Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Israeli Artists Get Creative and Profane as Holyland Project Scandal Grows

If you've been reading the Israeli newspapers or surfing their web sites, you've probably heard of the Holyland scandal.  It's already resulted in accusations or arrests of two former mayors of Jerusalem and questioning of other highly placed officials.

It involves the payment of bribes in connection with the construction of a big apartment house development in the neighborhood of Bayit v'Gan, on the site of the former Holyland Hotel.

So where's the humor in all of this?  Nowhere, until now.  This week, an organization called Hitorerut Yerushalayim (Wake up Jerusalem) called for the suspension of all further construction at the Holyland site and the conversion of unfinished sections of the luxury housing project into areas for public use.

As Abe Selig reports in yesterday's Jerusalem Post (Flipping Holyland the Bird):
Hitorerut, created in 2008 to represent the capital’s students and young people at City Hall, is promoting the campaign on its Facebook page – accompanied by a series of online flyers, designed by members, which depict the Holyland’s massive spread of apartments and lone high-rise tower in various “creative” adaptations.

In one such flyer, the apartments and tower are portrayed as piles of excrement, with the slogan “Holy-S**t!” in bold Hebrew letters above.
In another flyer, the apartments and tower are left intact, although manipulated slightly to resemble a hand extending its middle finger. The text above reads, “This is how bad they screwed you.”
All the flyers end with the phrase “Returning the land to the city.”
Organizers of the campaign told The Jerusalem Post that, first and foremost, the flyers were meant to shed a humorous light on an otherwise “depressing and sad chapter in the city’s history.”

“We wanted to make people smile a bit because we know how upsetting this whole affair has been,” Merav Cohen, a Hitorerut member and organizer of the campaign, told the Post.

But beyond the humor, Cohen said that the campaign was meant to enact real change with regard to the property where the now-infamous housing project sits.

“We want the unused sections of the Holyland site to be turned into something that benefits all residents of Jerusalem and not just a select, wealthy few,” she said.
(Top photo by Adiel Io, middle and bottom photos by Eitam Tubul)