THE PEOPLE & THE BOOK: Challenging Chaucer

Censoring culture, or cutting budgets that encourage it, seems to be increasingly popular in the Jewish nation state.

November 22, 2018 22:30
THE PEOPLE & THE BOOK: Challenging Chaucer

Chaucer as a pilgrim in a page from the the early 15th century Ellesmere Manuscript, owned by the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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"FOOYA!" IS what Gila Almagor, doyenne of Israeli Theater, thinks of Culture Minister Miri Regev's proposed, Soviet-sounding '"Loyalty in Culture" law. The bill, which is advancing in the Knesset, means that the Culture Ministry, (in other words Regev herself), could cut the funding to cultural institutions or revoke it completely for one of the following reasons: Denying the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; incitement to racism, violence and terrorism; support for armed struggle or terrorism; marking Independence Day as a day of mourning; and vandalizing or dishonoring the Israeli flag or other state symbols. Miri Regev, Israel's esteemed Minister of Culture, enjoys admitting that her own cultural education is not 100% complete. In a Yisrael Hayom interview she stated that she'd never read Chekhov, almost never went to plays as a child, and hasn't read the works of Hayim Nachman Bialik. In a recent furor over Israeli movie "Foxtrot," Regev, who furiously denigrated the film, acknowledged that she hadn't actually watched it.

Censoring culture, or cutting budgets that encourage it, seems to be increasingly popular in the Jewish nation state. The Jews, and the Jewish nation, have proudly been the cradle of culture and art and literature – think the Bible, think Hollywood, think Nobel Prizes for Literature – and that seemed to many of us to be good. But now, in our own country where one would have thought our creativity could fly, religious sensibilities that seem to be growing stricter by each cycle of the moon, and an ever- more powerful, yet endlessly threatened Right, seem to want to clamp down on everything that doesn't endorse their, and only their, agenda.


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