28 January '16..
The public outcry surrounding a recent bill stipulating "loyalty" to the state as a criterion for funding of artistic projects has raised a number of crucial questions. What is art? Must the state fund any type of art under the principle of freedom of expression? Even if the art in question unduly maligns Israel?
These questions over the essence of art remind me of an event that took place in January, 2004. While the Stockholm International Forum 2004 -- Preventing Genocide: Threats and Responsibilities was underway, a controversial art installation went on display at the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm. The installation, titled "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," featured a pristine, white photograph of female suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat floating on a pool of blood while Bach's cantata "Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut" (my heart swims in blood) played in the background.
A little over a year before the event, on Oct. 4, 2003, 29-year-old Jaradat, an attorney, blew herself up in a Haifa restaurant, killing 21 people including four Israeli Arab restaurant employees. Dozens were left wounded.
The art installation, created by Israeli-born composer and musician Dror Feiler, and his Swedish wife, artist Gunilla Skold-Feiler, appeared to suggest that Jaradat was the victim and that terror victims were the aggressors. In my purely unprofessional view (and I do not pretend to know the answer to the question, "What is art?"), this installation was psychotic. When it comes to support and funding, I don't have an iota of doubt that an installation like this, and others that represent the interests of Israel's enemies or distort Israel's image, cannot be funded under any circumstances by the State of Israel.
There are red lines, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that these red lines are drawn in the blood of Jewish and Israeli victims of murderous terrorist attacks and that of innocent bystanders who sadly get caught in these acts. These attacks have been ongoing for more than 100 years as the Arab residents of "Palestine" rise up against the very existence of Jews in general, not to mention the existence of a Jewish state here in Israel.
In stipulating loyalty, Culture Minister Miri Regev is underscoring these red lines. Freedom of expression will be honored, but the "art of incitement" will not enjoy state funding. The aforementioned installation was generously funded by the government of Sweden. Anyone who has similar artistic inclinations is welcome to approach the Swedish culture minister, or her colleague, the Swedish foreign minister, who would probably be more than happy to provide the necessary support.
I am still waiting for an artwork to reflect the days of the so-called "hunting season" -- when members of Jewish underground movements Irgun and Lehi were turned in to the British authorities by their Jewish brothers in the Haganah in the 1940s. I'm still waiting for the play about the greatness of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who was wise enough to prevent a civil war after the Altalena, a ship laden with weapons meant to be used in Israel's War of Independence, was shot under orders by then-Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion.
Foundations that put Palestinian Arabs' right to live here over our right to do the same, or prefer the Palestinian "Nakba" promoted by those who want to exterminate us over a multifaceted representation of the struggle and the righteousness of the Zionist enterprise can go look for funding elsewhere. I refuse to let my tax money support them.
Updates throughout the day at http://calevbenyefuneh.
blogspot.com. If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work as well as a big vote to follow our good friend Kay Wilson on Twitter.