Some 400 people took to the streets of Paris on Sunday afternoon in front of the Jeu de Paume museum to demonstrate against a photo exhibition which seeks to glorify Palestinian Authority Arab suicide bombers who characterize themselves as ‘’freedom fighters,’’ as well as showcasing “those who lost their lives in fighting the occupation”, the European Jewish Press (EJP) reported.
The demonstrators, who were cordoned off by French riot police to guarantee their security, observed a minute of silence in memory of the victims of terrorist attacks, according to EJP.
The exhibition of photos by PA Arab photographer Ahlam Shibli, which will be on display at the museum until September, has provoked outrage from Jewish organizations. French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF accused the curators of making “an apology of terrorism” in an open letter on the subject to French Culture Minister, Aurelie Filippetti.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles called on the Jewish community “and all friends of Israel and of humanity who fight against terrorism” to join in the demonstration in front of the museum, according to EJP.
Shimon Samuels, director of International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was quoted as having said upon visiting the exhibition, “The summary of the exhibition in the museum’s official catalogue describes Palestinian terrorists convicted in Israel as ‘failed martyrs who have yet to achieve their unfulfilled suicide missions.’”
Arab Israeli volunteers in the Israel Defense Forces are presented as mentally disturbed or handicapped, as well as collaborators in the Zionist effort against “the Palestinian cause”, Samuels observed. Terrorist prisoners who signed commitments to renounce terrorism in return for their release or exchange were described as imposters, he added, according to EJP.
The exhibit features portraits of Arab suicide bombers, from the military wing of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction. Specifically, they are members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a banned terror organization in the U.S. and the European Union.
Alongside the dozens of photographs are anti-Israel captions glorifying their deaths. One photo depicts a proud mother in her home waving a photo of her terrorist son who murdered 19 victims in a 2002 attack on a bus in Jerusalem. Next to another, a caption explains all the individuals in the photo are "martyrs" since they died "as a result of the Israeli occupation."
“The glorification of suicide bombing on display at the Jeu de Paume museum can only serve to promote violence,” said Samuels.
Museum Director Marta Gilli told the French daily Le Figaro that “the purpose of an art center is to create debate,” adding, “I am therefore open to all feedback, whatever it may be. What shocks me is the use of threats, insults and harassment.”