From 25 to 27 May an exhibition of Palestinian resistance posters by the late Swiss activist and artist Marc Rudin was to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, organized by Secours Rouge Geneva in collaboration with Samidoun Geneva. This exhibition was an opportunity to pay tribute to our comrade, who died on April 7, and his artistic and political work. At the exhibition’s opening, a discussion was planned around the theme “How to support the Palestinian resistance” with our comrade Mohammed Khatib, Europe coordinator of Samidoun. On Saturday 27 May, we had planned to screen the film “Fedayin: Georges Abdallah’s Fight,” produced by the Collectif Vacarmes Films. This exhibition has now been banned by the City of Geneva.
Less than 48 hours before the opening of the exhibition, we were contacted by the person responsible for the exhibition venue – the Almacén, who told us that the City of Geneva, owner of the building, had prohibited the holding of our exhibition. The City of Geneva claimed a lack of information concerning our project, information which was, in reality, all public. Shortly after, for the first time since the announcement of the ban on our exhibition and at our request, we were finally contacted directly by the personal representative of Alfonso Gomez, Administrative Advisor in charge of the Departments of Finance, Environment and Housing (DFEL) for the City of Geneva, and a member of the Green Party. During this call, the representative of the City explained to us that he has “a priori no problem” with our exhibition, that the City “normally never” gives its approval regarding the events held at the Almacén, that “until now [he] didn’t know what was going on there”. However, he said, our exhibition would address a “sensitive” theme and would pay tribute to a “controversial” personality. It is clear that such censorship is exceptional.
What motivated such a decision, as exceptional as it is political, are the “pressures” that the City received from organizations such as the European Jewish Association and an Israeli NGO which contacted the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).
On the phone, we are told that the cancellation of our exhibition is the result of foreign Zionist organizations, under whose yoke the City of Geneva is placed. This is nothing surprising coming from the bourgeois parliamentary left, which always reveals the extent of its contradictions and even its hypocrisy.
The City also accused us of taking the Almacén “hostage”, considering that the Palestinian struggle “goes beyond” the association that runs the place, and added that we should have asked for “the agreement of someone in authority higher than a simple person who is a local volunteer.” We think and know that the people responsible for the Almacén are quite capable of grasping the stakes of such an exhibition, with all due respect to the City. Our project has always been clear, our line declared, and we have always been transparent with our interlocutors. Moreover, there is no information concerning the procedure that should supposedly have been taken to request the City’s agreement. In short, it is the Administrative Council which decided, under pressure from Zionist organizations, to force the hand of the Almacén to ban our exhibition, that is to say without even officially recording and stating its own decision. It is indeed the City of Geneva, acting as an accomplice of the Israeli political blackmail, that takes the leaders of the Almacén hostage, and threatens them to withdraw their authority over the venue itself.
Finally, we highlight the appalling censorship of artistic and revolutionary works. The posters of Marc Rudin, to whom we wanted to pay tribute through this exhibition, have indeed already been exhibited in Geneva in 1993 and, more recently, in 2015 during the Palestine “Filmer C’est Exister” festival, an exhibition which Marc Rudin attended in person. The City of Geneva today censors a Swiss artist, his freedom of expression and his revolutionary work. It is our duty to defend this work. We defend his work as we defend all forms of Palestinian resistance. We will not yield to the blackmail of Israel, nor to that of its pawns in Geneva, and we will not be silent.
All this clearly shows that the Western bourgeoisie defend, above all, the imperialist interests that Israel represents.
When the expression of our solidarity goes beyond that of a condescending humanism and when it speaks of resistance in all its forms, even Greater Geneva International feels threatened, even the Administrative Council of the City of Geneva, despite being composed of so many of “left” representatives, bends the knee.
More than ever, let us strengthen our support for all forms of resistance of the Palestinian people, past, present and future!
From boycott to armed struggle, their right to resistance is inalienable. In its anti-imperialist and anti-colonial nature, the struggle of our comrades against Israel is also our struggle!
Marc lives in our struggles!
From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!
Secours Rouge Geneva