Dr. Eyal Weizman, a British Israeli architect, is another academic recruited to smear Israel. In February 2020, IAM reported that he was refused a visa to the US on the grounds of security risk. Weizman is a life-long anti-Israel radical activist who made a career out of pro-Palestinian advocacy. Weizman established Forensic Architecture (FA) at the Goldsmiths University of London, Department of Visual Cultures, which he has run since 2010.
Weizman recently hit the news when his organization, the FA, threatened to remove its artwork from the Whitworth gallery at Manchester University. The gallery removed a statement of solidarity with Palestine, which FA inserted. It was part of the exhibition which focuses on violence, including by Israeli forces against Palestinians. FA demanded the removal of their exhibition upon hearing of the removal of their solidarity statement. However, the University of Manchester, due to pressure from Palestinian groups, reinstated the solidarity statement, and the exhibition continues to run.
FA is a research agency investigating human rights violations, including violence committed by states, police forces, militaries, and corporations. Their “investigations employ pioneering techniques in spatial and architectural analysis, open source investigation, digital modeling, and immersive technologies, as well as documentary research, situated interviews, and academic collaboration. Findings from our investigations have been presented in national and international courtrooms, parliamentary inquiries, and exhibitions at some of the world’s leading cultural institutions and in international media, as well as in citizen’s tribunals and community assemblies.”
Forensic Architecture boasts about contributing to the field of “investigative journalism, human rights and activism.” It aims to create a “robust debate” in human rights, architecture and legal circles. However, It carefully selects the incidents it investigates to meet its political agenda.
Weizman achieved prominence when he collaborated with Sandi Hillal, a Palestinian architect and researcher, and Alessandro Petti, her husband. Hilal was the head of the Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Program in the West Bank at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) from 2008 to 2014. In 2007, Hillal, Petti and Weizman founded DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency) in Beit Sahour, Palestine. It gathers architects, artists, activists, urbanists, film-makers, and curators working collectively on politics and architecture. A major theme that keeps reoccurring is the Palestinian refugee camps, “Camps are established with the intention of being demolished. They are meant to have no history and no future; they are meant to be forgotten. The history of refugee camps is constantly erased, dismissed by states, humanitarian organizations, international agencies, and even by refugee communities themselves in the fear that any acknowledgement of the present undermines their right of return.” In other words, the refugee camps are there for the residents waiting for their “return” to Israel.
However, Forensic Architecture does not investigate crimes of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas against its people, such as the killing of dissidents. Weizman ignores reports by Freedom House, which evaluated last year’s political rights and civil liberties of people, ranging from the right to vote to freedom of expression and equality before the law. Freedom House, in comparison, found that the West Bank and Gaza received some of the lowest scores. Israel’s total score is 76 and its people are free; the West Bank’s total score is 25 and its people are not free; the Gaza Strip’s total score is 11 and its people are not free.
Even Iran’s meddling in Palestinian affairs does not convince Weizman and his partners to scrutinize the Palestinians abuse of human rights. Such steadfast refusal to acknowledge the human rights violations of the Palestinians and their Iranian mentor reflects his double standards.
Manchester University puts Palestinian solidarity statement back in gallery
Statement on ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Palestinians reinstated after complaint led to it being removed
A note at the entrance to Forensic Architecture’s Cloud Studies exhibition at the Whitworth gallery prompted a complaint from UK Lawyers for Israel. Photograph: Alan Williams/PA
Wed 18 Aug 2021 17.02 BST
The University of Manchester has reversed a decision to remove a statement of solidarity with Palestine’s “liberation struggle” from an exhibition of works by a human rights investigations agency.
Alistair Hudson, the director of the university’s Whitworth gallery, said it was important for Forensic Architecture’s Cloud Studies exhibition “to remain open in full”. UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) responded by saying it was “considering all options”.
A senior university official had previously written to Jewish groups to tell them the exhibition’s opening statement, criticised as “factually incorrect and dangerously one-sided”, had been removed.
Hudson said instead that the Whitworth would provide a space for alternative responses to contextualise the issues raised by Cloud Studies. “It will be displayed prominently in the gallery,” he said.
He added: “The university, as a non-political organisation, 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.”
The university’s climbdown comes after Forensic Architecture responded to the decision to remove the statement by pulling Cloud Studies “with immediate effect” on Sunday. That day, the gallery tweeted that the exhibition was closed due to “unforeseen circumstances”, and it was not due to open on Monday and Tuesday.
On Wednesday, pro-Palestinian groups staged protests. Manchester Palestine Action said the university had “suppressed the truth about Israel’s war crimes” as its supporters rallied at the Whitworth. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign said it had coordinated 13,000 letters to the university through its online platform.
