Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev has asked Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to see if the Tel Aviv Cinematheque can be fined for holding a film festival about the Nakba, reports Haaretz.
“While Israel is celebrating 70 years, the [Tel Aviv] Cinematheque State is trying to remember and sanctify the Nakba. Not on my watch,” said Regev.
The minister claims that holding such a festival would violate the Nakba Law, which, as Haaretz explains, “is written into the budget” thus “giving the finance minister the power to withhold funds from government-supported institutions if they hold events which deny Israel’s right to exist.”
The paper adds that Regev has “called for an urgent meeting of a government committee that reviews complaints against events that might undermine the state, its symbols and values, in hopes of cutting the cinematheque’s funding for the film festival”.
The festival is planned by Zochrot, an organisation which raises awareness amongst Jewish Israelis about the Nakba, and promotes the return of the Palestinian refugees.
Zochrot responded to Regev in a statement: “We believe that without knowing about and taking responsibility for the events of 1948 we cannot achieve peace and integration into this region. It is time for a critical reflection on the past, present and future.”
According to Haaretz, “some of the films in the upcoming festival were originally scheduled to be screened at the Al-Saraya Theatre in Jaffa, but the theatre cancelled, citing concerns it would see some of its government funding cut.”
The theatre has previously been in danger of losing funding for staging an event called “Notebooks from Prison” and for holding an evening honouring Dareen Tatour, a poet and Palestinian citizen under house arrest charged with social media ‘incitement’.