Israeli art college censors student painting

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli art college removed a student’s painting from a year-end exhibit, prompting a department head to resign.

The painting by a student at the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, a public college in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, depicted a naked woman with the face of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

Larry Abramson, the head of Shenkar’s Multidisciplinary Art School, tendered his resignation Sunday after the painting was removed from the exhibit of senior student final projects before it opened Thursday. The face was covered up first before the painting was removed.

Abramson in a letter to his students called the removal of the painting “self-censorship” and said he believed in “the principle of protecting our students’ freedom of speech,” Haaretz reported.

The college’s faculty issued an open letter backing Abramson and opposing the decision to censor the painting, according to Haaretz.

Shenkar’s president, Yuli Tamir, told Ynet she learned of the painting after receiving complaints.

“I then reached the conclusion that there is no political statement here but rather a sexist statement on a woman who also happens to be a political figure,” said Tamir, a former Labor government minister.

Tamir told Ynet she would have taken the same action if the political figure depicted in the painting had been from the left wing. Shaked is a member of the Jewish Home party, which is part of the current government seen as the most right wing in Israeli history.

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