The impact of war in Palestine was just one of a number of human rights issues examined by Cloud Studies. But a statement pinned to the exhibit’s entrance had specifically denounced Israel’s military operations in Gaza and its “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians.
It said the Palestinian “liberation struggle” was “inseparable from other global struggles”, and particularly the struggle for Black liberation.
In a letter to the University of Manchester last month, UKLFI had said the statement was full of inaccuracies, and that it “seems designed to provoke racial discord” by trying to “falsely equate Israelis with white supremacists”.
The group asked what regard was paid to “the impact of the inflammatory language and representations” in the exhibition on Manchester’s Jewish communities, and warned that the university could be in breach of its public-sector equality duty “to foster good relations between different communities”.
Prof Nalin Thakkar, the university’s vice-president for social responsibility, wrote back to say he understood the concerns around the statement, adding: “We consider it appropriate for it to be removed, which we have now done.”
After the reinstatement, Eyal Weizman, the director of Forensic Architecture, said he had made clear to the university that the equality duty had to include Palestinians.
“The equality duty extends to all communities,” Weizman said. “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.”
Artists pull work from Whitworth gallery after Palestine statement removal
Solidarity message removed from exhibition by Forensic Architecture after UK Lawyers for Israel campaign
Mon 16 Aug 2021 19.13 BST
A Turner prize-nominated investigative group has said it is pulling an exhibition of its work at the Whitworth gallery in Manchester after a statement of solidarity with Palestine was removed from the display.
Part of the exhibition addresses violence used by Israeli forces against Palestinians and was accused of being “incendiary and by its very nature one-sided” by UK Lawyers For Israel (UKLFI) which advocates for Israeli causes.
Forensic Architecture, a team of architects, archaeologists and journalists whose digital models of crime scenes have been cited as evidence at the international criminal court, demanded the closure of its exhibit “with immediate effect” upon learning of the removal.
The removal of the statement followed a campaign by UKLFI. A letter sent on 28 July by UKLFI to the University of Manchester, which controls the Whitworth gallery, suggested the exhibition could through its “inflammatory language and representations [of Jewish people]” breach the university’s public sector equality duty. It argued the comparison of the Palestinian and Black liberation struggles “seems designed to provoke racial discord”.
The intervention led to a meeting between representatives from the university, the gallery, UKLFI and Jewish community groups in Manchester, where the decision was taken to remove the statement.
Emails seen by the Guardian suggest Forensic Architecture’s director, Eyal Weizman, a British-Israeli professor at Goldsmiths, learned of the statement’s removal from a blog post by UKLFI. “As our work seems to have been compromised despite our strong objections, we demand that our exhibition is closed with immediate effect,” Weizman told the gallery.
The show, Cloud Studies, has been open since 2 July and looked at how pollution, chemical attacks and the aftermath of explosions affect marginalised people. It explored the use of teargas and white phosphorus in Palestine, chemical warfare in Syria, the use of teargas against protesters in Chile, the effects of deliberately started forest fires in Papua and highlighted major new work on environmental racism in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley”’.
At the entrance to the exhibition was pinned a note, headed “Forensic Architecture stands with Palestine”. It said: “We believe this liberation struggle is inseparable from other global struggles against racism, white supremacy, antisemitism, and settler colonial violence and we acknowledge its particularly close entanglement with the Black liberation struggle around the world.”
Weizman told the Guardian: “I’m stunned that the University of Manchester forced the removal of our ‘solidarity with Palestine’ statement which forms part of our exhibition.
“The statement refers to well-documented realities in Palestine, endorsed by major human rights groups. That the University of Manchester did so following the pressure from a self-appointed lobbying group known to platform the extreme-right settler movement in Israel disregard well-accepted principles of academic and artistic freedom and is an affront to the principles of human rights, in Palestine and elsewhere, that FA’s exhibition promotes.”
Weizman was referring to an episode two years ago when an event staged by UKLFI in London featuring a representative of the far-right organisation Regavim was blockaded by British Jews opposed to Israel’s occupation. At the time the UKLFI director, Caroline Turner, said Regavim was “certainly not a champion of hate” as it took action “against Jewish as well as Arab violators”.
UKLFI disputed the characterisation of its intervention as lobbying. It “expressed reasonable concerns”, the organisation told the Guardian. Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UKLFI, said: “In our view the university took a responsible decision, allowing the continued display of what passed for artistic elements in Forensic Architecture’s exhibition, even though these were also misleading, but removing the introduction which was pure propaganda. Forensic Architecture’s decision to pull the whole exhibition suggests that they are more interested in propaganda than art.”
The University of Manchester has previously been embroiled in controversy over censorship of expressions of solidarity with Palestine. In 2017 the university censored the title of a Holocaust survivor’s talk on Israel after Israeli diplomats said its billing – “You’re doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to me” – amounted to antisemitic hate speech.
