moshe matalon 58.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Ministerial Legislative Committee is set to decide Sunday on whether to
adopt a new bill that will prohibit public funding of artists who evaded
military or national service.
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The private member’s bill, sponsored by MK
Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu), proposes that the culture and sports minister
have the authority to pull public funding from performances of artists who
evaded their military service, unless convinced of the performance’s merit by
the sponsoring body.
The definition of performance in the bill refers to
any culture or sporting event viewable by the public, whether directly or on
television, whether paid for or free.
Culture and Sports Minister Limor
Livnat opposes the bill and warned that if passed, it would jeopardize the
activities of hundreds of institutions and cause the firing of thousands of
workers who did serve in the army, and at the same time place an “absurd” demand
on the minister to investigate and keep tabs on thousands of artists and
athletes and the circumstances of their discharges.
“The goal of the bill
is to prevent an absurd situation, whereby a publicly funded body directs its
budgets to celebrities who are unwilling to share the burden,” read the bill’s
According to the bill’s proponents, draft-dodging
celebrities play a decisive role in expanding the general phenomenon of eluding
“Every artist, singers and actor must understand that there is
no prize for dodging service and that in order for the state to support them,
they must support the state,” Matalon said. “In the near future, I will expand
the bill to include athletes, to take care of a problem that exists in other
The bill has come under widespread criticism by celebrities,
civil rights organizations and members of Knesset.
The Culture and Sports
Ministry’s legal department has said it is impossible to stop the funding of a
public body because of a single performance, in which one artist may have evaded
“The Culture and Sports Ministry provides general
monetary support for cultural or sports bodies. It does not fund particular
performances,” the ministry stated in a press release.
singers, including, Ivri Lider, Aviv Geffen and Hemi Rodner, have spoken out
against the law. Israeli Union of Performing artist’s CEO, Yankele Mandel,
called the proposal “populist and infuriating.”
“Not only doesn’t the
bill provide a definition of what a draft-dodger is, its wording is extensive
and is directed against anyone who didn’t serve in the army or volunteer to
national service,” wrote Civil Rights Association lawyer Dan Yakir in a letter
to the ministers.
“A draft-dodger is someone who was required by law, and
found qualified, to serve in the military and through fraud and deceit received
an exemption. This foul phenomenon must be battled through legal procedures and
educational efforts. At the same time, it is important to note that the trend of
nonservice has increased substantially in recent years because of a sharp rise
in the number of exempted yeshiva students and because the IDF does not require
full enlistment cycles and has made it easier to receive discharges,” read the
“Several years ago the Labor Court ruled that limiting employment
to people who served in the army alone is a breach of the equal access to
employment law. Such policies discriminate against not only Arabs, but people
with physical or mental disabilities. A bill such as this may cause employers to
avoid hiring artists or athletes for fear of loosing public funding,” wrote
The Civil Rights Association also expressed concern that attempts
to distinguish between draft-dodgers and people who were legitimately exempt
from military service would involve excessive intrusion in to the subject’s
private medical information.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said the bill
would introduce irrelevant interests into the decision of whether to serve in
the army, instead of military service being considered a great opportunity and a
chance to unite with Israeli society in its own right.