Culture Minister Probes Troupes That Shun Settlements in the OPT

Far-right Minister of Culture Miri Regev (Likud) has sent out a controversial questionnaire to theater companies and dance troupes to determine whether they refrain from performing in settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The questionnaire is the first step in a campaign Regev is leading to allow her ministry to penalize publicly-funded cultural institutions that refuse to perform in the settlements.

The Culture Hall in the West Bank Settlement of Ariel

The Culture Hall in the West Bank Settlement of Ariel (Photo: The 7th Eye)

Regev has had strained relations with the cultural community since her appointment last year, and has been accused of attempting to bring Israeli artists into line with her extremist political ideology. The latest episode is the distribution last week of an official document to various artistic institutions which were asked whether they have refrained from performing in the northern and southern peripheries of the country or in the West Bank settlements.

Regev has announced that the responses to this questionnaire will influence each organization’s future governmental funding. “Minister Regev is leading a policy of incentivizing state-supported cultural institutions to perform in the periphery and Judea and Samaria [West Bank], based on a view that culture is a basic right of all citizens,” her office said in a statement.

In response, Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) said Regev is cynically exploiting the public’s positive sentiments toward northern and southern Israeli communities to boost the settlements. “The government is not interested in artists and cultural institutions that ‘boycott the Negev and the Galilee,’ as these don’t exist, but rather artists and cultural institutions that do not want to support the illegal settlement enterprise,” Khenin said in a statement.