Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev has instructed the ministry’s Director General Yossi Sharabi to put together an initiative that would have all cultural and sport centers built by the state to raise the Israeli flag on Independence Day.
According to Ynet sources, Regev is also seeking to implement this instruction in future buildings that will be funded by the state. The initiative is slated to be brought up at the next Knesset session.
If approved, Regev’s proposal would apply to all soccer stadiums, sports halls, theaters and culture centers built with state funding, whether directly by the Israeli Government or indirectly through state-run lotteries.
The initiative is set to stir up controversy, mostly due to its broad implementation, which would include culturally sensitive locations such as the Arabic-speaking al-Midan Theater in Haifa and the Doha Stadium in Sakhnin, whose population is predominantly Arab (In the past, officials at Doha Stadium had sought to prevent Israeli flags from being brought into the stadium, so as to “prevent provocations”).
When she first took office, Regev had promised to promote the Israeli flag’s prominence through legislation and regulations. Over the last few days, the Ministry has conducted a legal assessment of the issue, and is due to put forth a proposal that is expected to pass without legal difficulties during the Knesset’s summer session, which will begin later in May.
The initiative is far from being the first controversial stance Regev has made as Culture and Sport Minister. Upon entering office, she stated that she plans on carrying out dramatic changes regarding the funding received by culture institutions, including allocating funds to Eastern Jewish institutions http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4775187,00.html and has already put forth the “Loyalty Bill,” http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4770403,00.html, which aims to deny funding from artists and culture institutions that “activity that undermines Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state.” Among others, this includes recognizing Independence Day as a day of mourning.
The initiative has already raised criticism from Israeli artists who view it as a way to silence criticism against the government.
“Israel’s 68th Independence Day and The Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism obligate us to guard the state and its symbols,” said Regev. “It is inconceivable that raising the Israeli flag in culture and sport centers built by the state will decided by individual discretion. The institutions that Israel erects should proudly wave its flag.”