Friday, August 5

The Incendiary, Miri Regev, Minister of Culture and Sport

English: Member of Knesset, Miri Regev. עברית:...
Member of Knesset, Miri Regev. עברית: חברת הכנסת מירי רגב (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev, apparently is the “apple of the eye” of PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Miri Regev is keen on making the Likud agenda an integral part of Israeli culture. She has become involved in deciding what cultural projects qualify for getting state funding as well as being very outspoken on this issue of which she makes no bones.

Her emphasis on culture is basically a double-edged sword. The one edge is that theatre and literature must be Sephardi Jewish-oriented (this includes piyutim - A piyyut or piyut (plural piyyutim or piyutim, Hebrew פּיּוּטִים / פיוטים, פּיּוּטִ / פיוט pronounced [piˈjut, pijuˈtim]; from Greek ποιητής poiétḗs "poet") is a Jewish liturgical poem, usually designated to be sung, chanted, or recited during religious services. Piyyutim have been written since Temple times.) as well as the songs and performances of Israeli Sephardi pop stars such as Eyal Golan that she personally sponsors, which, according to the Knesset Ethics Committee, is illegal.

The following is an article from Haaretz illustrating Miri Regev’s sponsorship of Eyal Golan:

Miri Regev says clip for superstar Eyal Golan's show 'was designed to encourage Mizrahi music.'

Dafna Arad and Chaim Levinson Aug 02, 2016 9:59 PM

MK Miri Regev, December 2, 2014.Emil Salman
Eyal Golan's new album will send you running to the beach
Mizrahi culture gains a voice, experiences revival in Israel

The Knesset Ethics Committee decided Tuesday that the video clip showing Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev praising the television program “Eyal Golan Is Calling You,” which is aired on Channel 24, has crossed the line and become a prohibited public relations promotion, according to Knesset ethics regulations.

The committee, headed by MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas), decided not to adopt sanctions against Regev, without explanation. The decision was made after MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) asked the committee to “clarify the boundaries regarding the participation of Knesset members in commercial activity, promotion and public relations in general, and for television programs in particular.”

In the clip that Regev posted on her Facebook page last month, she is standing in a back yard and saying, “Eyal Golan is calling you. What a joy, the program is coming back. An amazing program with Israeli, Mizrahi music, joyful, moving, including the good old songs and of course finding new talents and new songs. So go for it and good luck. Eyal, good for you, great production.” At the end Regev forms a heart with her fingers.

The Ethics Committee reminded everyone that MKs are not permitted to provide sponsorship, to help or promote commercial entities, including media outlets. “After watching the clip, the Ethics Committee believes that in this case the line was crossed between a viewpoint and a declaration of policy, and even sharing a personal experience, which are permitted and legitimate, and ‘prohibited PR.’ The nature and content of the clip serve a specific program and a specific singer, and are seen as a kind of ‘promo’ for the program. An advertising campaign and PR by commercial entities is liable to lead to a violation of ethics and the imposition of sanctions.”

Regev told the committee that “the clip was designed to encourage Mizrahi music and was part of the encouragement and support I give to activities that provide a platform for Mizrahi music, as I’ve done in the past. That’s the only reason for my activities, without a blemish and without any commercial or promotional intention.”

Zandberg’s reaction: “There is a clear boundary line between participation in a television program to promote a viewpoint, and marketing a show only for commercial promotion. In a precedent-setting decision the Ethics Committee instructs the MKs to refrain from such advertising and PR, and that’s as it should be.”

Regev’s reply: “I regret the decision of the Ethics Committee, which didn’t accept my viewpoint in the letter of reply that reflects my policy. However, I respect its decision.”
Dafna Arad
Haaretz Contributor

Miri Regev is becoming autocratic in her quest to encourage partisan “Sephardi” culture and to personally encourage it. Israel is a multicultural society of which Sephardi culture and heritage is a part and by no means superior contrary to what Regev thinks. She should represent the culture of all Israelis and certainly not be sectarian or political. She is muscle flexing to force her idea of culture on all Israel’s society, irrespective of their cultural background. Western culture that is very much part of Western civilization is inferior according to her world view and is not deserving of government subsidies to the same extent. Any artist who opposes her world view on culture is considered a traitor to Israel.

The government is considering closing down the Israeli Broadcasting Authority as according to them it is not profitable and wishes to replace it with a new public broadcaster that will not be independent. The policy of this public broadcaster will be Likud-oriented. Miri Regev has given her support for that and believes that if subsidized by the government then the latter should control what is broadcast. Even Regev’s Likud colleague, Gila Gamliel, opposes this and has accused Regev of moving towards fascism.

