Culture and Sport Minister MK Miri Regev (Likud) on Monday defended changes she has made in the ministry’s budget which have not been to the liking of some of the past recipients of generous allocations.
Regev told the Knesset Finance Committee that since her appointment as minister in 2015 there has indeed been a major change in the spending policy.
During Monday’s committee session, Regev displayed a map of the 2015 budget which illustrated how the funds were distributed just before she took office.
“I am against the ‘two states for two peoples’ policy, both budget-wise and policy-wise. A situation in which Tel Aviv receives most of the budget, and the rest of the country receives less, is not a workable budget,” she was quoted as saying by Arutz Sheva.
“The culture map for 2017–2018 is completely different. The Ministry used to serve only as an ATM. It had no policy, no agenda, no way to deal with existing distortions. It completely lacked distributive justice, and it was outrageous.
“The ministry’s budget does not belong to any elite,” Regev said. “It belongs to the entire public, to every sector, and to every region of Israel. We want to work towards distributive justice, and the public deserves to hear the full report.”
Regev described the situation when she came into office as one of dominance by the established institutions and bigger cities in the central region.
“The strong center won the day, and all of the weaker ones fell to the wayside. Rahat never saw anything from the Culture Ministry, and neither did Elad or Rekhasim. First, they needed to have activities for two years, before they could receive anything. How can you build an Ethiopian or Druze theater if there’s no initial funding? And we managed to change that… We worked to fight the discrimination of different sectors and populations.”
Regev also spoke about the current reforms, which will go into effect next year.
“The Culture and Sport Ministry never had a very big budget,” Regev said. “During our first year, we provided 100 percent protection to Tel Aviv institutions. From next year, the institutions will need to prove themselves worthy before we provide that budget. Our budget grew by 31.6 percent, and that’s good news for Israel. It means that no matter who the culture minister is, there will be more to work with.”
Regev has earned the ire and animosity of Israel’s secular liberal elites for her refusal to fund cultural programs which she has deemed subversive, glorifying terrorists, or displaying immorality.
Her outspoken, unapologetic approach has pleased her right-wing constituency as much as it has angered her opponents.