Israel has asked the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop funding the Jewish Museum in Berlin, according to reports by the German daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung and the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz last week. The reason is that the exhibition Welcome to Jerusalem ‘presents a Palestinian-Islamic perspective on the city’ according to Israel.
A remarkable opinion, because the exhibition actually shows different views on Jerusalem, both from a Jewish and Palestinian perspective, so that visitors can form their own picture of this complex city, the museum has stated. The fact that this exhibition appeals to lots of people is clear from the visitor numbers: there have already been more than 300,000 visitors since the opening in December 2017.
Herman Kossmann, designer of the exhibition: ‘We show the city from different perspectives precisely to highlight the almost incomprehensible and complex ‘construction’ of the current and historical Jerusalem; and certainly the Palestinian side of the story too. A natural way of working for us: taking the visitor seriously by making an exhibition with impact that sheds light on a subject from various sides and therefore encourages insight, amazement and debate. We already saw that everything in Jerusalem is political when making the exhibition. And that appears to be even more the case now. It is very worrying that Israel is making a political issue of this exhibition by censoring the non-Jewish side of the stories, thus attacking and placing pressure on the autonomy of the museum.’
In the exhibition Welcome to Jerusalem, historical, political and religious aspects of the city are shown, and it includes works by both Palestinian and Israeli artists. A multi-layered exhibition has been created through the tailor-made theatrical settings of the 15 themed rooms, the use of multimedia tools and special collection pieces. Whereas one virginal white room exudes a sense of sacredness in order to highlight the story of the three religious schools of thought, a 360-degree film installation is used to sketch a moving portrait of the cycle of increasingly complex conflicts in a room that is dedicated to ‘the city in political conflict’. Personal, cinematic encounters with contemporary inhabitants of the city provide a deeply affecting experience. The visitors see a real-time image of daily life through the parallel ideas about this turbulent city.