(JTA) – Israel’s Knesset passed on its first vote a cultural loyalty bill, which would allow funds to be withheld from cultural organizations that are deemed disloyal to the State of Israel.
The bill proposed by Culture Minister Miri Regev passed its first reading by a vote of 55 to 44. It must pass two more readings to become a law.
Among the infractions which would allow the withholding of budget funding from cultural institutions is denying that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, incitement to racism or violence, support for terror against Israel; marking Israel’s Independence Day as the Nakba – a day of mourning in the Arab world, and desecrating the Israeli flag or other state symbols.
Under the legislation the culture minister, and not the Ministry of Finance, would have the final say in withholding the funds.
A current law on the books, the so-called Nakba Law, allows the government to withhold funding from organizations or events that call Israel’s establishment and mark Independence Day as a Nakba, or “catastrophe.”