‘Talit-Tefilin Panties’ at Offensive College Art Exhibit

January 15, 2015  

The controversial art display at Sapir Academic College in the northern Negev near Sderot, which triggered a protest when it opened to the public last Tuesday, has reached a new low in offending Judaism in the name of “art.”

The offensive artworks notably included hamsa palm-shaped Jewish amulets with “slaughter the Jew,” “in blood and fire we will redeem Palestine,” and “Daesh” – the Arabic abbreviation of Islamic State (ISIS) – written on them. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

In another shocking piece, a video shows apparently a man wearing tefilin (phylacteries) as sandal straps on his feet, along with a tallit (prayer shawl) – embroidered with the blessing said when putting it on – as underwear.

The vulgar appropriation of sanctified Jewish ritual objects to create “panties” exudes an obvious air of ridicule – furthermore, it can’t even be said that there is a clear artistic “message” of the piece.

The offensive artwork, along with the other pieces at the exhibit, have led to a string of angry responses on Facebook calling to boycott the exhibit.

Arutz Sheva has decided not to share imagery from the artwork so as not to further spread the serious offense to Judaism expressed in the exhibit.

Responding to the uproar, Sapir College released a statement reading “in recent months the internet is ablaze with unbridled verbal violence, average citizens don’t refrain from attacking other citizens unknown to them in the name of freedom of speech, and in particular in the name of giving a voice to opinions that aren’t theirs, and this is what the exhibit is about – freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and the power of words to cause a change of consciousness.”

“The artists express their opinions or create works that raise a public conflict and discussion, and in this way the exhibit opens a discussion on not agreeing and presents art from both sides of the barricade,” the statement claimed.

“At Sapir College there is freedom of speech along with a cultivation of pluralism and tolerance, and we expose the department and the students to the array of positions and opinions in the public as part of their education,” it added. “The public is invited to come to the new gallery and to take in the impressive exhibit with their own eyes.”

“Trampling on Jewish values”

When the exhibit opened last week, a citizen named Ran Karmi broke up the opening ceremonies by taking the stage and holding up pictures of the 63 soldiers who were killed in Operation Protective Edge in nearby Gaza.

Karmi shouted “you’re spitting on the 63 soldiers who were killed here, you’re inciting to murder. Even if there was an attack on Islam I would come and protest because that isn’t art.”

Former MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, head of the Otzma Yehudit party, organized a protest at the event opening. He said “this isn’t art but rather trampling on every national and Jewish value in a cellophane wrapping called art. You wouldn’t dare do this to Islam or Christianity.”

“This is a celebration of hypocrisy,” added Ben-Ari. “I welcome the fact that the students asked us to come and present the sane voice and protest the abomination wrapped up in academia and pretty words.”

Before the exhibit opened to the general public it was open to students, and one student, Dvir Kali, destroyed a hamsa with “slaughter the Jew” written on it – and wrote about it on Facebook.

“I did not steal the inciting display,” Dvir Kali wrote defiantly. “I definitely took it off the wall with contempt, I definitely tore it into small pieces, and I am certainly satisfied with the act of stopping public incitement against the Jewish people.”

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