Thursday, 18 June 2015

They want Respect

The well-respected Israeli actor Oded Kotler got into trouble for a comment he made a few days ago at an emergency meeting of Israeli artists considering their options following the appointment of a former military censor and Likkud politician, Ms. Miri Regev, as Minister of Culture.

Regev had already explained that she was going to call the shots, as “we got 30 Knesset seats, …we don’t need to get confused about who the public is, and who [the public] chose.” The new minister called on Israeli artists to increase their outward expression of Israeli nationalism during performances.

Kotler, addressed Regev and said: “Imagine your world is quiet — without books, without music, without poems, a world where no one disturbs you and no one stops the nation from celebrating the 30 [Knesset] seats which are followed by a herd of straw and cud-chewing cattle.”

I am not quite sure how one should define the almost million Israelis who voted Netanyahu and his gang. However, this reminded me of a story my father told me about the man in 1920s Berlin, who was taken to court and made to pay a fine for having said “you stupid cow” (or rather dumme Gans) to a lady. Before leaving the court, the man addressed the judge and asked: “I understand that I may not call an honorable lady, a stupid cow. Could you please tell me if I may call a stupid cow, an honorable lady?”

The judge smiled and said that that was indeed permitted. Upon which, the defendant turned to his accuser and said “ Goodbye, honorable lady”. 

Break or Silence

The mayor of Cologne succumbed to Israeli pressure and cancelled a planned exhibition in his city of Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organisation that collects and publicises testimonies of former Israeli soldiers about human rights violations committed or observed during their army service.

If they can’t break them, the Israeli government, wishes to at least silence them:
 - We will not be complacent when an organization whose whole purpose is to tarnish IDF soldiers acts in the international arena in order to cause serious damage to Israel’s image. - Israel considers the more than a thousand Israelis who have given these testimonies to be traitors and or liars.

It now turns out that Cologne’s mayor has succumbed yet again, this time to criticism over his decision, and the exhibition will take a place at a later date. To be fair, the exhibition should not have been scheduled – as it was - to be part of the festivities marking 50 years diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel. The mayor of Cologne, however, was right to quickly find a solution for the exhibition to take place after all.

The work of Breaking the Silence is laudable and deserves to be supported.