The new Culture Minister refers to musicians and actors by adjectives such as “ungrateful” and “hypocritical”, and says she doesn’t feel happy about having to work for them.

Culture Minister Miri Regev

Culture Minister Miri Regev Photo credit: Channel 2 News

Just one day before her scheduled appearance at the Theater Prize Award ceremony, newly appointed Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev launches an unprecedented attack against Israeli artists in music, stage and film.

The interview will be published on Ma’ariv’s lifestyle magazine next month, and audio excerpts from it were aired Thursday evening on Channel 2 News. In them, Regev can be heard calling the artists “a bunch of ungrateful, hypocritical know-it-alls,” as well as attacking some of them personally and expressing her initial reluctance to work for them.

Artists have lately been expressing their dismay and concern over a series of actions by Regev and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, notably refusing to fund a theater play which was inspired by the life story of a Palestinian terrorist and threatening to close down a theater owned by an Arab actor who had refused to act in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Many in the art world perceive those actions as harmful to the freedom of expression.

In the interview, Regev mentions singer Shalom Hanoch, who last month requested that no politician give a speech at his concert in the Israel Festival. “The only reason he can be there and perform is because I gave the money for this festival, and he allows himself to tell me not to come?” she says.

Shalom Hanoch

Shalom Hanoch Photo credit: Channel 2 News

Last week, in a meeting with a group of artists at the Knesset, Regev claimed the Israeli art world was controlled by the left wing, and wished to make it clear that she was now the one in charge. “I am the one who sets the criteria,” she fired at them. “If I want to, I can decide that the money will go to the periphery and the settlements only. The government isn’t obligated to support culture. I can decide where the money goes, and you artists are not going to dictate anything. If we can agree on those terms, you’re going to have a partner. Otherwise, we’ll be in trouble.”

When asked by the interviewer about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s stance regarding limiting the freedom of expression, Regev says Netanyahu is “pleased with the fact that we are putting those red lines down, and that the government no longer feels the need to apologize like previous ones have.”