An exhibit at a Sydney library on Palestinian refugees was canceled the morning of its scheduled opening.
Counter-terror agents visited the Leichhardt municipal library the night before the May 9 opening of its al-Nakba exhibition. A police spokesman said said they were just “introducing themselves,” but by the next morning the exhibit of photos, poems and articles was canceled.
Carole Lawson, a member of Friends of Hebron – the community activist group that developed the exhibition – said the agents “put the fear of God” into the library staff, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It’s the censorship of Palestine,” she said. “Apparently the anti-terrorism squad decides what we can see on the public walls of a library.”
A spokesman for the municipal council in Leichhardt, an area near Sydney’s main business district, denied the decision was influenced by police.
“The written description of some of the images and the headlines were clearly divisive in a public library,” he said. “The officers didn’t tell the council to do anything.”
Vic Alhadeff, the CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, denied allegations that the Jewish community had lobbied for the exhibit’s cancellation.
Alhadeff said he had contacted the Leichhardt Council when he became aware of the exhibit last week to inquire if it would be balanced. He suggested the Jewish community mount a second exhibit on Israel’s efforts toward peace.
The Leichhardt Council agreed, but then the Palestinian exhibit was taken down. Last year it voted to establish a sister-city arrangement with Hebron.