Israeli Culture and Sports Minister (and former Brigadier General) Miri Regev has a curious view of democracy. Regev is the author of a “cultural loyalty” bill that would allow fines or withdrawing support for any institution for a host of free speech violations, including “the denial of Israel’s democratic nature.” Thus, the bill would allow Israel to punish those who challenge its commitment to democracy so that Israel can show that it is a democracy. Follow? Let’s try again. If someone denies Israel is a true democracy, they will be punished of using their free speech to criticize the government. Well, the important thing is that it all makes sense to Regev. It is taken from the same oxymoronic lesson book as “the beatings will continue until morale improves” or “destroying a village to save it.”
Regev was long the spokeswoman for the Israeli Defense Forces. She has long been a menace to free speech and artists. When the al-Midan theater wanted to put on the play “A Parallel Time” (about Walid Daka, who planned the murder of IDF soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984), Regev froze state funding for the al-Midan theater where the play was being performed.
Now she wants more power to police free speech and artistic expression.
Article 3a currently places this power with the Finance Minister but Regev wants the power to punish free speech in the Ministry of Culture because “it is the Ministry of Culture’s responsibility to supervise cultural institutions, including what they offer, and make sure they are not breaking the country’s laws.” While many would question the need for any cultural ministry (culture tends to evolve on its own), Regev made clear that being a democracy does not mean enjoying democratic freedoms and culture must meet a government test for acceptability: “Cultural institutions are not above the law. They must work according to the laws of the State of Israel and we must make sure of this – and not keep our eyes closed.”
Regev’s career was helped by staunchly anti-immigration rhetoric like in 2012 when she called illegal Sudanese immigrants “a cancer in our body.”