On August 15, HonestReporting Canada exposed how the Canadian War Museum recently hosted a World Press Photo exhibit which contained images that glorified Palestinian terrorism and ignored Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
As countless numbers of Canadians saw this exhibit and were seriously misled, HonestReporting Canada filed a complaint with the Canadian War Museum (a crown corporation no less), and the Canadian Heritage ministry, along with encouraging our subscribers to voice their concerns about how the World Press Photo exhibit gave attention and drew sympathy to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails and not the Israeli victims of terrorism.
On August 25, the Museum’s acting CEO and President, Caroline Dromaguet, sent the following response to our complaint and to a request made jointly by HRC and One Family Fund to host an exhibit on Israeli victims of terrorism:
Thank you for reaching out to the Canadian War Museum to share your concerns regarding the presentation of World Press Photo Exhibition 2021 and the inclusion of Antonio Faccilongo’s entry “Habibi”, which was awarded 1st Prize in the category of Long-Term Projects, Stories in the annual contest. “Habibi” was one of 45 stories presented in a wider display of 159 photographs documenting current events, armed conflict, social issues and natural phenomena of global importance.
World Press Photo is an international competition organized by the World Press Photo Foundation in the Netherlands. While the War Museum is not involved with selecting images or developing text, the annual 3-week presentation of the exhibition offers the Canadian War Museum an opportunity to address contemporary conflicts and events.
This travelling exhibition of photographs and accompanying text was developed by the World Press Foundation. This year’s edition, World Press Photo Exhibition 2021 opened at the Canadian War Museum on July 23 and closed to the public on August 15. The photographs and stories presented in the exhibition were selected by an independent jury of experts from among thousands of submissions by photojournalists around the world. The images reflect the jury’s decision on what to highlight in international affairs and contemporary society.
The comments and concerns you have raised are important to us. We will be sharing those concerns with the World Press Photo Foundation.
If you still wish to submit an exhibition proposal, you are welcome to do so through my Chief of Staff, Kay Richter (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please note that it will be evaluated in the same manner as other exhibition proposals we receive.
Thank you again for sharing your feedback with us.
It’s most concerning that the Canadian War Museum passed the buck, took a complete hands-off approach and position and isn’t taking any responsibility for giving a platform and audience to a sympathetic portrayal of Palestinian terrorists. Because the Museum hosted this exhibit, scores of Canadians were seriously misled in an effort that only fanned the flames of hatred. Irrespective of who created the exhibit, the Museum hosted it and any content it gave a platform to, should go through a comprehensive vetting process and due diligence to ensure that it meets the Museum’s standards. That clearly did not happen.
We encourage you to read the Canadian Jewish News’ (CJN) coverage of this issue, listen to the CJN’s podcast and watch an interview with the CJN’s Ellin Bessner and HRC’s Executive Director Mike Fegelman on the controversy:
It’s one thing for a private museum to give a platform to an exhibit which sanitized terrorism, and quite another for the Canadian War Museum to host an exhibit like this, which cost $35,000, and which is a crown corporation funded by Canadian tax dollars.
To say that we are deeply disappointed would be an understatement and that the Museum has shown it’s unwilling to engage in dialogue is deeply concerning.
HonestReporting Canada encourages you to continue to communicate your concerns directly to the Canadian War Museum calling for accountability and asking for an independent investigation into this matter. Please send emails to Ms. Dromaguet at: email@example.com.