Regev sparks outrage at Ophir Awards after leaving the hall over Palestinian poem: “A disgrace to us all”

Israeli artists were furious with Miri Regev’s conduct at the Ophir Awards ceremony yesterday after the Israeli Culture Minister exited the hall when a poem by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish was read: “You should be ashamed of yourself.” Regev: “It was a degrading evening. No one will silence me.”

Watch: Regev leaving the hall

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Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev sparked a scandal when she exited the hall of the annual ceremony of the Ophir Awards, also known as the Israeli Oscars, in protest of a performance that included the reading of a poem by national Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Israeli artists, singers and actors who were present at the event published condemnations against Regev’s conduct this morning (Friday), claiming that she should be “ashamed of herself.”

“I don’t understand why in Israel 2016, in ceremonies and cultural conventions, all the commissars, chairmen, people in power, mayors and others are aloud to give speeches,” Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi wrote on his Facebook page. “Yesterday’s farce is a disgrace to us all.”

"A disgrace to us all.” Ashkenazi Photo Credit: Reuters / Channel 2 News

“You should be ashamed of yourself Miri Regev, who purports to be the ‘Minister of Culture’, for daring to leave the hall while the best rapper in Israel, who coincidentally is also Palestinian, took to the stage to sing,” Israeli director and screenwriter Veronica Kedar added. “Even if the words are not to your liking – he held a microphone, not a gun. I wish you knew the difference.”

Regev held a press conference today in Tel Aviv in order to address the pandemonium that erupted at the event after she exited the hall, as many in the audience chose to leave in protest during the speech she gave upon returning to the hall. “It was a degrading evening,” she stated. “No one will silence me.”

Regev during her press conference Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

“Reading the song of a poet who calls for the destruction of the State of Israel is not a question of right or left – it is about protecting our very existence as a Jewish state,” she added, claiming that she did not know that a song by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish would be played at the event.

Regev went on to address the decision of many Israeli artists to leave the hall during her speech, as well as the conduct of Israeli actor Roy Assaf, who tried to get on stage and was removed from the event. “The other red line that has been crossed is the verbal bullying and violence we saw yesterday,” she stated. “All those cultural figures claim to be cultivated but cannot accept a voice that is different from theirs. I stand there and they yell and do not allow me to finish my speech and at the end one of the actors, Roy Assaf, who received an Oscar last year, allows himself to burst onto the stage. I don’t know what would have happened if he had reached me.”

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