Like all good things, this article started with an innocent press release from the U.S. State Department:
“The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the American Alliance of Museums, announced on Wednesday the selection of 11 new projects as part of the Museums Connect program. Museums Connect links U.S. communities with communities around the world through innovative, museum-based exchanges that foster mutual understanding while focusing on important topics like climate change, women’s empowerment, disability awareness, and civic engagement.”
So far, so good.
The projects, according to the note from my government, pair cultural institutions in the United States with partners from 11 international locales and involve community members, particularly youth, to reach beyond institutional walls.
Also good. Who wouldn’t want youth to reach beyond those institutional walls (especially if they’re well medicated).
The awardees of special attention from our Sate Dept. include a program called “Citizenship Unbound: Flag Stories,” uniting the Islamic Art Museum of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco, CA, a kind of community-centered museum.
The program “Common Ground: Connecting Communities through Gardens,” unites this summer the Egyptian Agricultural Museum, Giza, Egypt, with Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum, King City, CA. Sounds a little lopsided – farming in California together with ancient pyramids, but, hey, whatever fuels your tractor.
There are more, similarly “unique” programs in that press release, and then it becomes even more interesting.
A program called “Design Diaries International” puts together the Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul, MN—a fine institution, established in 1849 to tell the story of Minnesota’s past, using the power of history to transform lives—with this other fine institution: the Palestinian Heritage Museum, East Jerusalem, Palestinian Territories.
You see? There goes Secretary of State John Kerry, schlepping around the Near-East trying to promote some compromise over the future of East Jerusalem, with both sides in the conflict holding fast to their demands that it’s a deal breaker – Jews cannot live without the City of David, site of two holy temples, the focus of Jewish aspirations for thousands of years, and Muslims must have that area where Mohammed’s horse possibly flew into heaven – when back at home the good people in his employ have already resolved the problem.
According to our State Dept., East Jerusalem is an inseparable part of the Palestinian Territories. End of discussion. Somebody should tell Bibi, I suppose, but, otherwise, we’re done here.
The Palestinian Heritage Museum resides in the girls’ orphanage Dar al-Tifel al-Arabi, on Abu Obeidah Bin Jarrah Steet in Jerusalem. A May 17, 2012 WAFA story announced that the Palestinian Heritage Museum at Dar al-Tifel al-Arabi in East Jerusalem reopened in ceremonies attended by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the Assessor for Cooperation at the Italian Province of Pisa, Silvia Pagnin.
With an overall budget of 400,000 euros, the museum “intends to preserve and empower the Palestinian cultural and identity heritage and to train and retrain the museum’s staff.”
According to the Palestinian Visitor Information Center, the museum “displays traditional Palestinian clothing and jewelry previously unseen by the public and will provide courses on the conservation and restoration of antique textiles, jewelry and manuscripts.”
The museum’s other official name is “Empowering Dar al-Tifel Museum and Dar Isaaf al-Nashashibi” project.
In other words, they’re renting space from the girls’ orphanage, they put together a staff and they’re paying them to “train and retrain” with the Italian taxpayer’s hard earned money. Otherwise, it looks like nothing more than an address on which to pin the provocative address “East Jerusalem, Palestinian Territories.”
An EU press release dated July 3, 2013, announced that “The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed on Tuesday a €2.4 million agreement with Al-Quds University aimed at the preservation of Palestinian cultural heritage in Jerusalem’s Old City.”
Among other things, “The program will contribute to the development and protection of Palestinian cultural heritage in the old city of Jerusalem, in addition to the improvement of socioeconomic conditions of its citizens through quality housing and tourism services,” the press release said.
So, the EU and the UN drum up this cockamamie plan, at around two and a half million bucks, to develop and protect Palestinian heritage (like it’s under attack), and our own State Dept. bolsters the same effort by pairing this theoretical museum with a very real one, in Minnesota.