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Israel: “Censorship minister” wants filmmakers to exercise self-censorship

4 March 2013

On 26 February 2013, the Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat called on Israeli filmmakers to exercise “self-censorship” and refrain from producing movies that cast aspersions on Israel and “libel it throughout the world.”

Limor Livnat

In response, this brought out an editorial in Haaretz, a leading Israeli newspaper, which labeled Limor Livnat as “The censorship minister” and defended the artists’ right to freedom of expression.

Recently two documentary features, ‘The Gatekeepers’ ‏(directed by Dror Moreh‏) and ‘5 Broken Cameras’ ‏(by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi‏), received nominations to the American Oscar award. Limor Livnat had stated that she “wasn’t sorry that neither of them brought home the prize.”

“They didn’t distort reality, as Livnat claims, they reflected it — even if the minister didn’t find this reality pleasing,” wrote Haaretz.

“Six former Shin Bet security service chiefs and a Palestinian from Bil’in in the West Bank exposed a reality that Livnat would rather conceal. Livnat wants propaganda movies, Livnat wants self-censorship — something much more dangerous than government censorship. She utters lofty statements about Israel’s “strong, robust” democracy while undermining it with her own words.

If the artists heed the minister in charge of culture, there will be no real art created here and Israel would be even more ostracized. Documentary filmmaking, one of Israel’s most impressive art forms, is worthy of public and ministerial praise.

The minister’s job is to preserve and protect the absolute freedom of art, not lecture artists to censor their work. The fact that art is financed by public and government funds is a badge of honor — on condition they don’t censor its content, as Livnat would have them do.

A complex, conflicted reality calls for critical, not mobilized, art. True, in some countries this is not the case. Israel must not become one of them.”
Haaretz – 1 March 2013:
The censorship minister
“A complex, conflicted reality calls for critical, not mobilized, art. True, in some countries this is not the case. Israel must not become one of them.”
Haaretz Editorial

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