Miri Regev is not suited for her cabinet post. She is incendiary, divisive and autocratic. Her narrow world view of culture and understanding disqualifies her from that post. She is creating a schism between the various cultural groups that make up Israel’s society. She is racist and suffers from a massive inferiority complex. Her desire to push for a macabre mix of kissing tombstones of ignorant Sephardi rabbis (tzadikim) as well as kissing amulets given by self-styled, money grabbing, lecherous, Kabbalists and rabbis. Ear-splitting low class Mizrachi music performed by singers (many of whom are on drugs) are also part of her definition of culture. In Regev’s view this partisan folklore should be given top priority in becoming Israel’s mainstream culture.

Miri Regev speaks for her community and is not concerned with Israel’s multicultural community. She has taken it upon herself as to which cultural projects are deserving of state funding and which are not. It is obvious that cultural projects that are “left wing oriented” or away from the right wing coalition political line will automatically be disqualified from state funding. Her criteria for state funding are as follows:

  • Denying the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state;
  • Inciting racial hatred, violence and terrorism;
  • Supporting act of terrorism against Israel;
  • Marking Independence Day as a day of mourning;
  • Acting against an Israeli symbol;
  • Boycotting or calling for a boycott of Israel.

"I make a clear distinction between freedom of expression and freedom of funding," the Culture Minister declared. "Freedom of expression is a supreme value in Israel. But, the state has the right not to finance factors that undermine its Jewish and democratic character." Poetry of the late talented Mohamed Darwish is considered treasonous and not to be even discussed despite the fact that he was born and bred in Israel and is part of its culture. There is no violence against any group in  his poems. Yet it is not the poetry for “La Passionaria” Miri Regev’s approval.

Interpretation of Miri Regev’s “cultural criteria” is very subjective and does not allow much cultural leeway. She has dovetailed these criteria to suit her world view as to what is patriotic and what is treacherous or anti-Israel.

Some of the criteria are reasonable. Inciting racial hatred, violence and terrorism is definitely positive and should not be allowed. As for the rest, it must be viewed in the context of the message that the writer or producer wishes to convey and should not be included in criteria for state subsidies or funding.

Regev, in her statement on her criteria even contradicts herself. She can lump any of her criteria on any cultural project that does not conform to her world view or that of the Likud Government. She can even interpret a political satirical play or book according to the criteria that she has formulated even if this may not be the case.

This is an example of the Late Poet Mohammed Darwish's Poetry! What is provacative about it?

It is an attempt to delegitimize those, who are do not hold Regev’s world view. This must be viewed as a threat to Israel’s cultural heritage that is based on many different cultures and outlooks.  

Thursday, August 4

Gideon Levy of Haaretz has gone off the Rails

I had been an avid reader of Gideon Levy’s articles over the years. He had exposed much of the abuses of human rights by members of the IDF serving in the areas occupied by Israel during the June War of 1967. Individual soldiers had taken the law into their own hands and there have been incidents of torture of Palestinians over the years in these occupied territories. Gideon had brought this to the attention of the readers of Haaretz. He had been acting as a sort of “watchdog” and reporting incidents of abuse. It is well documented that settler right wing extremists have also destroyed Palestinian property and agricultural fields. Of course all incidents of human rights abuses in the territories deserve condemnation and those responsible be brought to justice and severely punished if found guilty.
Levy deserved credit for his reports. However lately he has denigrated Israel by calling it an “evil state” He is insensitive to abuse of Palestinians by their own corrupt, wealthy leadership as well as the hate and racist propaganda that they use in the education system against Jews and Israel as a whole. He never condemns the Palestinian leadership for the torture of Palestinians, who oppose them. Levy also does not condemn the Palestinian leadership for its lack of transparency and its human rights abuses not to mention that there is no democracy in Palestinian Street. He refuses to accept that Israel has an existential problem since its establishment with its Arab neighbours, including the Palestinians. He is insensitive to the terrorist acts that individual Palestinian terrorists commit against Israel – the suicide bombings, stabbings of innocent people and savagery that the Palestinian terrorists have been carrying out of the years. He seeks a moral justification for these acts of terror against Israel using the occupation as an excuse.
Beyond Israel’s borders there is ISIS, who is showing signs of cooperating with Hamas and various terrorist Islamist groups. Levy refuses to accept the fact that much of the suffering that the Palestinians endure was brought about by the Palestinians themselves because of their wealthy, corrupt leaders in Hamas and also in the Palestinian Authority. The brainwashing, the glorification of bloodshed and murder of Israelis on a daily basis does not seem to take priority for condemnation in Levy’s articles. He is oblivious to that as it does not fit his narrow world view on Palestinian suffering. His self-righteous articles condemning Israel are inappropriate, when viewing the entire tragic Palestinian – Israeli Conflict in its true and objective context.
The following article of Gideon Levy is one of the most disgusting, biased and inappropriate articles of his that I have ever read:
Stop Living in Denial, Israel Is an Evil State

