Editorial |

Tropper, a Suave Censor

Haaretz Editorial
השבעתו של שר התרבות והספורט חילי טרופר
The inauguration of the Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper in 2020.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / Knesset Spokesperson
Haaretz Editorial

As the government of change marks a one-year anniversary, it seems that Be’er Sheva prefers to continue operating under the misguided moral guidelines imparted during the reign of Benjamin Netanyahu, when censorship ran wild and persecuting lefties was a national sport.

Last week, the Be’er Sheva Fringe Theater decided to cave in to pressure by the extreme right and cancel the play “Basic Instinct” on the day it was supposed to premiere. The play includes testimonies by female soldiers who served in the occupied territories which were given to Breaking The Silence — a group of ex-Israeli soldiers opposing the occupation.

The chairman of the Be’tzalmo – Human Rights in a Jewish Spirit organization, Shai Glick, saw notices ahead of the play’s debut, and decided that it would be inappropriate to allow it to be staged. Glick immediately sent a letter to Be’er Sheva’s mayor, Ruvik Danilovich, calling for the play to be canceled. “There is no place for public and municipal funding for plays that spew hatred and incitement toward Israel Defense Forces soldiers and the citizens of Israel. I call upon you to cancel the event forthwith,” he wrote.

Glick has made it his undisguised mission to “denounce Breaking The Silence and remove it from the sphere of public legitimacy,” and he acts upon it. It is troubling that the Fringe Theater surrendered to the pressure and canceled the play.

The decision is a stain on the theater’s reputation. According to the director and creator of the play, Yael Tal, the theater’s artistic director, Yoav Michaeli, told her that they canceled the play because “the noise surrounding it was negative for us, and I won’t pay the price for this play.”

It is sad each time anew to hear of artists who can’t withstand the pressure, surrender, and betray artistic freedom. But the most deplorable aspect of this sorry episode is the thundering silence from Culture Minister Chili Tropper.

Like his cohorts in the government of change, Tropper also presented himself as one who meant to fix the damage left by his predecessors. But now it turns out that unlike “Vulture Minister” Miri Regev, the change government does indeed continue to censor, but politely. No cursing, no yelling. All thanks to the suave Tropper.

Tropper should be reminded that a culture minister who upholds censorship and provides a headwind to political persecution is an enemy of culture, no matter the style in which he does so.

Tropper must state that this is political persecution and publicly oppose it. He must make it clear that there is no green light for censorship and political witch hunts under the government of change, and that there is no art without artistic freedom.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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