Have Canadian Nazis met their match in the CJPME?

February 19, 2010

In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict


The organizers of a photo exhibition that shows the plight of Palestinians after the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip last winter say they will go to court to stop the property manager of the Cinéma du Parc from trying to shut down the show.

The exhibition, titled Human Drama in Gaza, features 44 pictures taken during and after Israeli air strikes on Gaza in January 2009. One photo shows a girl buried up to her neck in rubble.

The show is organized by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, a group that says it wants to foster justice, peace, prosperity and security for all peoples of the Middle East.

On Monday, a lawyer representing Gestion Redbourne PDP Inc., the property manager of the building housing the Cinéma du Parc, sent an email to management of the Park Ave. theatre, instructing them to remove the photos and other written information about the exhibition.

Redbourne cited a clause in its lease with Cinéma du Parc that says: “The rented space must be used and occupied … by the renter for purely cinematographic use.”

It told cinema officials that a security guard would be sent to the theatre Monday night to confirm the photos had been removed.

No guard arrived, however.

After receiving the email, a lawyer representing Canadians for Justice and Peace and the Cinéma du Parc sent an email to Redbourne’s legal counsel, warning the company not to remove the pictures from the cinema.

“The exposition … will only be removed on court order. Should your security forces attempt an unauthorized removal of the exhibit, they will be considered trespassers. In that event, cinema staff have been advised to call the police,” said the email, written by Gardiner Miller Arnold.

Redbourne’s legal counsel, Lieba Shell, responded to that email on Tuesday, saying the property management firm “is reviewing its options.”

A woman who answered the telephone at Redbourne’s Montreal office yesterday said no one was authorized to speak to the media.

The controversy began last week, when Cinéma du Parc began receiving emails and phone calls from individuals unhappy with the Human Drama in Gaza photo exhibition, said Jean-François Lamarche, the theatre’s director of programming.

Since word of the potential shutdown was made public this week, Lamarche said, he has received at least 2,300 emails from people supporting his right to display the pictures. The cinema has hosted more than 40 photo exhibitions over the past three years and Redbourne had never had a problem, he said.

According to Canadians for Justice and Peace, the show seeks to put a human face to the misery of the people of Gaza. But some complained the exhibition is anti-Israeli.

Grace Batchoun, a spokesperson for Canadians for Justice and Peace, said Redbourne was trying to bully them into removing the photos.

“This is intimidation and it is political. There are so many people who don’t want the truth in Gaza to come out.”

The images, by professional photographers from Israel, Palestinian territories and the West, have been on display since Jan 15. The Montreal stop is the first in a series of shows in Canada.

The free exhibition is to run until Feb. 28. It is open weekdays from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and weekends from 3:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.