(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
A poster displayed on the walls of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next to a hangman’s noose has provoked indignation.
At the bottom of the poster the word “Rope” is written, a play on US President Barack Obama’s campaign posters with the message of “Hope.”
While the identity of the designer of the poster, presumably a student at the school, remains unknown as of yet, politicians from across the political spectrum were quick to condemn the poster as an act of incitement.
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (Likud) called to cancel funding to Bezalel.
“Freedom of art is not freedom to incite,” she wrote.
“It began with a statue in the city square, and now it has come to a noose,” she said, referring to a gold statue of Netanyahu that was erected and then torn down in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.
Regev said it was “artistic talent to incite and murder,” adding that if it had been a poster of opposition leader Isaac Herzog the perpetrators would have already been arrested.
“I call on Education Minister Naftali Bennett and say: The time has come that you also place a boundary between art and incitement and halt the budgets to Bezalel,” she said.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also released a statement saying he “utterly condemns” the poster.
“Freedom of expression is important and necessary, but there is no place to use it to incite to harm public leaders on the Right or the Left,” he said. “Especially during these days of militancy, we are committed to responsibility. This is not our way: We will replace Netanyahu through democratic means only.”
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid said the Bezalel exhibit was “bad art” and “an ugly and dangerous attempt to grab headlines through violence.”
Bezalel issued a response in light of the event: “Bezalel Academy of Art and Design Jerusalem is a safe space for freedom of expression in Israel and allows students free speech, critical and creative, in a variety of subjects that concern them.
“It is still unclear, and we are inquiring, whether this is an exercise as part of a course or the individual articulation of a student, but either way this is an internal expression within the framework of the academy as part of an ongoing discussion on issues of design, art and culture, including the issues of borders, reproduction of images and memory,” the statement read. “The exercise, more or less successful, is part of a profession discussion, hanging on an internal wall of the stairs in the academy and is not exhibited publicly, nor as political incitement, and that is how it should be judged.”
Lahav Harkov and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.