(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
general of the Al-Midan Theater, told Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav he was resigning his position on Saturday evening.
Tarabash’s family has stated that he resigned due to a traffic accident he had been involved in last week.
The theater’s legal adviser, Ghassan Abu Warda, has taken over as acting director-general and, according to the Culture and Sport Ministry, general management of the theater has recently been handed over to Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. Adalah has denied that it is managing the theater, stating that it acts only as legal counsel to the theater.
The Al-Midan Theater has been under investigation by both the Haifa Municipality and the Culture and Sport Ministry, both of which froze funding pending the results of their respective investigations into the conduct and financial resources of the theater.
The controversy started when the family of Moshe Tamam, an IDF soldier who was murdered in 1984, heard that the theater had put on a play, A Parallel Time,” inspired by Walid Daka, the Palestinian serving a sentence for his part in the abduction, torture and murder of Tamam.
When brought to the attention of Education Minister Naftali Bennett last month that the play was part of the culture basket, a roster of state-subsidized plays available for school groups, he withdrew the play from the basket.
The Haifa Municipality finished its investigation last week and announced on Thursday its decision to reinstate funding of some NIS 1.2 million a year. After two members of the committee, from Likud and Bayit Yehudi, withdrew their signatures from the document advising the reinstatement of the funds, the decision was postponed while the municipality’s legal adviser reviews the situation.
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev responded to the resignation of Tarabash, saying that it “obligates us to conduct a deep and thorough investigation into everything going on behind the scenes at the [Al-Midan] theater.
“There are two interesting facts that have been revealed to us over the past month. One: the Al-Midan Theater has been handed over to the management of the Adalah organization, the same organization that was responsible for handing over material to the committee that investigated the events of Operation Protective Edge, the same organization that called on the UN to declare the IDF and the State of Israel war criminals.”
“The second fact: The Theater is no longer hiding its intent to turn to Qatar [for funding], a state that stands behind Hamas and funds the terrorist tunnels and the rockets that are shot into Israel.”
Regev concluded with a reference to the Spanish soccer team FC Barcelona, a team that had received hundreds of millions of dollars from Qatar Sports Investments but decided in December of last year not to renew its sponsorship because of the alleged involvement of Qatar’s funding of Islamic extremist terrorist groups.
“If the Barcelona team knew to make a decision and end its relationship with Qatar, that gave [the team] its primary sponsorship, the State of Israel can also stop for a minute and think about whether it is acceptable that the same bank account should receive funds from both Qatar and the government of Israel.
“I have instructed the professional staff of [the Culture and Sport] Ministry to continue to investigate the continued freezing of funds [to the Al-Midan Theater] and to comprehensively and thoroughly investigate the proof that has piled up on my desk over the past month,” Regev concluded.
More criticism was heard Sunday against the organization from Naftali Balanson, managing editor at the NGO Monitor.
“Adalah, which is funded by the EU, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain, is active in political warfare against Israel, including lobbying in the EU and UN based on false accusations of racism and that the Israeli justice system lacks due process,” Balanson told The Jerusalem Post.
“At the latest session of the UN Human Rights Council, Adalah partnered with several pro-BDS groups, as well as NGOs that have promoted anti-Semitism, in order to advance a campaign to have Israelis indicted by the International Criminal Court,” said Balanson.
MK Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, has been vocal about the Al-Midan Theater controversy and addressed the issue on his Facebook page on Saturday evening: “The director general of the Al-Midan Theater resigned and handed over administrative authority of the theater to the Adalah organization. Now the theater is saying that it will try to get funding from Arab sources outside of Israel, maybe even Qatar.
I suggest to the theater and its actors to move and perform and live in Qatar permanently because they, like all the other supporters of terrorism, have no place in Israel.”
Adalah has denied that the theater has turned to Qatar for funding.