Miri Regev
Miri RegevTomer Neuberg/Flash 90

Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) on Thursday got up and left the hall during the Ophir Awards awarded by the Israeli Academy of Film and Television, in protest against the performance of a song by Arab ultranationalist poet Mahmoud Darwish.

Darwish was a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) executive committee and authored a draft of what was intended to serve as the organization’s declaration of independence.

He was an ardent opponent of Jewish self-determination and is seen as a figurehead for many anti-Zionists.

"I left in the middle of a poem by Mahmoud Darwish at the Ophir Awards," Regev wrote on her Facebook page. ''I have a lot of respect and patience for the other, but I feel no patience for Darwish and for anyone who wants to destroy me or my country.”

Regev returned to the hall after the song ended.

Later, as she delivered remarks towards the end of the ceremony, Regev spoke of her protest and said, "I left and I want to explain to you why. I can agree with the beginning of Darwish's poet 'Write it down, I am an Arab'. There is an Arab identity and I do not want to eliminate it. But at the end of the song he eats all of our flesh. Of the Jewish people. This is what I do not agree with.

“This is exactly what the Prime Minister fought for today on the stage of the United Nations,” continued Regev, referring to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech at the UN General Assembly. “It is a lie and will remain a lie even if a talented poet writes it. No one should agree to this and we need not be tolerant of that. As a former rear admiral in the IDF I can also reassure you - it will not happen.”

MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) blasted Regev's act of protest and said, "Regev lives in a fantasy that everything revolves around her. The Ophir Awards ceremony is an important evening for Israeli cinema, for Israeli artists and is not intended for the whims of the Minister of Culture, who didn't even know who Darwish was until Netanyahu signaled to her that he is the new enemy of the nation.

"Regev's embarrassing performance was staged from start to finish in order to create more headlines. Israeli Culture is not Miri Regev's private show,” charged Hasson.

Regev recently criticizedArmy Radio after the station decided to dedicate a program to Darwish, saying, “A public radio station in the Defense Ministry cannot permit itself to strengthen or glorify the anti-Israel narrative within the framework of a radio program intended to focus on ‘foundational texts of Israel’.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman subsequently reprimandedArmy Radio commander Yaron Dekel over the airing of the program.

Liberman noted to Dekel that Darwish's work includes calls for the demise of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, as well as violent passages such as "the flesh of the occupier will be my food". Such things cannot be a part of the Israeli narrative, as the channel had attempted to frame Darwish, Liberman insisted.