Im Tirzu's cultural war

The fight for our country isn't only against enemies from without.

Tzvi Fishman

OpEds Tzvi Fishman
Tzvi Fishman
INN: TF

It seems that we are witnessing a cultural war – or at least a skirmish. First, Israel’s Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, gets the Left angry by proposing a law demanding that Israeli artists and cultural institutions show loyalty to the State in order to receive government funding. Then the grass roots organization, Im Tirzu, gets politicians on both the Left and the Right angry by exposing a group of leftist Israeli writers and artists who sit on the boards of extreme leftist organizations, which constantly undermine government policies and receive money from anti-Israel organizations abroad. Then, for some reason, which I don’t understand, Im Tirzu apologizes.

But - at least people on the Right are beginning to understand that the fight for our country isn’t only against enemies from without, but also against the “art establishment” in Israel which has been waging a cultural war against Zionism, the settlement of Judea and Samaria, the political right, religious Jews and the Torah, for the last 60 years. All of this has been made possible by the backing of the leftist media which treats leftist artists and writers like idols, and through the funding of the Israeli government itself which has delivered hundreds of millions of shekels to leftist art institutions, artists, filmmakers, and writers to disseminate their propaganda, even when rightist government were in power.

Here’s an example of how successful this cultural campaign of the Left has been. In response to Im Tirzu’s exposure of Israeli artists and writers who sit on the boards of leftist Israeli organizations which are funded by anti-Israel organizations overseas, the New York Times wrote:

“The latest (in the cultural war in Israel) was an attack by a far-right group on beloved leftist literary icons including Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, and David Grossman, writers who have been considered the voice — and conscience — of the state for years.” 

“Beloved literary icons?” “Writers who have been considered the voice and conscience of the state for years?” Loved by whom? Considered the voice and conscience by whom? Not by me. They aren’t my voice or conscience. They aren’t the voice or conscience of the vast majority of Israelis either. They are the literary spokesmen for the Left, always speaking and writing against the settlement movement, the settlers, and the “illegal and immoral occupation.”

Here are a few pearls of culture regarding the Jews in Judea and Samaria from the “beloved” Amos Oz:

“It is impossible to stop fascism with rational argument. This must be stopped with force and by willing to take the chance of fighting a civil war. At the needed hour, we will have to stand up against the settlers of Ofra and Elon Moreh with force. Only he who is ready to run over Ofra with tanks will be able to halt this fascistic wave, which threatens to drown Israel’s democracy.”

Here is another one of his literary gems:

“The settlers are a cruel and close-minded Messianic cult, a band of armed gangsters, criminals against humanity, sadists, murderers and pogrom mongers… who have emerged from the dark corners of Judaism… in order to spread forth a deranged and bloodthirsty creed.”

If this vilification of the settlers by this icon of leftist culture isn’t incitement – what is? A few years ago, newspapers publicized the fact that Amos Oz sent one of his personally autographed books, translated into Arabic, to the imprisoned arch murderer and arch terrorist, Marwan Barghouti, with the wish that he be released soon from prison.


There are indeed writers and artists in Israel with rightest and Zionist views, but hardly anybody knows about them.
Marwan Bargouti, and liberal Jews abroad, and gentiles who hate the State of Israel may read his their books. And, of course, the anti-Israel New York Times gives his Tales of Despair and Darkness rave reviews. The leftist media, in Israel and throughout the world, with the funding of the Israeli government itself, has made these voices of weakness, Jewish self-hatred, and doom, the supposed voice and conscience of Israel. 

Surprisingly, they are not such great writers. They may know how to string words together, but serious literature is much more than that. Their novels are filled with Jewish self-hatred, emptiness, and despair. Their characters are ashamed to be Jews. Their novels and movies have no G-d, or a G-d of cruelness, or a G-d to be ridiculed. For them, man is the King. For me, and many other writers like me, the Creator of the World is the King. Who then are the more important Israeli novelists and filmmakers – the icons of the Left, or writers and filmmakers who bolster the spirit of Israel and sing the praises of G-d?

There are indeed writers and artists in Israel with rightest and Zionist views, but hardly anybody knows about them. The main publishers won’t publish their books if they show settlers in a positive light. The government movie funds won’t fund their screenplays. If they publish a book, only a small readership buys it. Most Likudniks themselves, and those considered to be dati-lite, prefer the suspense novels and movies that come from America, and the “hardalnikim” (the fervently religious of the dati-leumi community) don’t care about novels or movies at all. Why bother to write a book or make a movie that no one wants to see? We ourselves don’t value our writers and artists.

To a very sad extent, many of the editors of our newspapers, and political leaders from the Right, and the literature teachers in our ulpanot, also believe that Israel’s top writers are the icons of the Left. They too have been brainwashed into thinking that despair and darkness is true literature, and that art is founded on cynicism, criticism, and tearing down everything holy. And if there is a little exciting romance thrown in, then it’s literature and art at its greatest.

We only have ourselves to blame. The right has never bothered to champion its writers and artists. Hopefully, people are beginning to wake up and change is on the way.



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