Recent cases in which famous entertainers have been found to be in violation of laws – both legal and moral – do not sit well with the Israeli public, said MK Shuli Muallem (Jewish Home). And while there is little the average citizen can do about these entertainers' private lives, there is one way for the people (or rather, its representatives) to express their disgust – by refusing to hire these entertainers for events that are paid for with public funds.
Muallem brought up the issue in the wake of reports Wednesday about several top Israeli entertainers who are being investigated on a variety of charges. Top singer Eyal Golan is under investigation for having had suspected intimate relations with several minors, while another popular singer, Kobi Peretz, was indicted Wednesday on charges of systematic tax evasion in hiding more than 5 million shekels of income between 2005 and 2009, submitting false income information, as well as making threats against his agent.
Both singers are very popular among large segments of Israelis, and have thriving careers. Because of their popularity, many local communities in Israel hire singers and entertainers like Golan and Peretz to entertain crowds at public events, with the most common day for such high-profile appearances being Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzma'ut). Mayors and local authority heads, anxious to make a good impression on voters and show them a good time (which they hope will be remembered on election day) pull out all the stops, competing with each other to get top performers at their events.
But their services do not come cheap; a half hour performance by the likes of Golan and Peretz can cost a local authority many tens of thousands of shekels, money that the public eventually has to cough up, as the entertainers are paid from a section of the public budget allocated for public events.
Whether or not residents of a town or city are interested in paying for such entertainment at all is one thing, said Muaellem – but using public funds to pay for a show by an entertainer who is under indictment or on trial is something else altogether, she said.
In a letter to Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Muallem said that “we have for months been hearing about various accusations against entertainers, from tax evasion to threats and violence against others, and worse. These incidents are, to say the least, shocking.
“I trust the authorities to deal with them in a legal manner, and of course I subscribe to the principle that an individual is innocent until proven guilty,” she wrote. “With that, I believe it would be proper to order local authorities not to use public funds to pay artists accused of these crimes, until they are cleared of them. It is not proper for public funds to be used in this manner,” she added.