LONDON: A British university has backed down on its decision to remove a statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people from an exhibition by a human rights investigations agency.
Alistair Hudson, director of Manchester University’s Whitworth gallery, said it is important for research group Forensic Architecture’s “Cloud Studies” exhibition “to remain open in full.”
Jewish groups had been informed by a senior official that the exhibition’s opening statement had been removed following complaints that it was “factually incorrect and dangerously one-sided.”
But with the return of the solidarity note, Hudson said there will now be a space for alternative responses surrounding the issues raised by the exhibition.
The note “will be displayed prominently in the gallery,” he added: “The university, as a non-political organization, has tried to balance extremely complex issues raised by the exhibition, but we believe that the worst outcome for all parties concerned would have been to close this exhibition for an extended period of time.”
Forensic Architecture responded to the university’s decision to remove the solidarity note on the Palestinian “liberation struggle” by pulling its exhibition “with immediate effect” on Sunday. It was closed on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
At protests outside the Whitworth gallery on Wednesday, Manchester Palestine Action said the university had “suppressed the truth about Israel’s war crimes.”
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign said 13,000 letters were sent to Manchester University in reaction to the removal of the note.
The entrance to the Cloud Studies exhibition denounced Israeli operations in Gaza, accusing them of carrying out the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians.
UK Lawyers for Israel said the note could harm the university’s legally binding commitment under the Equality Act “to foster good relations between different communities.” UKLFI said it is “considering all options” after the decision to reinstate the note.
Following its return to the exhibit’s entrance, Forensic Architecture Director Eyal Weizman said: “The equality duty extends to all communities. The effect of the removal of the statement that we have seen on both the Palestinians in Manchester and pro-Palestinian groups is huge, precisely because they were left out of the conversation.”