Israel may not be Nazi, nor even a fascist state. Yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. Just consider these acts of evil perpetrated by the state...

Gideon Levy Jul 31, 2016 4:49 PM
After we’ve cited nationalism and racism, hatred and contempt for Arab life, the security cult and resistance to the occupation, victimhood and messianism, one more element must be added without which the behavior of the Israeli occupation regime cannot be explained: Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake. Sometimes, it’s the only explanation.
Eva Illouz described its signs (“Evil now,” Haaretz Hebrew edition, July 30). Her essay, which challenges the idea of the banality of evil, considers the national group as the source of the evil. Using philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concept, she finds a “family resemblance” between the Israeli occupation and history’s evil regimes. This similarity does not mean that Israel is Nazi, nor even fascist. And yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. It’s a depressing and brilliant analysis.
The evil that Illouz attributes to Israel is not banal, it cannot happen anywhere, and it has political and social roots that are deeply embedded in Israeli society. Thus, Illouz joins Zeev Sternhell, who warned in his impressive and resounding essay about the cultural soil out of which fascism is now growing in Israel (“The birth of fascism,” Haaretz Hebrew edition, July 7).
But alongside these analyses, we must also present a brief history of evil. We must present the instances that combine to create a great and horrific picture, a picture of Israeli evil in the territories, so as to stand up to those who deny the evil. It is not the case of the individual – Sgt. Elor Azaria, for example, who is being tried for the death of a subdued Palestinian assailant in Hebron – but the conduct of the establishment and the occupation regime that proves the evil. In fact, the continuation of the occupation proves the evil. Illouz, Sternhell and others provide debatable analyses on its origins, but whatever they are, it can no longer be denied.
One case is like a thousand witnesses: the case of Bilal Kayed. A young man who completed a prison term of 14.5 years – his entire sentence – without a single furlough, without being allowed to at least say goodbye by phone to his dying father; a clear sign of evil.
About six weeks ago, Kayed was getting ready for his release. A representative of the Shin Bet security service – one of the greatest agencies of evil in Israel – even showed him a photograph of the home his family had built for him to stir him up even more ahead of his release. And then, as his family waited impatiently for him at the crossing point and Kayed grew ever more excited in his cell, he was informed that he was being thrown into administrative detention for at least another six months, without trial and without explanation.
Since then, he has been on hunger strike. He is cuffed to his bed. His family is not allowed to see him. Prison guards never leave his room and the lights are not turned out for a moment. Evil.
Only evil can explain the state’s conduct toward Kayed – only an evil state acts this way. The arbitrary announcement, at the last moment, of a senseless detention is abuse, and the way he has been treated since then is also abuse.
Only evil can explain the detention last week of another young man, Hiran Jaradat, whose brother Arif (who had Down syndrome) was killed in June and whose father died two days ago. He is under arrest for “incitement on Facebook” and was not released to attend his father’s funeral. Evil.
The continuation of the detention of poet Darin Tatur – evil. The destruction of the tiny swimming pool that the residents of Khirbet Tana in the northern West Bank had built for themselves – evil. The confiscation of water tanks from a community of shepherds in the Jordan Valley in the July heat – evil.
A great many of the decisions of the occupation regime that decides the fates of individuals, families, communities, villages and cities cannot be explained without evil. The list is as long as the occupation. The extortion of sick people from Gaza to enlist them as collaborators, the blockades on cities and towns for weeks, the Gaza blockade, the demolition of homes – all evil.
Banal or not, its existence must be acknowledged and it must be recognized as one of the most influential values in Israel. Yes, there is an evil regime at work in Israel, and therefore it is an evil state.
Gideon Levy
Haaretz Correspondent

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Israel may not be Nazi, nor even a fascist state. Yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. Just consider these acts of evil perpetrated by the state...