Oded Kotler, one of Israel's best known actors, gave a stomach-turning display of elitism at an artists' rally Sunday, held to protest the new government's no-nonsense approach to ultra-leftist artists who suckle funds from the state's teats yet glorify terrorists.
Kotler mockingly addressed Culture Minister Miri Regev, who was not present at the event. “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.”
Kotler was replying to Minister Regev, who told artists who met her last week that Likud had received 30 Knesset mandates and had defeated the Left, which the artists are generally identified with, and which she said received “only 20.” She explained that she intends to carry out the policies supported by the people who voted for her party – and that this meant that no funding would go to artists who boycott the state.
Kotler's speech was interrupted by a man who is apparently a relative of slain soldier Moshe Tamam, who was attending the artists' rally. The ultra-leftist artists are angry with Regev and with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who has refused to give funding to a play that glorifies the terrorist who murdered Tamam in 1984.
"You were defeated in the elections, and you can talk to the wall now for all I care,” the relative told Kotler. “You are talking politics and inciting.” Kotler replied – “Yes, I want to incite.”
Minister Regev responded to Kotler's speech and said that “calling the 30 mandates who voted for Likud 'beasts who chew grass and straw exposes the ugly and supercilious face of the speaker, Oded Kotler, and some of those present, who applauded him. Kotler's statement expresses cultural darkness in my eyes,” she said.
Three hundred artists from the film, theater, dance, literature and music industries signed 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 spirit in these offices."
"We will continue to look at reality, to express our opinions and obey our consciences even if we must pay a price," the artists stressed.
"We will fight against every threat. We will not censor or sterilize our creations because of terrifying laws, intimidation and threats. We will not hide and we will not lower our profile."
The artists targeted Ministers Bennett and Regev over their recent decisions to impose sanctions on two Israeli Arab theaters.
Bennett declared last Tuesday that he was removing the Al Midan Theater's play, "A Parallel Time,” on the life of the terrorist who murdered IDF soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984, from the ministry's culture basket, thereby suspending its government subsidies.
Later that same day, Regev announced she would "reconsider" state funding to the Elmina Theater, after manager Norman Issa refused to participate in a play in Judea and Samaria.