How Art Museums Distort Jewish Culture, and Downplay Anti-Semitism

In recent years, art museums have grown increasing concerned with a variety of questions that might be characterized as “woke.” Are the works of artists of different races and ethnicities displayed in galleries? Are black as well as white subjects represented in paintings? Museums have taken such steps in response as making sure to mention the role of the Netherlands in the trans-Atlantic slave trade in an exhibit on 17th-century Dutch paintings. Yet, observes Menachem Wecker, none of these sensitivities seem to apply to Jews. Thus works by Philip Guston are censored or guarded by trigger warnings, while no mention is made of the fact that Guston was Jewish, or that he might have been responding to anti-Semitism with his work.

Wecker produces numerous examples of museums downplaying anti-Semitic portrayals of Jews in artworks, while often failing to identify such artists as Chaim Soutine as Jews—even when Jewish themes figure prominently in their art. Nor do Catholics fare much better, with anti-Catholic pieces like the now-notorious 1987 Piss Christ receiving ample contextualization intended to downplay controversy, whereas “when there’s no controversy, museums insert controversy.” (Video, 59 minutes.)

Read more at Catholic Theological Union

More about: Anti-Semitism, Art history, Catholicism, Jewish art, Museums

Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem