Livnat at Knesset 370.
(photo credit: 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
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
“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.”
Knesset Speaker MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), who was presiding over
the meeting, told Livnat that she was being inappropriate.
bring up Syria every time an Arab MK makes a comment. Talk about what he said,”
“Don’t yell at me,” Livnat responded. “Don’t take advantage
of your status as speaker. You will not censor me.”
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
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.