In a statement provided by the University of Manchester, Alistair Hudson, director of the Whitworth gallery, said it was important that the exhibition remains on show, but that it was “paused” on Sunday.
But, he added: “We recognise the concerns expressed about the inclusion of that statement within the exhibition space and take these seriously, including regarding how it might be received by visitors to the gallery and around its potential impact on some communities in the city, community cohesion and fostering good relations.”
Manchester gallery accused of provoking racial discord over exhibition on environmental effects of Israel-Palestine conflict
Cloud Studies by Forensic Architecture on show at the Whitworth Gallery has been criticised by the UK Lawyers for Israel
12th August 2021 12:11 BST
An exhibition at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester that addresses violence used by Israeli forces against Palestinians has been accused of antisemitism by a UK-based legal organisation that advocates for Israeli causes.
Devised by the Turner Prize-nominated artist research group Forensic Architecture, Cloud Studies (until 17 October) examines how power structures shape the air we breathe, surveying instances across the globe—including Israeli military action in Palestine and the West Bank—to show the toxic environmental effects of chemical warfare such as tear gas and bomb clouds.
An introductory text to a film in the exhibition begins: “Forensic Architecture stands with Palestine” and continues to outline experiences of “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinian neighbourhoods by “Israeli police and settlers”. It continues stating that the Palestinian liberation struggle “is inseparable from other global struggles against racism, white supremacy antisemitism, and settler colonial violence”.
In response, Daniel Berke, the director of UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), a Manchester-based legal organisation supporting Israel, has written to the vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester, to which the Whitworth belongs, claiming that the exhibition’s language seems “designed to provoke racial discord”.
Of chief concern, Berke writes, is the impact of the show on Jewish people in Manchester, citing reports of a marked upswing in cases of antisemitism in the UK following a period of increased violence in Gaza in May.
Installation view of Cloud Studies at Whitworth Gallery, Manchester Image: Courtesy of Forensic Architecture and Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester
Due to the fact that the Whitworth is connected to a public university, the letter states, the institution is legally bound by the Public Sector Equality Duty, a set of guidelines created under the 2010 Equality Act. The UKLFI claims that the exhibition infringes upon some of the act’s mandates, including the “elimination of discrimination, harassment and victimisation”, and the consideration to “foster good relations between different communities”.
UKLFI further cites an email written by the artist Daniel Mort, also seen by The Art Newspaper, that criticises the Whitworth’s “one-sided” curatorial stance, saying: “The exhibition text is presented as fact without any context and is full of inaccuracies and omissions—not least in the absence of any mention of Hamas who escalated both the unrest within Israel and the Gaza hostilities.”
Mort also challenges the “dangerous conflation of Israeli policy and action with colonialism and white supremacism. “This kind of simplistic view, when presented on a gallery wall in a semi-educational guise, is all too often accepted without question by visitors who may have little in-depth knowledge of a given situation. As such it is extremely divisive,” he says.
However, the Israeli-born director of Forensic Architecture Eyal Weizman defended the exhibition. Speaking to the Jewish Chronicle he said: “We did not report on the rockets, nor did we report on the reason that the rockets were fired, in the dispossession of Palestinian families in Jerusalem and the tear gassing of al Aqsa Mosque”, he said.
Weizman also pushes back against claims that the show would lead to an increase in antisemitism in Manchester, adding: “I disagree with those that say so: like anti-Palestinian racism, we oppose and condemn antisemitism, and wrote it in our statement.”
The letter from UKLFI adds that Weizman is “banned from the US on security grounds”, and “opposed the internationally recognised definition of antisemitism”.
In a statement shared with The Art Newspaper, a spokeswoman for Forensic Architecture says: “As evident in our 10 years of work—in both the form and content of our investigations into settler colonial violence around the world—we work with communities to oppose all forms of anti-Palestinian racism, fascism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism.”
A spokesperson for the Whitworth tells The Art Newspaper that the gallery “takes the concerns expressed very seriously and is in discussions with relevant community groups and exploring as a priority steps that may be taken to address the concerns which have been raised regarding aspects of the exhibition.”
“We do understand that this particular work is challenging and can be difficult and that it may cause strong reactions from those who disagree with its content. Any suggestion that this is in some way discriminatory is a real cause for concern for the Whitworth Gallery which holds dearly its commitment to a zero tolerance of all forms of racism.”
This incident marks the latest run-in between UKLFI and the Whitworth. Last month, the gallery was forced to remove a statement posted on its website following an intervention from UKLFI. UKLFI claimed that the statement, made in solidarity with Palestine, was “divisive” and “likely to cause fractions” at a vulnerable time for the Jewish community.
