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Israel : artists mobilise against government sanctions

Translated Thursday 18 June 2015, by Philippa Griffin

The umbrella organization that represents Israeli cultural institutions has taken the decision to hold an urgent meeting on Thursday 18th June in light not only of sanctions but of particular censure by the new right-wing government of two Arab theatres in Israel.

On Tuesday 9th June, the Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, leader of religious nationalist party Foyer juif (literal translation Jewish Forum) announced his decision to withdraw public financial support previously promised to a production by an Arab theatre company. The play presented the story of a Palestinian who had taken part in the murder of Israeli soldier Moshé Tamam in 1984. Entitled “A Parallel Era” and performed by Arab theatre company Almidan, based at Haïfa, it tells the story of Walid Daka, an Israeli Arab imprisoned for the kidnap and murder of Tamam.

The same day, the Minister for Culture and Sport, Miri Regev of Likud, Benhamin Netanyahu’s centre-right party, threatened to cut off funding for an Arab-Jewish theatre in Jaffa, near Tel-Aviv if its director, an Israeli Arab, continued to refuse to perform in a play set in the occupied West Bank in the Jordanian Valley.

"Israeli culture is in danger"

“Israeli culture is in danger” was the stark warning seen on Facebook by the leader of the left-wing party Meretz, Zehava Galon, “We are at a loss to understand what has made Bennett and Regev so afraid that they feel the need to silence all artists and creative peoples who do not align themselves politically with the regime. Such deliberate silencing is a clear sign of a downward spiral towards a fascist State.”

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