Controversial ‘McJesus’ Art Sculpture Defended by Israel
Israel’s Justice Ministry was forced to intervene on Tuesday in the controversy over a sculpture of “McJesus” – Jesus modeled after Ronald McDonald – which angered Christians in the Holy Land.
The Culture Ministry has threatened to suspend the Haifa art museum, where “McJesus” is on display and where violent protests erupted last week.
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“This work does not belong to a cultural institution supported by public funds,” Culture Minister Miri Regev wrote in a letter to the museum, adding that the sculpture, which is part of the “Sacred Goods” exhibit that opened in August, made a “mock of the crucifix, the most important religious symbol for Christians around the world”, and could not be protected by free speech.
But the Justice Department disagreed.
“It is prohibited to block funding for cultural institutions because of the content they exhibit,” Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber wrote in a letter to Regev on Tuesday, reminding the minister that the government could not interfere with the content. presented in cultural institutions as it provides financial assistance.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel contacted the Justice Ministry on behalf of the museum.
“The Minister of Culture seems to have taken a leap forward,” wrote ACRI legal adviser Dan Yakir. He said that while in the past the Minister had instructed mayors or other elected officials to prevent cultural events when she did not like their content, it was beyond acceptable bounds to address directly to the museum. He said the decision violated freedom of speech and expression.
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Finnish sculpture artist Jani Leinonen wants her work removed, but for a different reason. He supports the pro-Palestinian group Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, which discourages business with the Jewish state.
Much to the chagrin of Regev, hundreds of Christians, and Leinonen, “McJesus” isn’t going anywhere.
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Nissim Tal, the museum’s director, told The Associated Press that they will “defend freedom of expression, freedom of art and freedom of culture” by keeping the artwork where it is. .