13 בפברואר 2019

Summary of Our Activity Against the “Loyalty in Culture” Law

Summary of Our Activity Against the “Loyalty in Culture Law”

The artist unions have been taking considerable actions over the last several months to prevent the proposition of the amendment on “loyalty in cultural endeavors” from passing in second and third readings in the Knesset. Avigdor Liberman had announced his resignation from the government, and at the end of December, the Knesset announced its dissolution. The proposition is now buried beneath the bureaucratic turmoil of these events.

Over the last few months, the artists’ unions, the Cultural Institutions’ Forum, and other organizations that represent artists from the entire cultural spectrum of Israel have all united into one active forum that fought against the proposition of the amendment on the Law of Culture and Art, otherwise known as the “Loyalty in Culture Law”.

What does the amendment mean, and what happened over the last several months?
The Minister of Culture had requested the Ministry of Culture to be granted the exclusive authority to revoke government financial support from culture and art organizations that are endorsing activities that may constitute offense\incitement against the State of Israel (according to the sections of the Nakba Law) – an authority that has been reserved so far to the Minister of Finance exclusively (subject to consultation with the Minister of Culture). Allegedly, the proposition is meant to be a mere transfer of authority from one government ministry (the Ministry of Finance) to another (the Ministry of Culture), however, it appears that the amendment is actually intended to make the Minister of Culture the sole authority on the matter, unrestricted by the need for the Minister of Finance’s approval.

More importantly, as the democratic foundations of our country are attacked daily, this proposition constitutes a sort of declaration of victory and subjugation of the creative spirit to the Minister of Culture’s authority – a concept that all artists strongly oppose.

The Directors’ Guild, along with the artists’ unions, other artistic organizations, and the Cultural Institutions’ Forum, have raised our voices high in protests, SMS campaigns against government ministers, and direct communications with Knesset members from various parties. We have been attending at all the meetings that dealt with this proposition, we have made our statements both at the conference table and in the Knesset’s hallways – all in an effort to convince members of the Education Committee, the Ministry of Finance, as well as other coalition members of the righteousness of our cause. We’ve explained our position and manage to persuade some as well.

Our information campaign and pressuring has yielded some results:

  1. Should the proposition pass after all (it will be clear whether it passes for voting in the Knesset or not in the next few days), we managed to mitigate its impact. Knesset members who’ve supported us and objected the amendment, Committee Chairman Ya’akov Margi, Merav Ben-Ari, and Rachel Azaria, have called for an assembly of an inter-ministerial counseling committee (which would include representatives from the Ministries of Culture, Finance, and Law) to be assembled to review each complaint individually before a decision would be made by the Minister of Culture.
  2. The media pressure we have managed to create, both from within and from without, in such forms as promotional videos and articles, has increased public pressure on Knesset members to withdraw their support of the proposition. This has also led, among other things, to publications of international petitions condemning the proposition and threatening to cancel co-productions involving Israel.
  3. Moshe Kahlon, the Minister of Finance, has instructed his party members to vote on proposition individually.

All of the above, along with the resignation of Avigdor Liberman, have led to a lack in a large enough majority for the proposition to pass in second and third readings in the Knesset. Soon after Avigdor Liberman’s resignation announcement, the Knesset had announced its dissolution.

What’s next?
We’ll continue to fight for the ability of artists to express themselves as freely and as critically as they desire, for our society, and for our country. We are winning the fight for freedom of speech.
Don’t be afraid, ignore idle threats, keep on creating and depicting Israeli society the way you see it, with love and a critical eye.