June 9, 2017

Jerusalem of White and Gold

Nina Robins ‘19

There’s a new dress meme on the Internet, but the controversy does not stem from an optical allusion. Rather, it’s political.
Israel’s Culture Minister, Miri Regev, donned an impressive white gown at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The dress was adorned with gold trimming, long sleeves, and a flowing skirt.
And, of course, a panorama of the entire united city of Jerusalem.
Regev’s attire immediately sparked debate because of its political connotations.
“This year we are celebrating 50 years since the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem,” Regev said. “I am proud to celebrate this historic date through art and fashion and I am happy that this work by Israeli designer Aviad Herman is so moving and honors the beautiful status of our eternal capital Jerusalem.”
However, as Regev’s critics are quick to point out, the dress also alludes to the imminent anniversary of the annexing of East Jerusalem and the beginning of Palestinian strife in the disputed territory.
Reporter Shira Pur May described the dress as “tasteless, aggressive and colonialist” and claimed that it carried the appearance of a Photoshop project. She argued that by including the Al Aqsa Mosque among other Eastern Jerusalem landmarks on her dress, Regev ignored the plights of thousands of Palestinians and denounced their right to the city.
Many critics of Regev’s dress consider the interjection of Israeli politics into a foreign event and an apolitical artistic event at that, to be in poor taste. Pur May said that Regev’s “effort to convey a political message on the backs of the attending artists… was an aggressive, cynical and opportunistic act.”
Although Regev’s choice in clothing was flashy, it was not surprising. Regev is a member of the Likud party and a vocal advocate for the policies of the Netanyahu administration. She likely thought nothing of donning such a nationalist dress at a foreign festival.
“She did [it] out of a great respect for Jerusalem,” Yair Hass, a right wing supporter of Regev, said. “Wearing a dress featuring an image of Jerusalem is no different than wearing a shirt with such an image.”
Aside from politics, several Internet users have enjoyed altering one specific closeup of Regev and created memes. The images range from advertisements for music festivals to other political statements regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hilarity has ensued across Israeli social media platforms.

“Miri Regev wanted to show some Jerusalem pride,” the Israeli new publication Haaretz tweeted. “Instead, she ignited a powder keg of laughs.”

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