Friday, April 16, 2004

Peace site to restore anti-Semitism display

Removal reason a source of dispute

By Karen Gutierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Debbie Kayse of the World Peace Bell Center, in a section of a display called "Anti-Semitism: Past and Present." The image at left is from a Spanish publication from 1930; the image at right, titled "The Jewish Danger," is a French publication from 1934.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/PATRICK REDDY
NEWPORT - An international art exhibit about anti-Semitism was removed briefly from the World Peace Bell Center this week, alarming the interfaith ministry group responsible for its display.

"Anti-Semitism: Past and Present" was meant to encourage tolerance, says Jeff Queen, director of the Northern Kentucky Interfaith Commission.

The exhibit, which has been displayed worldwide, depicts centuries of anti-Jewish expression, including political cartoons and images from medieval Christian art.

Queen had received permission from the Verdin Co., which runs the center, to put the display at the Peace Bell in conjunction with Holocaust awareness events. But on Tuesday, one day after the installation, he was told it would have to go.

"They were going to remove it because they thought it was offensive," Queen said. "To me, that was just ludicrous."

Reporters started asking questions, and by Thursday, Verdin officials had changed their minds.

It was all a misunderstanding, Peace Bell Center director Brian Plunkett said.

He does think the material is "very sensitive and may not be appropriate for children to see." But that wasn't the reason it was removed, he said.

Next week, 200 students will be at the Peace Bell for the filming of a Discovery Channel program. The exhibit has to be removed to make room, he said.

But out of respect for the ministers' group, he will take it down Monday and put it back up by the end of the week, he said.

The Verdin Co. will let parents and teachers make their own decisions about the appropriateness of the images, Plunkett said.

They will be on display 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the center, Fourth and York streets.


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