Leftist artists in Israel have been visibly furious this week over what they are calling a threat to free speech, in response to promises by Culture Minister Miri Regev and EducationMinister Naftali Bennet to cut off funding for anti-Israel theater productions.
Artists from the film, theater, dance, literature and music industries published a letter Sunday, “protesting the non-democratic measures taken by the Education and Culture Ministries against artists whose creative works or outlooks do not jive with the prevailing spirit in these offices.”
So they say, but is the halting of governmentfunding for works of art that support anti-Israel boycotts (BDS) or that glorify Islamic terrorism really non-democratic? Can it honestly be called “silencing creators who don’t align with the regime’s position,” as one left-wing Knesset member recently called it?
In a free society, we are obliged to allow artistic expression of all kinds, as long as it doesn’t cause a direct and immediate danger to public safety. However, the tax-paying citizens are not required to fund all such expressions. In fact, it is the absolute opposite of democracy for the citizens of a free country to be forced to provide funding to every artistic program that runs blatantly counter to the values, indeed the very survival, of that country. Such government coercion in the form of such forced financing would be the antithesis of freedom, cynically carried out in the name of freedom.
The government elected by the people has an obligation to allow free speech and free expression, not to give government handouts to anti-Israel theater groups and other similar artists. Such groups have no moral or legal right to pick the pockets of the Israeli public, and therefore, the government ministers are correct in signaling an end to such theft.
Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel National News