Minister Limor Livnat
Minister Limor Livnat Israel news photo: Flash 90

Minister of Culture Limor Livnat blasted the ACUM (Union of Composers, Writers and Publishers in Israeli Music) Monday over its decision to revoke the "Lifetime Achievement Award" for veteran singer Ariel Zilber because of his political views.

While Zilber still received an award for his music, the prestigious award was revoked at the last minute due to a public rejection of an ACUM award over the nomination by leftist singer Achinoam Nini

"What a shame that ACUM decided at the last minute to be cowards," Livnat wrote on her Facebook page. "It's too bad that they were steamrolled by the 'Knights of Free Speech,' of all things." 

Livnat's criticism joins a chorus of attacks on the group for capitulating to public pressure. 

"The capitulation of ACUM and the decision to give Ariel Zilber a prize only on his contribution to Israeli music instead of a lifetime achievement award is a dangerous submission and flattery of the Bolshevism of radical leftists," Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman fired in a Facebook post Monday. "The same people that waged war on all fronts to allow a high school teacher to cast aspersions on the morality of the IDF, in the name of freedom of expression, are now fighting to silence an artist whose musical genius and contribution to Israeli society throughout his life no one questions, and they prevent him from getting the recognition he deserves."

"It is sad to hear that ACUM had declared itself to be a politically-oriented body, going beyond its purview as a musical organization," MK Nissan Slomiansky added. "In the future, when ACUM asks for economic support from the government with the argument that it supports Israeli culture – of which Ariel Zilber is a very important part – we will keep their stance in mind."

ACUM was founded 56 years ago as a non-profit corporation administering the rights assigned to it by its members: authors, composers, lyricists, poets, arrangers and music publishers. 

The group notes that their award ceremony is the only one recognizing Israeli artists. In the last year 530 musicians joined ACUM, an organization that provides grants and funding to various musical projects.