Ministers Reject Bill Barring State Funding for Artists Who Dodged IDF

The bill was rejected in a landslide vote after Culture Minister Limor Livnat expressed strong opposition to the proposal; according to bill, Livnat would have been tasked with approving any exceptions to the ban.

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Israel's Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided Sunday that the coalition would not support the Yisrael Beiteinu sponsored bill calling to prohibit state-funded bodies from commissioning performances by artists who did not do either military or civilian national service.

The bill was rejected in a landslide vote after Culture Minister Limor Livnat expressed strong opposition to the proposal.

Kwame, a musician and radio host who completed his mandatory army service.Credit: David Bachar

Under the bill, any exceptions to the ban would have to be approved by the Culture Minister (Livnat), who could do so only if convinced that an organization had valid reasons for inviting the draft-dodging artist.

The bill, sponsored by MKs Israel Hasson (Kadima) and Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu), was submitted to the Knesset two years ago, but just came up for a vote Sunday.

Yankele Mandel, chairman of the Israeli Union of Performing Artists, lashed out at the proposal. The MKs assault on allegedly draft-dodging artists is absurd, he said. In the Knesset itself you have 30 MKs who didnt serve in the Israel Defense Forces but receive public funds. How can they even propose such a thing?

While the bill was criticized by figures such as Roni Arditi, the personal manager of musician Ivri Lider a frequent target of attacks because he did not complete his full three years of service it was also vehemently opposed by some artists who would not be hurt by it.

This bill is ultimately just another bit of intimidation of the kind that has become popular among our dear rulers, said Kwame, a musician and radio host who completed his mandatory army service. Its meant to try to cause everyone to think the same way, to act the same way and to fear the people in power.

Its an attempt to divert public attention from the real problems that the government isnt dealing with to seek an enemy, an easy target that can be attacked, and to which the entire public debate can be diverted, Kwame added. And look: Its working.

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