Police Arrest Left-wing Activist Who Filmed Herself Defecating on Israeli Flag

Courts will decide whether freedom of expression trumps state symbols in such an extreme case, police say.


The Tel Aviv District Police arrested a left-wing activist-artist who uploaded a video to the Internet in which she can be seen defecating on an Israeli flag while Israel's national anthem, Hatikva, plays in the background.

According to the police, the woman was arrested after she attacked officers who sought to question her. She will be brought before a judge on Monday, and the proceeding will likely focus on questions relating to freedom of speech.

The police received the video, in which the woman's face can be clearly seen, over the weekend. The district commander, Maj. Gen. Bentzi Sau, described the video as "extremely vulgar" and ordered an investigation of the young woman on suspicion of damaging the symbols of power and the state flag.

"It was a callous, serious act that disparages state symbols and the feelings of the public," said Chief Superintendent Hila Hamou, spokesperson for the district police. "The Israel Police respects freedom of expression, but it is not an absolute value and may not clash with other values."

According to the police, they are well informed of the latest court ruling regarding related issues such as flag-burnings – and know that in most such cases, judges place freedom of speech over the defense of state symbols. However, a senior regional police officer said "we never encountered such an act before, so this time, too, we want to go to the courts and let them decide the balance, in such an extreme example, between freedom of expression and the laws regarding state symbols."

The incident is not the first time the young woman has stirred a storm on social media. She filed a complaint with the police in 2008 after she claimed to have received threats on her life for uploading an offensive video clip about the Holocaust. She said the videos constituted a part of her artistic work.