At the conclusion of her stint as Culture Minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s departing government, Miri Regev on Monday decided to reach a trifecta in Israel’s disputes with world Jewry, this one, it appears, wholly needless: having herself instituted only two years ago the nice custom of inviting a Jewish dignitary from abroad to light a torch at the opening ceremony of Israel’s Independence Day, Regev now killed the practice.
The response from her office has so far maneuvered between “Who said it was supposed to happen every year?” to a tacit admission that the Culture Minister is punishing diaspora Jews for attacking Netanyahu’s decision to invite Kahanist party Jewish Power to join the more mainstream right-wing.
Naftali Bennett, whose ministerial authority includes Diaspora Jewry, did not hesitate to condemn the vindictive decision, saying: “At a time when Jewish communities around the world face daily Anti-Semitic assaults, and when the integral bond between the Diaspora and the State of Israel faces unprecedented pressures, Likud Minister Miri Regev has decided to block a representative of Diaspora communities from lighting a torch on Israel’s Independence Day.
“This is an insult to all the Jewish People. It is an insult to millions of Jews around the world who look to Israel as their homeland, and to the millions of Jews who have come from the four corners of the globe to make Aliyah to Israel.
“I call on the Prime Minister to overturn this ridiculous decision of Minister Regev. As Education Minister and Diaspora Minister, I will make sure that schools in Israel will include the Diaspora communities in their ceremonies to mark Yom Ha’atzmaut. We are one people!”
The Ruderman Family Foundation denounces Minister Regev for her “misguided decision,” stating:
“The State of Israel was established as the homeland of the Jewish people and continues to be a beacon for Jews all over the world. At the same time Jews around the world in the Diaspora play a vital role in ensuring Israel’s security, international political support, massive economic investment and thousands of connections that bolster the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”
“Minister Miri Regev is wrong to disrespect millions of Jews around the world and their vital connections to Israel by discontinuing the Diaspora torch at the Yom Haatzmaut ceremony,” the statement concluded. “Regev’s misguided decision threatens to unnecessarily setback relations between Israel and worldwide Jewry.”
I have one question in this context: since Miri Regev is officially Minister of Culture and Sport, can we classify her most recent move as turning Culture into a contact Sport?