Students at the prize-winning Emunah College of Arts and Technology for Women in Jerusalem, founded over 40 years ago by the Emunah National Religious Women's Organization in Israel together with Emunah of America, have set up a display called "The Art of Incitement" in response to the recent controversy over depictions of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design.
A gilded statue of the Prime Minister intended to depict him as a king was set up at Rabin Square in the early hours of the morning recently and that same week a Bezalel art student hung a poster of Netanyahu's face with a noose in front of it.
Tzipporah Haviv, a student at Emunah College, an academic institution considered on the same level as Bezalel, told Arutz Sheva that the girls were shocked by the display of works against Netanyahu. "We saw the disgraceful statue of Netanyahu, the works at Bezalel and Shenkar, the pictures of the Prime Minister with a noose and the image of the Prime Minister naked with a rope."
"We have no problem with someone having other opinions, but we do not approve of [works] which degrade a person and human dignity. Yes, he was elected by the people and he is a politician, but he is also a human being and you cannot tread on another person like that." she said.
According to Haviv, artists are now trying to attract attention through provocation. "We watched them topple the statue of Netanyahu in Rabin Square like they were overthrowing Stalin. There is incitement and violence here. I know that these provocations attract attention, but I am a little sad that that's what art has become."
"It is unfortunate that mild and calming compositions receive less attention." she said, adding that she does not want to "descend to the level of the artists who made the offensive depictions of Netanyahu."
According to Haviv, the theme of the Emunah exhibition is human dignity and the boundaries of art. "Someone brought a picture of the Prime Minister and wrote [the quote from Ethics of the Fathers that' 'proper behavior comes before creation.' Someone else painted shoes with the words 'human dignity.' It is possible to shock without harming human dignity."
"It is true that we get less attention because people like provocations, but I do not think that artists necessarily have to be anarchists. Touching people's emotions is easier than touching their brains because it is faster, but there is also a way to do it without harming human dignity.
"We support freedom of expression and the use of art to express our views and opinions. However, we artists are not exempt from the basic values...of man and society."