Israeli artists petition 'anti-democratic' moves by Culture Minister Regev

Regev says those petitioning, unfamiliar with her or her policies, calls their claims "uncultural," and "baseless."

Likud MK Miri Regev (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Likud MK Miri Regev
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
More than 1,500 artists signed a petition against Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and her ministry following a political storm in which Arab Israeli actor Norman Issa refused to participate in a performance in the Jordan Valley.
After Issa declined to participate in a performance of the Haifa Theater’s Boomerang production in the Jordan Valley over the Green Line last week, Regev called on him to reconsider his decision and accused the actor of not believing in coexistence.
She followed that with a thinly veiled threat to cut off the ministry’s support for the theater Issa runs with his Jewish wife at Jaffa Port, which provides entertainment for Arab and Jewish children, youth and adults.
“If Norman does not withdraw his decision I intend to reconsider the ministry’s support for the Elmina Theater which he manages,” she said.
The protesters’ petition accused Regev of involvement in “the anti-democratic moves instigated by governmental organizations.”
The minister said those petitioning were unfamiliar with her or her policies.
She called their petitioning action “uncultured” and “baseless.”
“I don’t intend to engage in conversations through petitioning,” Regev said Sunday in response to the petition.
She stressed that “upholding the law, respect of mankind and his liberty, and a love of Israel are my guiding principles. I am committed to forwarding culture and fostering creativity in the country as well as to promoting Israeli culture abroad.”
Issa, who is well known to the public for his part in the Channel 2 show “Arab Labor,” for which he received the 2012 Israel Academy Prize for Best Actor in a Comedy Show, said it was unfair to expect him to go against his own conscience and to appear in places “which are controversial.”
Issa added that the matter had come up in the past.
“This is not a new issue, and the problem was solved years ago, at all theaters in Israel, when it was decided that whenever a case arose in which an actor, Jewish or Arab, was unwilling to appear in a particular location, on grounds of conscience, they would be replaced with another actor.”
Barry Davis contributed to this article.