Culture Minister Goes After Troupes that Boycott Yehuda and Shomron

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -

Israel’s culture minister has sent a questionnaire to theaters and dance troupes to find out whether they are performing in Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron, a first step toward changing regulations that will allow her to penalize cultural institutions that refuse to perform there.

Miri Regev’s office said Wednesday she is proud to lead a “revolution” that shuns boycotts and makes culture accessible to all Israeli citizens. Critics, however, say it’s politicizing the art world and impinging artistic freedom.

Regev has had a fraught relationship with the cultural community since her appointment last year, and has been accused of attempting to bring Israeli artists in line with her political ideology.

Last year, Regev froze funding for a theater that staged a play depicting Palestinian security prisoners and was inspired by the life of a man who kidnapped, tortured and killed an Israeli soldier in 1984.

Israeli artists, like their counterparts worldwide, tend to lean liberal, and have long been some of the country’s most vocal opponents of the Jewish presence in Yehudah and Shomron.

In the circulated document, various artistic institutions are asked whether they have refrained from performing in the northern and southern peripheries of the country as well as in Yehudah and Shomron.

Regev has said these results will influence the organizations’ future government funding.

“Minister Regev is leading a policy of incentivizing state-supported cultural institutions to perform in the periphery and Yehudah and Shomron, based on a view that culture is a basic right of all citizens,” her office said in a statement.