Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev proposed a bill on 27 January 2016 that would tie arts funding only to projects and performances that are ‘loyal’ to Israel, reported Ynet News.
The controversial ‘loyalty bill’ would aim to deny state funding to artists and institutions that, for example, incite racism, violence or terrorism, support armed struggle against Israel, desecrate state symbols, including flags, or deny Israel’s existence as a state.
Regev stated that “cultural institutions are not above the law” and that she would “not be an ATM” when it comes to funding various projects.
Israel’s Cultural Institutions Forum immediately came out against the bill, stating that it “will allow politicians to strip the right of the freedom of expression from artists”, making “Israel a state where the government controls how citizens live and what opinions they hold”.
Should the law pass, it would be the first time that arts and culture initiatives would be linked so closely to receiving funding. As it stands today, the funding and supervision of such initiatives is mostly overseen by the finance ministry; however, the new bill would seek to transfer such powers to the sole responsibility of the culture ministry.
Before becoming law, the draft bill will have to be voted on in three parliamentary readings.
This is not the first time that Regev has been in hot water since she became culture minister in 2015. In June 2015 she moved to freeze funding for the Al-Midan theatre in Haifa for putting on a play entitled ‘A Parallel Time’, inspired by the true story of a Palestinian who murdered an Israeli soldier.
Photo from Miri Regev’s Twitter
» Ynet News – 27 January 2016:
Regev presents ‘cultural loyalty’ bill to MKs
» i24 News – 27 January 2016:
Israeli culture ministry presents controversial ‘loyalty’ draft law
» The Times of Israel – 26 January 2016:
Culture minister pushes bill to condition funding on ‘loyalty’
» Haaretz – 26 January 2016:
Israeli Culture Minister to Propose ‘Loyalty Bill’ in Bid to Control Artistic Funding
» Ynet News – 26 January 2016:
Regev to submit culture bill – no loyalty, no funding
» i24 News – 26 January 2016:
Culture Minister’s new bill sparks outrage among artists and lawmakers
» Artsfreedom.org – 3 November 2015:
Israel/Palestine: The political legacy of muzzling artists
» Artsfreedom.org – 22 June 2015:
Israel: Artists up in arms over remarks by Culture Minister