Chelsea and Westminster Hospital has removed a display of artwork incorporating Palestinian political propaganda.
This follows a complaint by UKLFI on behalf of some Jewish patients, who said that they felt vulnerable and victimised by this display.
The display was of decorated plates, along with their original designs and explanations about their significance. The designs were said to have been created by children at two UNWRA schools in Gaza: the Beit Lahia Girls’ School and the Jabalia Prep Boys’ A School. However, the drawings all appear to be professional artwork, in the same style, and carried out by the same person.
The display was entitled “Crossing Borders – a festival of Plates” and was situated by the entrance to the children’s outpatients’ department.
In the display, “Palestine” was described as covering the entirety of Israel and the Temple Mount was depicted with a huge Palestinian Flag. The explanation for one plate says: “Fishing with nets is one of the oldest industries in Palestine. The shoreline stretches for 224 km from Rafah in the south to Ra’as al Naqoura in the North.” Ra’as al Naqoura is the Arabic name for Rosh HaNikra, an international border crossing between Israel and Lebanon in the North. Rafah is the border town with Egypt, in the South of Gaza. Thus the existence of Israel is denied and “Palestine” is regarded as covering the entirety of Israel.
Another description of a plate says: “The olive branch is the symbol of peace and is used to express the wish for an independent Palestinian state”. However, the picture on the plate accompanying the text shows the Dome of the Rock with a large Palestinian flag, implying that Jerusalem and in particular the site of what had been the Jewish Temple, would be part of a Palestinian state. The Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism and it is offensive for many Jewish people to see a Palestinian flag over their holiest site.
Caroline Turner , director of UKLFI commented “We are pleased that the display has been removed and that the hospital has responded positively to its patients’ complaints.”
Chelsea Community Hospital school has very longstanding links with Gaza. In 2010 it received an award from the British Council for an international project partnering with schools in Gaza. The children communicated together via videoconference.
The decorative plates project dates back to 2012 when three teachers from Gaza visited the hospital school. A hospital newsletter from that time says: “Students in Gaza had sent us their pictures of everyday life which our students then transferred onto a set of plates. The plates were displayed at Leighton House as part of the Nour Festival. Together we then made books showing the original pictures, the plates and descriptive text both in Arabic and English. We titled the book ‘Crossing Borders – A Festival of Plates’. Photographs of the plates and the original drawings are on display at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London”.
It appears that the hospital also paid for three of its teachers to visit schools in Gaza. A video of this visit which took place at some time between 2010 to 2014 is available on an archived Chelsea Community Hospital School website.