avi Mograbi, shows in part the plight of a Palestinian family unable to transport a sick child to a hospital because of an Israeli roadblock. The film was also shown last month at an Amnesty International film festival in Seattle. According to MoMA´s Web site, the film features "three scenes from the occupied Palestinian territories" that "expose how border controls incite confrontation."

Opposition to MoMA´s documentary exhibition is reminiscent of the brouhaha surrounding Boston´s Institute of Contemporary Art in 1991 when it sponsored a Palestinian film festival. That event was ultimately canceled, but not before the vice president of the institute, Steven Grossman, resigned, reportedly to protest the exclusion of a pro-Israel view.

The MoMA exhibition includes a total of 44 films, according to a schedule, including several others that are against American foreign policy. Another Israeli film, "Purity," offers a "rare look into the world of religious Jewish married life," the MoMA Web site states. (© 2005 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC. 01/31/05)

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