June 17, 2015: Regev and culture

Readers respond to the latest 'Jerusalem Post' articles.

Envelope (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Regev and culture
With regard to “Regev: We won’t fund those who slander Israel” (June 16), almost a year ago, much of the Jewish world was up in arms because New York City’s Metropolitan Opera produced an work that portrayed the horrific murder of Leon Klinghoffer. At the time, the Met justified the production, claiming it was art. But art does not justify cold-blooded murder.
Now, once again, we are expected to equate murder with art. Not only that, it is being demanded of the government and, indirectly, us, the taxpayers, to actually pay for the production of a play that portrays and justifies the murder of an Israeli soldier.
Realize, of course, that Miri Regev, the minister of culture, never refused the playwright permission to put on such an abomination; rather, he was refused a subsidy. So now the community of actors is up in arms against the entire ministry, claiming the play is “culture.”
Actor Oded Kotler even compared all those who support Regev’s decision as “hay-eating animals.” As someone who studied English literature in college, I was exposed to a great deal of fine culture. Perhaps Kotler feels that any piece written by anyone is automatically high culture worthy of public support.
No, such culture is not necessarily our culture. And no, Kotler’s words were not taken out of context. We the taxpayers should not be expected to pay for a treasonous production.
Actor Oded Kotler’s comments in reaction to Culture Minister Miri Regev’s common-sense refusal to fund anti-Israel “artistic” endeavors were despicable and self-serving. We don’t have to imagine a world “silent, without books, music and poems.” Just look to almost any of Israel’s neighbors. Try plying your “art” there, Mr. Kotler, and see where it lands you. There’s not even a fine line between artistic freedom and treasonous comments and actions. Kotler and most artists seem to believe they own the only truths, with no care or regard to how this affects their sponsoring and nurturing home country.
Los Angeles
Oded Kotler is not just following other has-beens both in Israel and abroad – faded actors and former singers who try and regain fame by attacking Jews or Israel. He returns to his former sins. Thirty-five years ago, as manager of the Haifa Theater, he tried to bring Vanessa Redgrave to appear only a couple of years after she justified the murder of 30 innocents in the 1978 Coastal Road attack. So who is the animal?
Hats off to Miri Regev
A theater that is designed to instill in Jewish and Arab teens balance and harmony, but instead exemplifies, through its founder, disdain and discordance, should not benefit from the largesse of the State of Israel. I’m sure Kuwait or Qatar would gladly fill in for any loss of funds sustained by Norman Issa’s Elmina Theater. Actually, the theater might do well in Kuwait or Qatar, but of course the authorities probably wouldn’t let Issa into their country.
While I do not condone public slander and most certainly do not consider name-calling adult behavior, I would not withhold public funding for arts and entertainment venues because of their views. Mud slinging and vitriol are a time-honored tradition in the political arena. If we silence political dissent, we lose our place as a democracy and promoter of free speech. Culture Minister Miri Regev should develop a thicker skin.
Your June 16 columns with regard to our culture minister’s recent behavior (“Job description: Minister of culture, not chief censor,” Reality Check; “Is the recent threat to deny funding to two Arab theaters justified?” Think Again) bothered me. But what really lit my fuse was their relationship to the cartoon on the previous page.
The cartoon was for “Tel Aviv pride.” It showed an Orthodox man saying, “It’s like Sodom and Gomorrah,” to which a secular- looking man answers, “You mean all your sins of intolerance and hatred?” Freedom of speech can seem one-sided today. If someone says “Death to the Arabs” or “Gay people need psychological help,” he is silenced and painted as a racist or fascist. When someone tries to stop a play scripted by a murdering terrorist, she is a dictator.
The double standard of the Left is clear: Its adherents can say what they want, but those on the Right cannot. As a friend of mine once jokingly said, “Leftists’ noses are so stuck up in the air that when they sneeze the ceiling gets wet.”
Freedom of speech has its limits and is a two-way street.
Three cheers for Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Culture Minister Miri Regev (“Bennett and Regev criticized by Left for questioning state funding of theaters,” June 11). It is about time we refused to be browbeaten by “artists” who want to contribute to the demonization of Israel and expect us to be quiet about our demise. Nobody wants to interfere with freedom of expression. By all means, express yourselves. But don’t expect to use my tax money to pay for your freedom while trampling on mine.
Petah Tikva
Do your homework!
With reference to “Kfar Saba edges Ra’anana for Israeli netball title” (Sports Shorts, June 16), the Jerusalem Post sports staff did not do its homework! I must assume that the report was translated from the Hebrew, with no awareness that kadur reshet is not the sport recognized internationally as netball. I find this strange considering the Post has published several (but obviously not enough) reports about netball, including “The rise of netball – Israel’s misunderstood sport” in November 2009.
I can confirm that Israeli netball is alive and well, celebrating its sixth league finals last Thursday, when the young Katamon players took gold for the first time, beating Tel Aviv by two goals. We have many exciting plans for the future, including sending a team to next year’s Netball Europe Open and once again hosting the netball tournament at the 2017 Maccabiah Games.
The writer is president of Israel Netball.
Define ‘proportionality’
Your editorial “Israeli war ethics” (June 15) mistakenly uses the term “proportionality” to describe the ratio of deaths between non-combatants and combatants – itself a fuzzy distinction. Proportionality should refer to whether the toll in life and limb resulting from the use of force is excessive in relation to the military objectives, which in the case of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge were to stop Hamas’s rocket attacks and tunneling.
The war lasted 52 days. When Israel and Hamas accepted the first cease fire, the death toll was 195 in Gaza and one in Israel. Hamas then broke this and six subsequent cease fires. The death tolls soared. The final toll was 2,127 Gazans and 72 Israelis. The terms of all the cease-fires in last summer’s fighting, put forth by Egypt, were nearly identical. Hamas thus bears direct responsibility for the huge death tolls among Gazans and Israelis.
Indeed, there would have been no war – and no deaths or destruction – had Hamas not carried out the rocket attacks that triggered the conflict. The dry numbers diagnose the low value Hamas assigns to the lives of its people in pursuit of its genocidal goals directed against another people.
The writer is a physician and professor, and a co-founder of the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention.