Deputy A-G to Regev: Your threatening cultural institutions harms free speech

The deputy attorney-general said that these harmful effects caused by Regev’s actions shake “the very foundations of free speech.”

May 14, 2017 19:01
1 minute read.
Culture Minister Miri Regev

Culture Minister Miri Regev. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The accumulation of threats by Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev against cultural institutions that present themes she ideologically opposes harms free speech, Deputy Attorney-General for Legislative Affairs Dena Zilber recently told the minister.

It is unclear exactly when Zilber rebuked Regev’s policy of criticizing various left-leaning cultural institutions or the municipalities that fund them, but the Association for Civil Rights in Israel made the exchange public on Sunday.

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ACRI had submitted material to Zilber of Regev’s activities and requested her office’s intervention.

Zilber overwhelmingly confirmed ACRI’s complaints, saying that Regev’s activities against cultural institutions she disagrees with “formulated a worrying trend of incidents sending the problematic message that the activities of cultural institutions and artists are constantly under the watchful eye of the state,” and that the ruling coalition could at any time cut off the faucet of their funding for expressing the “wrong” ideology.

The deputy attorney-general said that these harmful effects caused by Regev’s actions shake “the very foundations of free speech.”

ACRI lawyer Dan Yakir responded to Zilber’s exchange with Regev, stating, “We hope that the deputy attorney-general’s directive will bring an end to the attempts by the minister [Regev] to harm free speech.”

Regev did not give ground to Zilber or ACRI, saying the deputy attorney-general “should be the first to know that cultural institutions, like any other institution in a proper functioning state, are not allowed to violate the law.”

She implied that any of her actions under criticism was a response to complaints she had received against institutions for thematically attacking the IDF or symbols of the state.

In contrast, Zilber had pointed out that the law does not restrict funding or allow penalizing cultural institutions for criticism of the IDF or the state’s symbols. It only allows such punitive actions for thematic attacks that are so destructive that they try to negate the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Zilber also said that only the finance minister can exercise such punitive authority, not Regev.

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