Israel's ambassador to Canada is condemning an art exhibit at Ottawa's City Hall he says glorifies men and women connected to attacks on Israelis.
The exhibit Invisible — on display at the Karsh-Masson Art Gallery on the ground floor of city hall — is the work of Canadian artist Rehab Nazzal.
Nazzal describes her mix of photographs, audio and video as based on her memories of living as a Palestinian under Israeli occupation and describes it as more concerned with "the brutality of war."
But Israel Ambassador Rafael Barak said the exhibit's video montage of photos, entitled Target, includes photographs of men and women who are portrayed as activists and writers but who the Israel government believes are responsible for acts of violence.
Among the people Barak singles out from the video is former Palestine Liberation Organization deputy chief Abu Iyad, who the Israeli government views as a chief architect of the failed hostage-taking attempt during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich that led to the killing of 11 Israeli athletes.
"They can Google their names. How they killed 11 Israeli sportsmen in the Olympic Games, how they killed 22 children in the north of my country," said Barak.
Barak thinks the artist is misleading the public to include people like Iyad in the exhibit without providing any context as to who they are — other than that they were killed.
"This is why I was so shocked, the fact that people are misled on that," said Barak.
Exhibit won't be taken down, says deputy city manager
He met with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson Thursday to express his frustration over the exhibit, but said he has not called for its removal, as the Jewish Federation of Ottawa did on the same day.
Following the meeting, the mayor's office directed the city to review its policies governing exhibit selection, said Deputy City Manager of Operations Steve Kanellakos.
A three-person jury selects the artwork for the gallery independent of city officials and city staff, said Kanellakos.
He said the mayor's call for a review of the policy is because it dates back to 1993 and he wants it to be updated "to ensure we are current with best practices."
But Kannellakos said the city has no intention of removing the exhibit before it's scheduled to close on June 22.
Artist calls intervention 'extremely dangerous'
Nazzal said she is upset by what she perceives as censorship on her right to expression.
"I was shocked to tell you, I was not expected a representative of a foreign country to intervene in the artwork of a Canadian artist," said Nazzal.
"This is extremely dangerous...[it is] really scary that it can be pushed further into the future to silence and censor any meaningful art in the gallery and the museums," said Nazzal.
She said it is the critics of the work who have removed context by selectively focusing on a handful of the 1,700 images of people that flash across the screen in the exhibit.
"Those figures are part of this political memory of Palestinians," she said.