Barbican backs away from hosting talk about Gaza war | Barbican

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The London Review of Books has expressed its disappointment after the Barbican backed out of hosting a lecture series which included a talk about the Holocaust and allegations that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

The Guardian understands the Barbican was planning to host the event until an advert in the LRB revealed that the title of the talk by the writer Pankaj Mishra was The Shoah after Gaza. Senior leadership then decided to withdraw from the arrangement.

The Barbican said no official agreement to host the talk was in place and that it backed away after the event was publicised “prematurely”.

The organisation claimed the LRB’s decision to advertise the event meant it did not have time to “do the careful preparation needed for this sensitive content”.

“We carefully consider the content of all screenings, performances, talks and exhibitions hosted by the Barbican before agreeing to host them,” it said.

A description of Mishra’s talk on the LRB website reads: “A powerful western narrative holds the Shoah to be the incomparable crime of the modern era. But we find our moral and political consciousness profoundly altered when Israel, a country founded as a haven for the victims of genocidal racism, is itself charged with genocide.

“What is the fate of universal values after Israel’s collapse into violent nationalism?”

In a statement, the LRB said: “We were disappointed that the Barbican withdrew from hosting the lectures at a late stage but are glad that this important series is going ahead at St James church, Clerkenwell.”

Mishra criticised the Barbican’s decision, saying a “pervasive sense of fear and panic” is closing down debate on the issue within cultural spaces.

“I’m not surprised but it’s still shocking,” Mishra said. “The whole point of culture and the arts is to embrace diversity, different view points and protect imaginative freedom.

“It’s become clear that war crimes have been committed on a daily basis and…

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