UPDATE: This article was amended on 12 August 2021 to reflect that Eyal Weizman, director of Forensic Architecture, is banned from entering the US on security grounds, rather than Whitworth Gallery director Alistair Hudson, as was originally published. The headline was also changed to better represent the contents of this article.
Israeli checkpoint killing of Palestinian was an execution, report claims
London-based group says video evidence casts doubt on claims Ahmad Erekat was conducting an attack
Israeli forces executed a 26-year-old Palestinian at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank last year, a report has alleged, challenging Israeli police claims that the man was a “terrorist” conducting an attack.
Forensic Architecture, a British research body based at Goldsmiths, University of London, said it had conducted an analysis into the death of Ahmad Erekat, who was shot seconds after his car crashed into a booth and lightly wounded an Israeli border guard.
The incident last June was described on the day by Israeli police as a “vehicle attack”, saying that its forces had “quickly neutralize [sic] the threat from the terrorist”.
In the past few years, Palestinian attackers have used car-rammings against Israeli security forces and civilians.
However, Forensic Architecture said its investigation, which reconstructed the scene using available film, including security footage published by police, cast “significant doubt” on claims Erekat was involved in an attack, and suggested the crash may have been an accident.
A collision expert cited in the report, Jeremy J Bauer, found the car was not accelerating significantly and hit the woman at low speed. “Our analysis also comes across evidence that raises the possibility that Erekat braked before impact with the checkpoint,” the report said.
Israeli forces had not produced “any evidence that it was not the result of an error or malfunction”, it added.
According to Erekat’s family, he was running chores for his sister’s wedding, which was due to take place later that day.
Israeli police claimed Erekat “approached officers” after the crash. Forensic Architecture said video proved he had “raised his hands in the air, moved away from the soldiers, and did not pose any immediate threat”.
He was shot up to six times within seconds, it said, adding that Israeli forces offered no immediate medical aid, even while he was clearly alive. The killing amounted to an extrajudicial execution, it concluded.
Erekat’s body was stripped and left for more than an hour and a half on the ground, it said.
Forensic Architecture is headed by Eyal Weizman, a British-Israeli professor at Goldsmiths. It has conducted several open-source investigations that use 3D modelling, including into the Beirut port explosion and US police brutality.
This is the first investigation by the body’s Palestine Unit and was supported with documentation by the Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq.
Responding to the report, Israeli police claimed Erekat had moved “quickly towards the border police officers” while “waving his hands in a manner deemed threatening”.
Police and military investigators had concluded that “Erekat carried out a deliberate ramming attack”. Without providing evidence, police said information on Erekat’s phone “reinforced” that conclusion.
It added Erekat had no pulse minutes after the incident and was pronounced dead. “During the entire incident, there was no degrading treatment.”
It said it would not be able to comment on holding the body, as it was part of legal proceedings in the high court.
B’Tselem, an Israeli rights group, says the country is holding dozens of bodies of Palestinian attackers and alleged attackers to use “as bargaining chips for future negotiations”. Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, is believed to hold the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.=======================================
The Guardian | January 16, 2009
Growing outrage at the killings in Gaza
The massacres in Gaza are the latest phase of a war that Israel has been waging against the people of Palestine for more than 60 years. The goal of this war has never changed: to use overwhelming military power to eradicate the Palestinians as a political force, one capable of resisting Israel‘s ongoing appropriation of their land and resources. Israel‘s war against the Palestinians has turned Gaza and the West Bank into a pair of gigantic political prisons. There is nothing symmetrical about this war in terms of principles, tactics or consequences. Israel is responsible for launching and intensifying it, and for ending the most recent lull in hostilities.
Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides. If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides… against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank.
We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, and not upon the criminal use of force.
We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.
Among the 300 signatories:
Dr. Eyal Weizman, Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths
Sandi Hilal is an architect and researcher. Hilal was the head of the Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Program in the West Bank at UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) from 2008 to 2014. Together with Alessandro Petti, she founded Campus in Camps (www.campusincamps.ps), an experimental educational program hosted in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem with the aims to overcome conventional educational structures by creating a space for critical and grounded knowledge production connected to greater transformations and the democratization of society. Hilal and Petti co-authored the book Architecture after Revolution (Sternberg, Berlin 2014), an invitation to rethink today’s struggles for justice and equality not only from the historical perspective of revolution, but also from that of a continued struggle for decolonization. In 2007, together with Alessandro Petti and Eyal Weizman, she founded DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency) (www.decolonizing.ps) in Beit Sahour, Palestine, with the aim to combine an architectural studio and an art residency able to gather together architects, artists, activists, urbanists, filmmakers, and curators to work collectively on the subjects of politics and architecture.