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WATCH: Livnat tells Arab MKs, 'you think we're not enlightened? Go to Assad'
By LAHAV HARKOV
24/12/2013
"The only place where there is freedom of speech for people like you is the Knesset," Culture Minister tells Hadash MK Barakei.
 
Culture Minister Livnat speaks at Knesset plenum, Dec. 23, 2013 Photo: YouTube screenshot

Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat caused an uproar among Arab MKs late Monday night, saying they have more freedom in Israel than anywhere else.

During a plenum discussion ahead of the first vote on an amendment to the Film Law, which sets the Culture and Sport Ministry’s budget for movies at NIS 79.5 million, a debate arose on the kinds of films the government should fund.

“The job of cinema is to be provocative. There should not be a connection between art and politics,” MK Muhammad Barakei (Hadash) said, adding that “the Right and culture have no connection.”



Livnat retorted: “Don’t teach me about enlightenment and humanism. I’ll send you to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad; talk to him about culture and enlightenment and humanism. It’s so pathetic.”

“You say the test of an enlightened country is whether or not it funds provocative art? Well, we do that, even if I don’t always think it’s so smart,” Livnat added. “Your brothers’ countries, Muslim countries, are dictatorships where they don’t even let women drive and don’t even have one millimeter of enlightenment.”

The culture minister stated: “The only place where there is freedom of speech for people like you is the Knesset. Here you’re allowed to say whatever you want.”

Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), who was presiding over the meeting, told Livnat that she was being inappropriate.

“You can’t bring up Syria every time an Arab MK makes a comment. Talk about what he said,” Tibi added.

“Don’t yell at me,” Livnat responded. “Don’t take advantage of your status as speaker. You will not censor me.”

Tibi interrupted Livnat several times, arguing that it is not relevant for her to bring up Arab countries just because Arab MKs spoke.

The debate devolved into a shouting match, during which Tibi had MKs Yoni Chetboun (Bayit Yehudi), Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) and Pnina Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid) removed from the plenum.

The bill, which passed its first reading with 45 in favor and none opposed, also regulates how the government can use royalties earned from films it funded. Half will go to the Second Television and Radio Authority, and half will go to the state’s coffers.

After the bill passes its final reading, it will be in force for five years before having to be renewed.
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