Although no longer in the government, Yisrael Beytenu supports the efforts by Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) to shut down an anti-Israel play, and remove it from the “cultural basket” for events funded by the government. MK Robert Ilatov, the party's Knesset chairman, said that there was no place for the government “to fund this shameful program.”
Ilatov this week sent a letter to Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud), demanding that the government stop funding the play "The Parallel Time" by Almidan, an Arab theater in Haifa. The play tells the story of Walid Daka, an Arab-Israeli imprisoned for abducting and murdering Israeli soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984. “Any organization, like this theater troupe, who sees their top priority as delegitimization of Israel, cannot be funded by the State of Israel.”
The play, which he said glorifies terror attacks against Israel by telling the story of Daka, was the first terrorist to be married in an Israeli prison, “cannot be seen as a 'cultural event,' but one that will encourage terrorism. The Tamam family has been horribly hurt by this, in unimaginable ways. I will certainly oppose any effort to directly or indirectly encourage terrorism,” he added.
Leftists who criticized efforts to defund the play and the theater have claimed that doing so would be unfair and would deny a segment of Israeli society their “voice” – and that nobody had to come and see it. In response, Iliatov wrote that “in the same way, Israelis should not be forced to fund this shameful production.”
Bennett said that a debate on whether or not funding for the play would soon take place. "I have instructed the Education Ministry's director-general to convene the committee and hold a debate on "A Parallel Time," Bennett said last week. This is "due to the fact that when it was approved for production, it was not made clear that this is based on a story of a terrorist, a murderer who is serving a life sentence for his role in the torture and murder of the late Moshe Tamam." "I believe in the committee's professionalism and freedom of expression, but there are some things that are forbidden for us to accept," the Education Minister added.
The play was approved for production by the committee in April 2014, and since its introduction into the national cultural basket, an Education Ministry project aimed at bringing arts and culture to young Israelis, it has been seen by over 900 11th and 12th graders.