Israeli far-right culture minister ‘wears the occupation’ at Cannes
Israel's far-right culture minister Miri Regev mixed fashion with politics on Wednesday when she chose to wear a dress emblazoned with the Jerusalem skyline to the opening night of the Cannes film festival.
Regev was photographed on the red carpet in a long white dress which was decorated with gaudy prints of Jerusalem’s historic Old City, including the Dome of Rock and the Western Wall.
The dress was commissioned by Regev from designer Aviad Arik Herman, and intended to make an explicit political statement about Jerusalem's status.
"This year we are celebrating 50 years since the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem," Regev said in a statement, in reference to the Israeli capture and subsequent annexation of the city in the 1967 war.
"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 honours the beautiful status of our eternal capital Jerusalem."
On May 23, Israel will mark the national holiday of Jerusalem Day, a brash display of ultra-nationalism which sees Israeli right-wingers parade through the Palestinian-majority Old City.
While Israel claims sovereignty over the entire city, the international community recognises East Jerusalem, including the Old City, as occupied Palestinian territory.
Pictures of Regev in the dress immediately drew a torrent of online responses, ranging from acutely political, to humorous.
One Palestinian citizen of Israel posted a refashioned photo of the dress online with an image of Israel's separation wall, the 650 kilometre-long concrete maze which segregates Jerusalem from the West Bank.
Others posted pictures of the dress with images of white phosphorus striking the Gaza Strip, a reminder of the three deadly military operations Israel has launched on the territory since 2008.
Peace Now, Israel's anti-settlement watchdog, went promotional with the photo, posting an advertisement calling on Israelis to attend a rally in support of the two state solution.
Others simply pointed out the sheer volume of responses, noting that the dress had firmly entered 'meme' territory.
Despite the humour of many comments, Miri Regev is no joking matter. The controversial culture minister once called African refugees in Israel a "cancer in our body" and has cracked down on funding for Palestinian cultural initiatives in Israel.
The issue of Jerusalem, meanwhile, is currently at the centre of a diplomatic crisis in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
US president Donald Trump has repeatedly stated his intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, although it has not yet materialised.
Such a move would effectively recognise Israel's annexation of the city, further aggravating one of the most sensitive, and complex, issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.