An artist who inserted an flag into his backside while performing on stage at a cultural conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday was summoned for questioning by police Monday, after Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev ordered her ministry to file a complaint.
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Ariel Bronz was performing during the Haaretz Culture Conference when, following some audience jeers, he refused to leave the stage and then stuck the flag inside himself. The police said they had opened an investigation into the incident due to a number of complaints about Bronz violating the Flag, Emblem and National Anthem Law.
According to the police, Bronz was questioned by the police Monday and then released.
According to reports on Arutz Sheva and Army Radio, another complaint against Bronz was submitted to the police by Avi Farhan, who headed the settler community of evacuees from Alei Sinai in Gush Katif during the 2005 Gaza disengagement.
“I asked the police to arrest [Bronz] immediately, and to [either] hospitalize him as insane or prosecute him,” Farhan told Arutz Sheva. “For me and the Israeli public, the flag is the highest value and our friends fell in order to safeguard it,” he added.
At the beginning of the conference, which was held at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Bronz performed a selection from his show “Love the Juice,” which is being staged at the Klipa Theater and shows the “upheaval” his alter ego undergoes – from an enthusiastic left-wing activist to proud Zionist who decides to act to bring Jews to Israel.
The scene, during which Bronz stripped and was left wearing only a short pink skirt, aroused fury among some guests who started booing him. At one point, he pelted them with oranges that he had squeezed as part of the act. Chaos erupted and there were calls to remove him from the stage. Later, he was asked to conclude the scene but he claimed the amount of time allotted to him was not over and insisted on remaining onstage.
Bronz then began waving a small flag and, according to him, then spontaneously inserted it into his backside in front of the audience. In the end, security guards came and ushered him from the stage.
The conclusion of Bronz’s act, which is not part of the performance he stages in the Klipa Theater, continued to arouse strong reactions in the media and on social network sites Monday.
Regev, who had addressed the conference prior to Bronz’s performance, slammed his actions and said she had instructed Yossi Sharabi, the director general of her ministry, to examine the legal aspects and seek to prosecute Bronz on suspicion of desecrating the flag.
“Shoving an Israeli flag into your backside is not art, it is desecration of the flag in whose name Israeli soldiers and citizens are being killed,” said Regev. “When I said at the conference that I would safeguard culture in the country and wouldn’t allow destruction and ruin, I was booed. So here, the same people who booed the country sat and watched this disgusting performance.”
In an interview with Haaretz last October, Bronz discussed the possibility that he might be harmed in some way due to the content of his show. “I’m constantly aware of that, and I think my fear is also part of my passion for it,” he explained.
“My job is to come out against the place where I live, to criticize it, to shake a fist at it,” he continued. “If I don’t do that, then it’s a betrayal of what I do and I have no need to do it. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care even if they put me in prison for what I do, or take away my budget. I’ll always find a way to continue.”