The student behind the poster put up at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, which depicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a noose in front of him, was questioned under caution by the police on Tuesday. In response to her investigation, Bezalel students and faculty plan on participating in a protest against what they consider an aggressvie attempt to limit the freedom of expression. Several of the students also participated in a silent performance piece on Wednesday, that also addressed the silencing of artistic dissdence.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit instructed the police to open an investigation on the matter on Tuesday. The student was reportedly identified, called in for questioning and released shortly after.
“The caricature, removed at our behest from the academy’s walls, reflects the students’ rage with regard to the threat to the freedom of expression and of creation, both in general and specifically in the halls of the academy. Students of Bezalel, who belong to all sections of the political spectrum, carried out a quiet protest today against the limiting of the freedom of expression. Bezalel encourages an open discussion regarding the limits to the freedom of expression and will continue, as usual, to lead, protect and preserve the freedom of expression and creativity.”
The school also said it “will cooperate with any investigation and act in accordance to its conclusions.”
Following the incident, the Likud Youth Movement called for Bezalel to be shut down until an indepth investigation of the incitement against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is condcuted.
A representative of the Likud Youth said that “It seems that some of Bezalel’s students have confused the freedom of expression with clear incitement, which we as a society cannot condone. We call on the authorities to act swiftly against those carrying out the incitement and close Bezalel’s gates until an indepth investigation is done. We must act today before it will godforbid be too late.”
The Bezalel Student Union also issued a statement in response to the affair. “The attorney general was quick to demand an investigation against the student, though it is clear to everyone that her work does not promote incitement, something that was also made clear during the investigation.”
“Students at Bezalel are fighting for their freedom of expression, which is legitimate, ” the student union added. “The use of the photo may have been inappropriate, but the message there was incredibly important: namely, that the academy’s freedom of expression must be preserved.”
By Yael Freidson and Shahar Chai, Ynet News