By threatening the livelihood of Palestinian theater workers, Regev is committing cultural terrorism: she is putting people’s livelihoods at risk — people whose only sin is holding different political principles.
In an interview Monday morning, Culture Minister Miri Regev revealed her true intentions to Army Radio host Razi Barkai: she wishes to shut down Haifa’s Al-Midan, the only Arabic theater in Israel that receives state funding, if it does not fall in line.
Here’s how we got here. The Ministry of Culture and Sport froze Al-Midan’s budget in mid-2015 after it had planned to run a performance of “A Parallel Time,” based on the life of Walid Daka, a Palestinian prisoner convicted of aiding the abduction and killing of Israeli soldier, Moshe Tamam. The ministry justified the freeze by arguing that the play was written by a “terrorist” who kidnapped and murdered a soldier.
The theater petitioned to Israel’s High Court of Justice, after which the attorney general pressured the ministry to leave the theater’s budget untouched. The two sides came to a compromise: Regev would not touch Al-Midan’s budgets for 2016 and 2017, meanwhile the theater would agree pull its petition.
The workers of Al-Midan are now going on strike, claiming that Regev has simply ceased transferring funds since March 2016, and that they are missing the NIS 2.2 million promised to them.
Regev chose World Theater Day to say that she “will not fund a theater that endorses terror,” all while she commits terrorism against cultural institutions and threatens to pass a “cultural loyalty” law in order to control artistic funding. Oh, the irony.
Let’s put things on the table: Daka, who was put on trial and convicted of his involvement in killing a soldier, is a political prisoner. He was not present during the killing, as was stated in the court’s ruling — the same court that sentenced him to life (President Shimon Peres later commuted his sentence to 35-37 years). Daka’s request for a second trial was rejected. Yes, the theater has the same role as all other forms of art: to publicly challenge and criticize the regime. And in this case, a Palestinian theater happens to be criticizing an occupying regime.
By not transferring the money to Al-Midan, Regev is simply withholding funds that legally belong to the Palestinian public in Israel — funds that the public has paid for with tax money.
The extremist policies put forth by Regev are no surprise. As Palestinians, it is clear...Read More