Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel SmotrichSpokesman

The Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design student responsible for hanging a poster of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with a noose was questioned under warning by police on Tuesday.

The student, a first year female Arab, claims the picture was an exercise in art. She was released under restrictive conditions after a two-hour interrogation. Details on her identity have not been cleared for publication.

She was questioned after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit confirmed the police would open an investigation on suspicion of incitement to violence.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) on Tuesday evening criticized the decision to question the student who created the poster.

“Is this for real? They arrested the artist from Bezalel? On what grounds exactly? An investigation is one thing (even that’s too much), but an arrest?! Democracy?! Israel Police, you’ve lost your mind!!" tweeted Smotrich.

The poster was not displayed as part of an official exhibition at Bezalel, but nevertheless caused a firestorm on Monday.

Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev (Likud) said in response that “artistic freedom is not freedom to incitement! This started with the statue in Rabin Square, and now it’s a noose. This is using artistic talent to incite murder. If this had been a picture of “Buji’ (Zionist Union chairman Yitzhak Herzog), there would already have been arrests.”

Herzog condemned the poster as well and said, "I utterly condemn the picture of the prime minister's with a noose."

He added that "freedom of expression is important and necessary, but there is no place for using it to incite harm against public leaders on the right or the left.”

Bezalel said in response that "the Academy of Art and Design is a protected space for freedom of expression in Israel, and allows students to speak freely, critically and creatively in the range of subjects that engage them. It is still unclear, and we are investigating, if this was part of an exercise for a course or the self-expression of a student, but in any case it is an expression within the framework of the Academy, as part of an ongoing dialogue on design, art and culture, including the issues of proper boundaries, the reproduction of images, and memory. This exercise, whether successful or not, is part of the professional discourse. It was hung up on an interior stair wall of the Academy and was not displayed publicly or as political propaganda, and it should be judged accordingly.”