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Palestinian refugee children’s art stolen from library

from Birthright Unplugged, 25 April 2007

Organizers Suspect Political Motives

Boston Public Library Branch Reports First Time Ever Theft Of Art Exhibit

For Immediate Release

BOSTON, USA– On April 19, 2007, eighteen photographs were stolen from an exhibit documenting Palestinian children’s journey to Jerusalem, the sea, and their ancestral lands. The exhibit, which opened on April 14, was hanging in the Honan-Allston branch of the public library, and was scheduled to remain there until May 25.

The exhibit was created by children from Balata refugee camp in Nablus, West Bank. In January 2007, the Boston-based organization Birthright Unplugged took the children on a trip to areas that their grandparents were expelled from and that their families have been prohibited from returning to since Israel was established in 1948. The children documented their experiences and created an exhibit.

“An important part of our work is the ability to bring Palestinian voices to people in the United States,” says Birthright Unplugged co-founder Hannah Mermelstein. “This is a sad reminder that members of our community will resort even to theft to silence these voices.”

While the thieves of the artwork are unknown, Birthright Unplugged organizers suspect that the motives were political. The Honan-Allston library confirms that this is the first time a theft of this kind has happened there, although they often display art exhibits.

“We are grateful to the Boston Public Library for allowing us to share these children’s images and words,” says Birthright Unplugged co-founder Dunya Alwan. “We are working with library staff to replace and re-hang the photos as soon as possible.”

Birthright Unplugged has taken more than 80 children on these “Re-Plugged” trips since January 2006, and more than 60 North American people, mostly Jewish, on 6-day “Unplugged” trips through the West Bank since July 2005.