Indictment Imminent for Artist Natali Cohen Vaxberg, Who Defecated on Israeli Flag

The Israeli artist has been arrested five times in just over a year.

Natali Cohen Vaxberg.Photo: via Natali Cohen Vaxberg’s Facebook page.
Natali Cohen Vaxberg.
Photo: via Natali Cohen Vaxberg’s Facebook page.

The Israeli performance artist Natali Cohen Vaxberg, who caused a stir last year when she released a video in which she relieved herself on a number of national flags, including the Israeli one, is expected to be indicted soon on charges of desecrating the national flag.

According to Haaretz, the indictment is being prepared by police prosecutors, in collaboration with Deputy State Prosecutor Amit Aisman.

Cohen Vaxberg first posted her controversial video Shit instead of blood online on July 2014, a few days after Israel’s government launched its military incursion into Gaza (Video NSFW and could be offensive to some).

The video shows the artist squatting in a bathroom, defecating on several national flags—including those of Israel, Palestine, France, the US, and the UK—to a Frédéric Chopin soundtrack.

Natali Cohen Vaxberg in court in November 2014.<br>Photo: via Natali Cohen Vaxberg’s Facebook page.

Natali Cohen Vaxberg in court in November 2014.
Photo: via Natali Cohen Vaxberg’s Facebook page.

Cohen Vaxberg was first detained for questioning for defiling a national symbol on November 2014. She spent one night in custody and was then confined to her residence in Tel Aviv, and banned from using the Internet for 30 days.

Since then, she has been arrested another four times for posting similar videos, most recently in early December 2015. According to Haaretz, on this last occasion, police questioned her as part of an investigation being conducted by a cyber crime unit, dealing with crimes of online pedophilia, incitement, and bullying.

When they trawled the artist’s Facebook fan page, they found a video of her defecating on a teddy bear wearing a jumper with the Israeli flag.

“They asked me about my picture with a teddy bear wrapped with an Israeli flag that looks like I am about to defecate on it,” Cohen Vaxberg is quoted in Haaretz. “They asked what the message of the picture was. I said it seemed clear to me and I didn’t intend to explain. They asked whether I remembered when I posted the picture, and I said I didn’t remember and that they should ask the bear. Even the policeman couldn’t help laughing.”

Police have now sent all five cases to the prosecutors to decide whether to press charges against Cohen Vaxberg for desecrating the flag, a crime stipulated in Israel’s 1949 Flag, Emblem and National Anthem Law and for which she could receive a sentence of one year in jail and/or a fine.

“She was questioned four times, but continued to do this a fifth time as well,” a police source said, according to Haaretz. “It’s our right and obligation to stop her and indict her if she’s violating the law.”

Watch an interview with Cohen Vaxberg about her work:


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