Israel's Minister of Culture: 'Culture Scene Is Arrogant, Hypocritical, Scheming and Ungrateful'

Artists will know in one month 'exactly what's allowed and what's forbidden' to show in state-sponsored art, Minister Regev promises in interview.

Emil Salman

Culture Minister Miri Regev referred to Israel's culture scene as "arrogant, hypocritical, scheming, ungrateful" people, in an interview to the women's magazine At, excerpts of which were published on Thursday.

"I knew why I didn't want to take this role. I knew I was going to work for ungrateful people," Regev told the magazine.

This week, Regev halted funding for the Al-Midan Arab theater in Haifa, which is presenting a play inspired by the story of an Arab-Israeli terrorist. The minister also threatened to halt state funding for the Jerusalem Film Festival if it screened a documentary about Yigal Amir, the man who murdered Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin. Eventually,  a compromise was reached according to which the film would not be screened but would still compete in the Best Israeli Documentary competition.

In the interview, Regev elaborated on her recent statements that she would not support art that "de-legitimizes the State of Israel." "When the rules are clear, all is well Expressing my stance in advance is good for the artists, who are just now writing scripts and plays, [this way] they'll know what they can get [state] support for and what not."

"What was it that the head of the actors' union, Ohad Knoller, told me at the meeting with the artists' organizations? 'Miri, look, I've been writing a script for two years now and I want to know what's allowed and what's forbidden.' I told him: 'In one month you'll know exactly what's allowed and what's forbidden," Regev said.

Regev noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "very pleased" with her: "This government isn't a government that apologizes We'll fight the de-legitimization and the boycotts at home."

Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon responded to Regev's interview, accusing her of "vulgarity, verbal violence and a basic misunderstanding as to who is working for whom."

"What else must happen for the prime minister to understand that the freedom of culture and creation in Israel cannot be left in the hands of the culture censor, Miri Regev."