Photo: George Ginsberg
A protestor with his mouth taped shut
Photo: George Ginsberg

Silent protesters greet Regev at theater award ceremony

Culture and sport minister attempts to clarify position amid controversy: It's not about freedom of expression, it's about funding.

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev was met with a mass of silent protesters Friday morning, when she arrived at the Einav Culture Center in Tel Aviv for an Israeli theater award ceremony where, amid controversy regarding her decisions to cease government support for some cultural institutions, she said, "The question is not freedom of expression, but the matter of funding."



While Regev assured the crowd that freedom of expression is permanently embedded in Israel's Democracy, she also said, "The state has to ask itself a moment before it gives tens of millions of shekels to private organizations and associations. Is a country that reifies life committed to fund artists? No."


Protesters greet Regev at the award ceremony (Photo: Ido Erez) (Photo: Ido Erez)
Protesters greet Regev at the award ceremony (Photo: Ido Erez)


The crowd of artists at the award event didn't follow the silent example of the protesters outside however, and answered Regev with a resounding, "Yes."


Dozens were present with their mouths taped shut when Regev arrived at the event, in protest of recent decisions and comments that many of Israel's artists feel smothers their right to the freedom of expression. Regev recently cut state funding to a theater in Haifa over a play that told the story of a Palestinian who killed an Israeli in a terror attack.


Miri Regev on stage at the award ceremony (Photo: Ido Erez) (Photo: Ido Erez)
Miri Regev on stage at the award ceremony (Photo: Ido Erez)


In another incident, Regev threatened to end funding for the Jerusalem film festival if they continued with plans to screen a film centered on Yitzhak Rabin's murderer.


Actor Itay Tiran said Friday, "The Prime Minister is showing us what he things about culture. If they shut our mouths, we'll do it with pens; if they tie our legs together, we'll do a pirouette. They won't silence us."


Ohad Knoller on stage with Regev (Photo: Motti Kimchi) (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Ohad Knoller on stage with Regev (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

Ohad Knoller, Chairman of the actor's union, addressed Regev on stage saying, "I don't think there should be any intervention in content and I request that you don't intervene in content. This is getting out of proportion. There's no reason that the state should tell producers what to do and what's right to write."


While less than friendly, Regev's rhetoric on Friday was less than that in a recent interview with AT Magazine in which she called Israel's artists, "Tight-ass, hypocritical and ungrateful," and said, "I don't feel like working for them." She added that she would rather be welfare minister as the people would show her more gratitude for her work.


Representatives of the theater and film community have done their own mudslinging however, including an incident in which actor Gavri Banai called her an 'animal'. This incident, said Regev on Friday, showed anything but culture.


פרסום ראשון: 06.19.15, 22:06
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