The University of Manchester has asked the director of the Whitworth Art Gallery to leave his post after a major row erupted over the contents of an exhibition relating to Israel and Palestine.
Alistair Hudson was director of the Whitworth, which is part of the university, during the staging of the Cloud Studies exhibition last August. The event was put together by Forensic Architecture, which made a series of controversial claims about Israel and Palestine, including a statement of solidarity with Palestine at the entrance to the display.
UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) asked for the removal of the statement, and complained about the effect of the show on good relations with the local Jewish community, but Forensic Architecture said it wanted immediate closure of the entire exhibit if the statement was taken down. The show closed temporarily but reopened, with Hudson saying the Whitworth would “display prominently” alternative responses to “contextualise the issues raised”.
UKLFI chief executive Jonathan Turner said it had told the university Hudson “had falsely assured the vice-chancellor that [the Whitworth] had established the accuracy and legalities of the work presented in the Forensic Architecture exhibition”.
This was not true, Turner said, as the university admitted, after a Freedom of Information request from UKLFI, that it had not received any information as to the accuracy of allegations made in the exhibition. Eyal Weizman, the founder of Forensic Architecture, has repeatedly said there were no inaccuracies in the show.
As a result of what it believed was Hudson “lying to the vice-chancellor as to whether checks were made”, UKLFI suggested he was not a fit and proper person to be the Whitworth’s director and that there should be disciplinary proceedings.
A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “We absolutely uphold academic freedom. Staffing matters are strictly internal to the university and we never comment on questions of this nature.” But it is understood some sort of disciplinary proceedings are likely to have been held – as a result of which it was concluded that Hudson had to leave his post. He is currently abroad and unavailable for comment.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.