Tel Aviv Hospital Removes Art with Hidden Message: ‘Death to the Jews’

Controversial artwork by local artist was based on his mother’s experience in the Holocaust.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Medica, a private Tel Aviv health clinic that decorated its walls with works by local artists, was forced to take one down after complaints that the painting contained the Hebrew phrase “death to the Jews,” the Israeli website Buzznet reported Monday.

The offending phrase on the interesting watercolor by Tel Aviv artist Yaakov Mishori is decipherable when viewed upside down.

The painting, the artist explained, was based on the testimony of his mother, a German Jew, who on Kristallnacht saw the inscription “Death to the Jews” on the streets of the city where she grew up, Haaretz reported. Another work by Mishori includes the same phrase.

However, one person’s art is another person’s incitement, and several people complained, including journalist Shimon Riklin. He slammed Medica, saying they paid money “for a painting with a huge caption: Death to the Jews,” calling it “self-hatred and auto-anti-Semitism.”

Despite Riklin’s claim, the works of art at Medica are borrowed from a private collection, and the medical center removed the controversial painting following the complaints.

“The center displays works by dozens of artists on its walls. In light of the reactions and feelings that we received, it was decided to replace the work with another. We apologize if anyone’s feelings were hurt. This was not our intention,” the company said in a statement.

In a 2011 review of Mishori’s work that including the painting in question, the reviewer talked about “satirical watercolor.”

The question is whether it refers to dark periods in which an abstract was identified with Jews and degenerate art as in Nazi Germany, or Mishori visually examines techniques of blurring. Both sides of the work look like a distorted abstract painting,” Haaretz wrote of the painting.

Right-wing activist Yoav Eliassy, known on social media as The Shadow, was not impressed with the explanations.

“If there was an artist whose family was killed in a terror attack and they would make the same picture with the caption ‘Death to the Arabs,’ would it also be legitimate and appropriate for you to display in a medical institution? Or anywhere?” Eliassy wrote.