Hamas art goes on display in Australia

December 13, 2004


1. Why not sanitize the Bali bomber?
2. Extracts from previous dispatches on Australia
3. We're all Israelis now, says Australian politician
4. On Yassin's death
5. Holocaust-denying film at Melbourne film festival
6. The Age: Jewish group blasts "offensive" artwork


[Note by Tom Gross]

An exhibition of large pictures of four Hamas leaders has gone on display in Australia, disguised as art.

The privately funded exhibition, on the exterior of an office building off a busy Melbourne street, depicts the faces of four senior Hamas figures, include two former leaders, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Abdul Aziz Rantisi.

Critics say the exhibition, which is part of the Melbourne City Lights project, awards these killers a "hero or martyr status," and is highly offensive to the thousands of innocent people, mainly Jews, killed and maimed on their orders.

One critic wondered what the reactions of Australians would be if Israel glorified the Bali bomber, Amrozi.

Hamas have injured Australians before too. For example, in the dispatch of June 11, 2003, titled Hamas: We killed 16 "settlers", I pointed out:

"The Hamas web site this afternoon describes the 16 Israeli (non-settler) civilians murdered on a bus in west Jerusalem earlier today by a Hamas suicide bomber, dressed as an ultra-Orthodox Jew (and the injuring of over 100 others) as 'settlers.' The Guardian (London) tries to suggest that the murdered Israelis were bystanders rather than the targets of the bomber in its 4.15 pm update bulletin, saying 'The bomb killed 'bystanders'. Among those slightly injured in the attack were Bridges for Peace staff, Ron Cantrell and Gordon Howel-Jones from Australia."

Commentator Charles Johnson adds: "In reporting the new Hamas 'art' display, one of Australia's leading newspapers, The Age, (December 10, 2004) does its best to delegitimize the outrage, with a headline that implies only Jews could be "offended" by this sick display: "Jewish group blasts 'offensive' artwork." I am not Jewish and I am offended."

I attach that article from The Age, below.

You can view a picture of the Hamas exhibit at

-- Tom Gross



I have covered Australia dozens of times on this email list over recent years. In general the Australian media and politicians have been more condemnatory of Palestinian terrorism than most western media and politicians.

I attach extracts from previous dispatches on this list:


Extract from Dispatch of Friday, October 31, 2003
Titled: We're all Israelis now, says Australian politician

"We're all Israelis now, says Abbott" (The Herald Sun (Australia), 30 October 2003). [Australian Health Minister] "Tony Abbott has accused the Sydney Peace Prize winner, Palestinian Hanan Ashrawi, of justifying terrorism against civilians, and declared that the Bali bombing has made all Australians "Israelis now". Continuing an assertive defense of Western values and Judeo-Christian beliefs against terrorism, he said instead of "spawning phobias" about Israel, the September 11 and Bali terror attacks should generate a shared suffering between Israel and Western democracies

... His comments came as [Australian Prime Minister] John Howard also waded into the debate over the prize, to be awarded in Sydney next week, joining Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer in naming former Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen as a better choice. Mr Howard's spokesman said. "Hanan Ashrawi has not been active in promoting the road map."

...The Australian's columnist Phillip Adams, said it was not "anti-Semitic to criticise the Israeli Government when it's wrong". "But what is it, then," he asked "to proclaim moral equivalence between an Israeli leadership striving to preserve a liberal, pluralist democracy and Palestinian leadership running a one-party statelet dedicated to destroying its neighbour?"



Extract from Dispatch of Sunday, April 12, 2004
Titled: Yassin 2: "Spiritual brother of Osama bin Laden"

The ninth item in that dispatch carried extracts from an editorial in "The Australian" newspaper:

"While there is little chance that the killing of Yassin will end the terror, the brutal reality is that Israel has nothing to lose. His death will demonstrate Israel is not an inert target and that it will do more than try to catch the suicide bombers before they strike. Despite the denunciations of Israel's action, practical Palestinian politicians who know the Jewish state cannot be destroyed will not regret the death of Sheikh Yassin. His death is one small step along the path away from perpetual war."



Extract from Dispatch of Wednesday, July 9, 2003
Titled: News from Europe and Australia

"Jewish bid to stop film," (By Gosia Kaszubska, Sunday Mail (Australia), July 4, 2003).

"A Jewish group's bid to stop the screening of a film by Holocaust-denying historian David Irving was an outrageous use of lobbying muscle, free speech advocates said yesterday. The Jewish Community Council of Victoria wants to stop a Melbourne film festival from screening Irving's The Search for Truth in History and organizing a live telephone hook-up with the British historian. The council has also sought an interim injunction on the Melbourne Underground Film Festival showing a documentary about the Israeli-Palestine conflict, claiming both the films and the phone hook-up would vilify Jewish people and incite hatred against them. Free Speech Victoria president Terry Lane said the legal bid was a pointless demonstration of the Jewish community's lobbying power, since Irving's ideas were widely available on the Internet. "This is another outrageous attempt by one small section of the community to determine what the whole community will see, hear and read," Lane, a broadcaster with ABC Radio National, said."



Jewish group blasts 'offensive' artwork
The Age
December 10, 2004


Public art in Melbourne's CBD depicting dead militant Palestinian leaders has sparked an outcry from the nation's peak Jewish group.

The Australian and Jewish Affairs Council has branded the artwork, which features the faces of two former Hamas leaders, offensive.

The privately funded exhibition, on the exterior of an office building off a busy Melbourne laneway, depicts the faces of four Palestinians killed by Israelis.

Two of the faces belong to former Hamas leaders, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Abdul Aziz Rantisi, both of whom were killed by Israelis.

"I think that it is appropriately located at the end of an alley right next to the garbage cans," Australian and Jewish Affairs Council senior policy analyst Ted Lapkin said.

"It's obviously a political statement, I can only surmise by someone who supports Hamas and Hamas is a terrorist organisation with the blood of hundreds of Israeli civilians on its hands."

Mr Lapkin likened the exhibition, which is part of the City Lights project, to artwork depicting the Bali bomber, Amrozi.

"Amrozi comes from an organisation that specialises in the deliberate killing of Australian citizens. What's the difference?" he said.

But exhibition curator and director Andrew Mac said the artist was trying to bring attention to what could be called state sponsored assassination or terrorism.

He defended the exhibition, saying it was important the public had access to a wide range of views.

"I think that it is important we receive a diverse range of opinions and cultural comment from a wide variety of people," he said.

"In today's kind of climate where media channels are controlled by fewer and fewer organisations, it is the role of artists to question information and provide critical and cultural comment."

Earlier this year, a council-funded artwork critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians was taken down after it was criticised by Jewish groups as an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds.

But while Mr Mac had received council funding in the past, he said he had not received government funding for around two years.

A Melbourne City Council spokeswoman confirmed the council had not contributed funding to the current exhibition.

The exhibition, which has been on for two months, is scheduled to be replaced next week.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.