Screening committee mooted for Kiryat Arba cultural center

Committee would be presided over by Kiryat Arba resident and prominent national-religious leader Rabbi Dov Lior, to safeguard Kiryat Arba’s “spiritual character.”

September 13, 2011 08:21
3 minute read.
Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior  in J'lem

Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

A minority faction within the Kiryat Arba-Hebron municipal council is seeking to establish a “spiritual committee” to screen productions at the settlement’s new cultural center.

The committee would be presided over by Kiryat Arba resident and prominent national-religious leader Rabbi Dov Lior, to safeguard Kiryat Arba’s “spiritual character.”

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The cultural center, due to open on September 19, came under fire on Monday from actor Rami Baruch, currently playing the role of Jonathan Pollard in the Cameri Theater’s production Pollard’s Trial. Baruch announced he would be boycotting the Kiryat Arba cultural center and would not be performing in the scheduled production of the play at the center, saying to do so would be to “retroactively legitimize [Baruch] Goldstein and Rav Kahane.”

Chairman of the Kiryat Arba local council Malachi Levinger told The Jerusalem Post on Monday he had spoken with Baruch during the day and urged him to change his mind, saying to him there are people in the town who represent it better than Kahane and Goldstein. According to Levinger, Baruch may yet perform in Kiryat Arba.

Council member and proponent of the spiritual oversight measure, Bentzion Gopstein, denied the proposed committee was intended to censor alternative perspectives on religion or politics.

“The purpose of this committee would be to examine the content of any productions to ensure that they do not include nudity and anything else of a sexually offensive nature that has no place in Kiryat Arba,” he told the Post on Monday.

The proposal, which Gopstein says will be voted on within two weeks, also seeks to exclude any actors from performing at the center who evaded army service and who are not “loyal” to the state.

“There are those in Tel Aviv who want to boycott us and we don’t want to invite such people who are opposed to the State of Israel, we don’t want to give them the legitimization of an invite and a publicity platform to go to the media and say ‘I am refusing to perform in Kiryat Arba,’” he said. “We don’t have a problem with people who don’t share our opinions but there is a red line for people who are working against the army and against the interests of the state,” Gopstein said.

In response to the proposal, Levinger, said the local authority had no intention of changing the programming schedule for the coming season.

“The opposition members behind the initiative represent a minority opinion and their views do not enjoy the support of the majority of council members or residents of Kiryat Arba and Hebron,” Levinger said in a statement yesterday.

“This initiative was proposed by a minority on the council who are attempting for internal political reasons to damage the celebration of the opening of the cultural center, a facility that is very important for the residents of Kiryat Arba-Hebron and those living in the rest of Judea and Samaria.”

There are two other opposition council members along with Gopstein who are behind the proposal, three who have sided with the mayor and three independents.

“It’s true, we are in the opposition but we will see how the other three vote and if the proposal doesn’t pass then we will explore other ways to prevent such people from performing in Kiryat Arba,” Gopstein said.

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