Regev attacks screening of controversial film as loyalty bill stalls

State attorney said the legislation would significantly harm freedom of expression in Israel.

Minister Miri Regev (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Minister Miri Regev
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Culture Minister Miri Regev’s so-called “loyalty bill” received a setback on Sunday that put its future in question. But that hasn’t prevented Regev from continuing to target a series of cultural endeavors in Israel she considers offensive.
Despite receiving support for her bill from Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon last month, the legislation appeared to stall on Sunday. Discussion of the bill in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation has been delayed by at least a week. Army Radio reported on Sunday morning that State Attorney Shai Nitzan has recommended the government not support the bill.
In a written recommendation revealed by Army Radio on Sunday, Nitzan said the legislation “would harm the right to freedom of expression, and lead artists to shy away from creating different content for fear of losing government support.”
Nitzan added that the bill would create oversight in the field of culture “that is the most severe, more than in welfare, education and religion, and specifically in a domain that places high value of freedom of cultural expression.” Nitzan said such a bill would be difficult to defend to the High Court of Justice, which views art as a “form of expression which requires special protection.”
Nevertheless, on Sunday Regev set her sights on preventing an upcoming screening of the film Naila and the Uprising.
The film – produced by the pro-Palestinian NGO Just Vision – tells the story of the First Intifada from the Palestinian perspective, framing it as “the most vibrant, nonviolent mobilization in Palestinian history.”
The film, which was released last year, is slated to be screened for the first time in Israel this Thursday at the Arab-Hebrew Theater in Jaffa.
“Screening the film Naila and the Uprising illustrates again the ‘tied hands’ of the current legal approach,” Regev said Sunday. “Currently, with no obstructions, terrorism and terror supporters are portrayed as cultural heroes again and again on the public stage. The attorney-general and the government must urgently advance its approval of the loyalty bill, and stop the theater of the absurd.”
The future of Regev’s cultural loyalty bill remains in question. But the culture minister’s campaign against this film screening caps off a week of her taking aim at other artistic expressions she doesn’t believe belong in the Jewish state.
Last Tuesday, Regev spoke out against both a new play and an upcoming book release. The culture minister said the Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv should not be staging the upcoming play I, Dareen Tatour. Tatour, a Palestinian-Israeli poet, was sentenced to five months in Israeli prison in late July for incitement, and released after serving about six weeks of her sentence.
“I will use all of my power to stop the play I, Dareen Tatour from being staged at the Tmuna Theater, which is supported by the Culture Ministry,” Regev said last week.
“The public stage is not the platform to support those who encourage terrorism and who incite to violence.”
Tickets for the show next weekend are still currently for sale on the theater’s website.
Regev also successfully canceled an event scheduled for last week in Baka al-Gharbiya to launch a children’s book by convicted terrorist Walid Daka. Daka, who is still in prison, was convicted for playing a role in the 1984 murder of IDF soldier Moshe Tamam.
“The time has come to stop giving a platform to terrorist and murderers,” Regev said last week. “Terrorists should rot in prison – that’s their place.”