Cardiff Kills Exhibition of Jews, Muslims, Christians Playing Together Because It Was Shot in IsraelFriday, September 4th, 2015
(JNi.media) The Cardiff Council Cancelled the Photo Exhibition “Jewish-Arab football: diversity and coexistence through lower-league football,” planned in celebration of a soccer match between Wales and Israel on Sunday, because the photos had been shot in Israel.
But a spokesperson for Cardiff Council stated that the exhibition had been closed less than 24 hours after it had opened — “following a complaint.”
“The Council is aware there are protests planned around the Wales Israel game at the weekend and this was taken into consideration,” the spokesperson said, adding that while “our libraries are buildings which promote free speech,” nevertheless “it was felt that running this exhibition could lead visitors to suppose that the Council was displaying bias.”
The project, created by photographers Gad Salner and Vadim Tarasov, focuses on lower-league football throughout Israel, emphasizing how Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities come together through the beautiful game.
The exhibition’s alleged “bias” was expressed in its intro: “From forgotten Arab villages in the north to dusty Jewish neighborhoods in the south, we visit places where the seemingly ever-present tension between cultures evaporates, and where diversity is embraced, encouraged and celebrated. The exhibition puts more emphasis on the human, urban and cultural landscapes of our divided and diverse society, and less on the pitch action itself.”
One of the subjects is the Betar Nordia Football Club in Jerusalem, a small, fan-owned club that promotes diversity and sportsmanship, while opposing violence and racism in football. The club’s Jewish participants play alongside their Arab Muslim and Christian colleagues.
The Israeli Embassy in London has condemned the Cardiff council decision as “outrageous,” and a spokesman for the Embassy said: “This is a boycott against peace and coexistence, in line with the destructive and belligerent aims of the movement to delegitimize Israel. Removing an exhibition showing how football promotes friendship between people of different backgrounds in Israel turns a celebration of coexistence into an ugly politics of division.”
Adam Johannes of Stop the War Coalition, one of the groups that organizes a demonstration against the Israeli national team’s participation in the soccer tournament, said, “We welcome Cardiff council’s decision to cancel an exhibition sponsored by the Israeli Embassy that whitewashes the reality of football in the Middle East. Israel wages war on Palestinian football. How can a country be allowed to compete in international matches when it prevents another Fifa member from playing football freely?
Johannes also claimed that the Israeli Football Association had reorganized youth leagues along race lines in the Samaria region, so that nearly all Arab children’s teams were now racially segregated and did not play with Jewish teams.