Photo Credit: Eytan Schweber/TPS
"I Love Shomron" sign at the Tapuach Junction in the Shomron.

Several Israeli leaders rejected a call by Israeli filmmakers to boycott cultural events in Samaria, calling for a separation between culture and politics.

About 140 filmmakers announced that they will not cooperate with the Shomron Cinema Fund, and if the Ophir Awards ceremony is held there, they will oppose it.

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Minister of Culture Hilli Tropper stated Wednesday that “belief in the value of freedom of expression should not be a limited privilege or only to certain opinions. Even if sometimes there are disputes or challenging and even angering works, freedom should be preserved, as long as it complies with the laws of the country.”

“Certain works are difficult for me as well, but I try to keep a separation between politics and culture and suggest that everyone, from all sides, do the same,” he said.

The national film funds “operate with full artistic freedom and are designed to allow the variety of voices in Israeli society to be heard. Diversity is not a curse, but a blessing,” he underscored. “Every person and their position deserves respect, every creator can choose whether and to which fund to submit his work or of course avoid submitting to a certain fund, but it is better not to use funds and their location as a tool for political manipulation.

He further noted that “it is strange that there are those who complain about others about mixing culture and politics, when they act exactly the same. Mixing politics and art does not grow good things, only unnecessary hatred.”

He further suggested that “everyone not to rate others on how much they care about cinema and culture and whether their motive is political. Different Israelis who hold different positions can all also hold a love for art.”

“And above all, the Shomron Cinema Fund works according to the laws of the country and serves all the citizens of the country, just like any other cinema fund. Those who respect the law and especially those who respect freedom of expression, should be consistent in this matter. When it’s convenient, and when it’s less convenient,” he concluded.

Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman stated in response that “for a long while now, culture is no longer the property of an ‘elitist’ handful. As is the case with the media, law, academia, industry, and the IDF, residents of Judea and Samaria are an integral and inseparable part of the fabric of Israeli society in all areas of life.”

“I say to those artists who have turned to boycotts: get out of your fantasy worlds, and wake up to the reality of thriving Jewish communities in Judea of Samaria. Be a part of the nation and not BDS. I invite you to Gush Etzion to discuss culture. You will only benefit from it.  The rule of law in the Shomron is the same as in Gush Etzion, and the law in Gush Etzion is the same as in Tel Aviv,” he said.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.