How we beat the anti-democratic “loyalty” law

26/11/2018

“I was ready to give up, but this protest gave me back hope. The demonstration outside the Knesset is a critical lesson – something you can’t learn in university halls. Today we stopped being apathetic – and learned that we are powerful.” This is what Larry Abramson, the renowned Israeli artist, told hundreds of art students and artists during our protest in front of the Knesset.

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In the past few days, over 10,000 Zazim members called on key Knesset Members to vote against the anti-democratic “loyalty in arts” bill, advanced by Culture Minister Miri Regev. The bill would strip funds from any cultural institutions that don’t meet Regev’s far-right “loyalty” test.

On Monday, the day set for the final vote on the bill, we organized a protest outside of the Knesset chamber together with hundreds of artists, art students, dance troops, and others from across the country. Thanks to the incredible public pressure – several coalition MKs announced they would not support the bill, and just hours before the final vote, Regev was forced to pull the bill – and postpone the vote indefinitely. When we heard the news, our protest turned into a huge celebration – our fight for freedom of expression won!

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We know the road is still long – Regev and her coalition allies are already searching for new ways to push the bill through, and she is determined to continue her battle against free speech and academic freedom.

But our winning fight against Regev’s destructive legislation has breathed new life into the struggle for freedom of expression. Now that the governing coalition has shrunk to just a one-seat majority, our public pressure is more impactful than ever – and this win proves we can slow the onslaught of undemocratic legislation. Together, we know we can win.

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