TEL AVIV, Israel - The Tel Aviv Journalists' Association's art exhibit, opening Thursday at the Sokolov House in Tel Aviv, features seven paintings of Palestinian suicide bombers depicted as Mary, holding the baby Jesus.
Terror victim organizations are among those protesting the paintings by Galina Bleich and Liliah Check, according to a report in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot.
Yossi Bar-Moha, the secretary general of the Tel Aviv Journalists' Association, said he was conducting a telephone survey about the exhibit with 17 members of the association.
"On a personal level, the paintings bother me," Bar-Moha told Ynet news. "If I need to weigh freedom of expression against the outcry of the bereaved families, I prefer the victims. They're more important to me than freedom of expression in this instance," he said.
"But I can't determine this. I'm turning to my colleagues, one by one, and asking their opinion. As of now, I have spoken with four of them and all have authorized the removal of the exhibition," Bar-Moha said.
Nonetheless, the association is seeking a legal opinion before making its final decision on the exhibit.
"In any case, we apparently won't hide the whole exhibit. There are pieces that won't be taken down, such as the one on clumps of earth collected from the site of the suicide terror act on the Maxim restaurant in Haifa. There is no reference or halo around this earth, as opposed to the pictures of the female suicide bombers," Bar-Moha said.
Meanwhile, painter Galina Bleich said she had a whole different concept in mind.
"I don't understand how this turned into an insult to bereaved families. We came actually to emphasize the exact opposite. The baby in Madonna's hands is in danger. This really needs to disturb people," the artist said.
"This isn't just an Israeli problem, it's a global one. Therefore we chose Madonna, who is a symbol of Christianity," she said.
"This issue came up for me after I personally experienced a trauma when I was near a terror attack on French Hill in Jerusalem. Ever since, I couldn't stop thinking about it. It isn't at all a political issue. It's a personal issue," Bleich said.
"We are trying to ask how a woman, who is meant to love and to give birth, became a source of hatred and murder. I don't go into politics, but because we are such a political country, everyone is trying to figure out if we are lift-wing or not," she said.
"I hope it will all be okay this evening. If it impacts people so much, this means that the message is getting across. We wanted to think together with the audience about what is happening, and apparently, now they are reflecting on it," she said.
"Modern art can speak in a free language without a framework. Modern art is actually a language that shakes up the subjects that are painful to us. It's not only flowers in a vase. Art asks questions and doesn't provide answers," Bleich said.
Source: Ynet news