Miki Zohar vows to withdraw funding for ‘slanderous Israel’ artwork

The new Minister of Culture and Sports, Miki Zohar, vowed Monday not to fund works of art that “defame the reputation of the State of Israel in the country and in the world”.

Speaking at the handover ceremony with his predecessor, the Chili Tropper, Zohar said no taxpayer shekels would be spent on art and cultural forms that “promote a narrative” against Israel.

“The world of culture and art is a world that represents us as humans, as a nation. We will refuse funding to those who promote the narrative of our enemy and damage Israel’s reputation,” he said.

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“Terrorists and martyrs will not be presented as heroes under our watch. We will not compromise on ideology,” Zohar added.

The minister, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said accepting the ministry was a ‘dream come true’ and noted that his son, Eliav, is a musician who recently won a popular music reality TV show.

“I raised an artist and I can learn how the soul of an artist behaves. So I think the world of culture will have a minister who can move forward,” said Zohar.

Eliav Zohar, center, wins the reality show ‘The Next Star’, at Rishon Lezion on September 20, 2022. (Flash90)

“I have countless projects and I hope to make them all happen,” he added.

“If successful, they will change Israeli culture. We will do everything to provide more resources. The funds we currently have are insufficient. We need to close the gap with worldwide spending. »

Zohar also praised Tropper. “There is no doubt that you will be remembered as an outstanding Minister of Culture and Sport. »

In his remarks, Tropper warned his successor against the risks of reviving his previous struggles over culture, in a clear nod to his own predecessor, Likud MK Miri Regev.

“We have proven that respect is not only more appropriate, I think, but also more effective. A culture of lies and hatred has no reason to exist,” said Tropper.

“Don’t rush into a fight; it’s been years of bickering and bickering. Don’t rush to get back there,” he continued.

“Ministers have a lot of power, and through this position of power, you can multiply the good or create the bad. One can destroy by force or one can repair by one’s protective power. »

New Minister of Culture and Sports Miki Zohar, right, with his predecessor, Chili Tropper, during the handover ceremony, in Jerusalem, January 2, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“I don’t think we want to live in a country where the Minister of Culture interferes in certain performances,” Tropper said last summer, justifying his refusal to interfere in a musical, entitled “Basic Instinct”.

The musical features testimony from IDF soldiers serving in the West Bank, testimony collected by the far-left group, Breaking the Silence.

“Today I am, tomorrow someone else with a different opinion is sitting in my place,” said Tropper.

Regev, however, has not been shy about intervening in similar cases, fighting for a cultural loyalty law that would allow him to withhold public funds for cultural organizations “acting contrary to state principles.”

Minister of Culture and Sport Chili Tropper in Tel Aviv on April 6, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Meanwhile, the new communications minister, Shlomo Karhi, said on Monday that he would push ahead with plans to “lead the communications market towards a free and competitive market”.

Karhi, a Likud MP, last month voiced her support for closing the news divisions of Israeli public broadcaster Kan and Army Radio.

“Television should cover everything. We must allow the different voices that make us who we are to be heard. There are still less voices being heard in the Israeli media,” said Karhi.

He added that he intended to “strengthen the expansion of the Jewish presence” in the West Bank. “We have to provide them with the infrastructure to do that. »

The new minister also said he would work to overturn his predecessor, Yoaz Hendel’s decision to relax restrictions on ‘halal’ mobile phone plans and open up the market to so-called ‘halal’ channels. ultra-Orthodox authorities and politicians.

“The outgoing minister makes decisions regarding the use of mobile phones in the haredi community – an attempt to intervene in the usage patterns of ordinary citizens,” said Karhi. “I intend to reverse these changes in the coming days. To implement this policy, I plan to appoint Elad Malka as the new Director General of the Ministry. »

New Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi arrives for a group photo with the new government at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem on December 29, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Malka has previously expressed support for the privatization of Israel’s public broadcaster Kan and even the closure of the Ministry of Communications.

In a column published at Makor Rishon last month, titled “Closing public channels? Malka said Kan’s problem was not his budget, but “he destroyed the private market.”

Malka is the founder of the “Our Interests – Your Lobby” lobby group in the Knesset, which calls for more competitive markets. Previously, he was head of the Israel Media Watch organization, which studies media-related policies. He is also a member of the Jerusalem council and is considered a liberal within the Likud ranks.

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