Knesset launches initiative to promote Israeli culture abroad

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy: "The distribution of the Hebrew language and its study around the world is a powerful ‘soft power’ given to the State of Israel.”

 MK Prof. Yossi Shain is seen speaking at the Knesset on Israeli cultural outreach, on November 30, 2021. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI)
MK Prof. Yossi Shain is seen speaking at the Knesset on Israeli cultural outreach, on November 30, 2021.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI)

A Knesset caucus held an event Tuesday on the theme, “Enhancing Israel’s Reputation and Promoting its Culture Among the Nations,” an initiative of MK Prof. Yossi Shain.

The event took place in the presence of Shain and Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper and Diaspora Minister Dr. Nachman Shai, as well as other MKs and hundreds of guests.

Gal Gadot sent Shain a video to encourage the initiative, which he posted on his Facebook page after it was shown at the beginning of the presentation, in which she said that Israeli culture could be as much of an ambassador for the country abroad as the hi-tech industry. Israeli culture, she said, "can show the world who we are, the complexity of the daily experience of Israeli life, the conflicts, the challenges and also -- and perhaps most important -- our joy in life. We have a lot to tell the world, and we have a lot to take pride in before the world . . . I wish you great luck with this." 

Among the artists who took part were Eshkol Nevo, Zeruya Shalev, Yair Assulin, Noam Semel, Lena Krendlin, Moshe Edery, Avi Nesher, Meir Fenigstein, Patty Hochmann, Michal Rovner, Rivka Scher, Dina Eldor, Lea Lavie-Fishbein, Roni Brown, Ester Rada and Tmira Yardeni.

Shain, the founder and chairman of the caucus, said: “Israel is developing as a global player in culture, and we must help spread Israeli culture throughout the world as the ‘soft arm’ of the state, like the British Council’s brand, for the dissemination of Israeli culture among the nations. This authority will promote Israeli artists and creators around the world with assistance in exhibitions, publications, performances, dance, music, theater, book publishing and more, and will provide support for Israeli creations around the world.”

The activities of the caucus will be conducted in close cooperation between government ministries, including the Culture, Foreign and Diaspora ministries.

FROM LEFT: Israeli director Avi Nesher, Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper, MK Prof. Yossi Shain and Cinema City CEO Moshe Edry. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI)FROM LEFT: Israeli director Avi Nesher, Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper, MK Prof. Yossi Shain and Cinema City CEO Moshe Edry. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI)

Levy said, “the distribution of the Hebrew language and its study around the world is a powerful ‘soft power’ given to the State of Israel.”

Liberman told Shain that ”the combination of politics and culture is a rare combination and [you deserve] great respect that you have taken on the task. Our great challenge is to promote Israeli culture.”

Tropper thanked Shain, noting: “These were two shaky years that proved to us how important Israeli culture is and how much we missed it. It grows out of cooperation between different views and different cultures. The Culture Ministry, under my leadership, promotes a variety of activities that will put Israeli culture on the international map, including a procedure to encourage foreign productions to come to Israel and also to join international film funds.”

Shai said, “in a world where the State of Israel clearly shows great power, soft power is its secret weapon, which is gaining new meaning, both at the level of foreign relations and in relations with Jewish and Israeli communities in the Diaspora.“

Speakers commented on recent international successes from Israel, notably in the entertainment industry.

Producer and Cinema City CEO Moshe Edery said, “Israeli cinema is the cheapest business card for the State of Israel. Without the State of Israel’s support for marketing and promoting Israeli cinema abroad, it will be difficult for us to bring the Israeli story into the world.”

Movie director Avi Nesher said: “Story is the most powerful weapon in the world. And we are in a century where it becomes even more powerful and whoever knows how to tell, and market it, will win. I present movies at film festivals around the world and in recent years see and feel the great criticism of the State of Israel... The ability to share our story is the secret weapon of the State of Israel. We can tell a story about a very enlightened society, dynamic and open to change.”

Producer Tamira Yardeni pointed out, “Tehran’s win of the International Emmy is just another proof of the success of Israeli art around the world and it continues the successes of other series such as Valley of Tears, which was sold to HBO, and the series, Euphoria, which I produced and sold abroad.”