MK Michael Melchior's proposed culture bill passed a preliminary reading at the Knesset last Wednesday, 59 to one. If passed, the law mandates 0.5% of the national budget to be allotted to culture, irrespective of future funding cutbacks. "The security of a nation cannot depend only on the sword, but must be anchored in a rooted and strong culture," said Melchior, adding that "as we approach Israel's 60th anniversary, it is time to stop the yearly and humiliating ritual that requires our cultural leaders to beg in order to prevent further budget cuts." The current cultural budget stands at NIS 445 million, or barely 0.2%. The bill will increase funding incrementally, going from 0.25% next year to 0.5% by 2016. It is based on a 1998 UNESCO resolution recommending to its member states an outlay of at least 1% of their budgets on culture. The bill's dire necessity was demonstrated in December when the government sought to cut a further NIS 53 million from the already minuscule budget. The entire cultural community banded together, declared a boycott on participation in the 60th anniversary celebrations and organized a well publicized and very vocal protest. The government backed down, and the cuts were rescinded. The bill is co-sponsored by MKs Avishai Braverman, Robert Ilatov and Amnon Cohen and has the enthusiastic backing of Culture Minister Raleb Majadele.