Minister Limor Livnat is warning artists who refuse to perform beyond the Green Line that their conduct may prompt politicians to do the same and interfere in the work of artists.
Livnat's comments were made as the Knesset's Education, Culture, and Sports Committee discussed on Thursday the refusal of numerous Israeli artists to perform in the West Bank city of Ariel.
"The fact that you (artists) are bringing up political considerations, may lead us (politicians) to do the same and intervene in the content," said the education and culture minister.
"You are shooting yourselves in the foot," the Likud member added. "Boycotts of any kind are prohibited. You are not boycotting Ariel; you are boycotting its residents. You perform before an audience, not a city.
"I cannot recall a harsher public outcry than the one surrounding the letter," said the minister, referring to the letter in which a long line of actors and artists from all fields of the theater industry vowed not perform in Ariel.
"Thousands of talkbacks leveling harsh criticism at the petition's signatories have been posted," she said, "The people have spoken."
Livnat added, "Where are we living? In a democracy or a totalitarian state?"
Committee chairman Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) said during the meeting, "Actors are not technicians, they are public figures."
The controversial letter, which was addressed to the boards of the Cameri, Habima, Beit Lessin, Khan and the Haifa and Beersheba theatres, read, "We wish to express our disgust with the theater's board's plans to perform in the new auditorium in Ariel. The actors among us hereby declare that we will refuse to perform in Ariel, as well as in any other settlement. We urge the boards to hold their activity within the sovereign borders of the State of Israel within the Green Line."
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