On 1 June 2021 a statement was posted on the website of the Whitworth Art Gallery expressing solidarity with Palestine and support for ‘decolonialisation’. This was in the immediate wake of Operation Guardian of the Walls, the conflict between Gaza and Israel. The Whitworth is part of the University of Manchester.
UKLFI engaged with supporters of the gallery and made representations to the Director, Alistair Hudson. We expressed concerns that the statement was one-sided and expressed no solidarity with Israelis who had been killed or forced to take cover from rockets, in bomb shelters. We set out our view that the statement was divisive and likely to cause fractions at a time when Jews and Jewish institutions have been the targets of physical and abusive attacks, under the guise of support for Palestinians.
Mr Hudson listened carefully to our comments and was very understanding. We accepted his assurance that there was certainly no intention to cause division. The statement was removed and we are assured that greater consideration will be given to balance in the future.
Daniel Berke, a director of UKLFI said: “I am pleased how quickly and properly the Whitworth addressed this issue once it was raised, though of course disappointed that intervention was necessary. ”
Sam Green, a Director of UKLFI said: “Working with the local community, UKLFI started an engagement with the Whitworth to ensure that political issues like this are handled in a balanced and sensitive way”