MKs from right and left on Sunday evening sharply criticized remarks made by actor Oded Kotler against the right and particularly against Culture Minister Miri Regev.
Kotler, one of Israel's best known actors, mocked Regev at an artists' rally that was held to protest the new government's policy that no funding would go to artists who boycott the state.
“Imagine your world, Mrs. Regev,” he said, “as a quiet world, with no book, no music, no poem, a world with no one to disturb… no one to disturb the nation, in its celebration of 30 mandates, followed by a marching herd of beasts chewing straw and stubble.”
Opposition chairman MK Yitzhak Herzog condemned the comments and said, "Kotler's words, the words that came out of [Yair] Garbuz’s mouth and the applause that followed from the audience, there is nothing between these behaviors and culture and human love or pluralism.”
“Even artists and intellectuals need to know that during a difficult and justified debate, one should choose to treat people who think differently with dignity. Even when their opinion drives one crazy,” continued Herzog.
Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid denounced Kotler’s remarks as well, saying, “Israeli society is allowed to define what is allowed and what is not. We must not fund a play about the life of a terrorist who kidnapped and murdered an IDF soldier. We must not finance a film about the life of Yigal Amir, the murderer of the prime minister. We must not call those who think differently from us a beast.”
“We must not turn this ugly, violent discourse into what defines us. I call on everyone: Stop, calm down, do not let violence run our lives,” he continued.
MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) referred to Kotler’s remarks on his Facebook page as “condescending, detached from reality, anti-democratic. So much lack of culture in one statement. Shame.”
MK Yoav Kish (Likud) said that he does not intend to ignore Kotler’s serious remarks and said, “There is a debate whether the government has the right not to fund a play that harms IDF soldiers, about 'art' which aims to delegitimize the State of Israel. Regardless of the debate, Kotler’s remarks are not legitimate.”
“A million people are not beasts," he stressed. “They are the sane majority who love this country. Freedom of expression exists for those provocative plays. I join the opinion of Minister Regev and strengthen her position that funding this ‘culture’, which is fighting the state's legitimacy, is absolute nonsense.”
Turning directly to Kotler, Kish said, “All that remains is that you take back what you said as soon as possible. Unfortunately, you're the one who chose to use freedom of expression in an inappropriate manner.”