Last week’s flip-flop veto by Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel’s participation in Creative Europe is a hard, vengeful and superfluous blow to Israel’s culture industry.

The scheme is the European Union’s flagship funding scheme for culture, funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into cooperative ventures, which the government led by Bennett had agreed in principle to join back in June. Signing the agreement would have allowed local cultural institutions to compete for European grants and forge ties with foreign artists and cultural institutions – vital oxygen for Israel’s culture industry, particularly after the coronavirus crisis.

There’s a catch, however. The contract between Israel and the European Union contains a provision that excludes all of the occupied territories, as do all of the European projects that Israel joined in the past. The so-called territorial clause specifies that no money from the program is to be spent in the settlements, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights. Unlike Israel, the European Union has not erased the Green Line: Money for Israeli culture, yes; money for culture in occupied territory, no.

This is not a hidden clause that Bennett discovered last week. As prime minister, Bennett had no objection to Israel’s joining the scheme despite the exclusion of the territories. The cabinet he led unanimously approved in principle accession to the program, and even authorized Culture Minister Chili Tropper to draft a compensation mechanism for the cultural institutions beyond the Green Line that will be excluded from the program’s support due to their location. Furthermore, Bennett agreed to exclude the settlements from Horizon, a similar EU scheme for scientists working in technology fields.

So why did Bennett withdraw his support for Israel’s participation in such an important project? In a statement, he said it was because he believes a caretaker government should avoid taking significant measures that are controversial, particularly if they are not urgent. In other words, it’s personal revenge. This is Bennett’s way of “repaying” Prime Minister Yair Lapid for his support at the United Nations General Assembly last week of a two-state solution, which Bennett sees as a violation of the coalition agreement.

This is a terribly cynical move by Bennett that is the polar opposite of the politics of change that he introduced. He has no problem with agreements that exclude the settlements in general, nor with Israel joining the specific program, which, as noted, he supported three months ago. He simply got annoyed with Lapid, and now the world of culture will pay the price. It’s not too late to come to your senses, Bennett, and retract the veto. It’s simply unfair, and uncultured.

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Uncultured Cynicism

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29.09.2022

Last week’s flip-flop veto by Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel’s participation in Creative Europe is a hard, vengeful and superfluous blow to Israel’s culture industry.

The scheme is the European Union’s flagship funding scheme for culture, funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into cooperative ventures, which the government led by Bennett had agreed in principle to join back in June. Signing the agreement would have allowed local cultural institutions to compete for European grants and forge ties with foreign artists and cultural institutions – vital oxygen for Israel’s culture industry, particularly after the coronavirus crisis.

There’s a........

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