Tamam family protest
Tamam family protest Yossi Tzur

Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sport has cancelled its funding for an anti-Israel theater in the northern coastal city of Haifa, stripping the theater of one million shekels ($283,000) in public funds it was awarded in 2016. The ministry has also rejected a request for funds filed by the theater in 2017.

The Al-Midan theater in Haifa has been criticized in the past for hosting plays glorifying “the Palestinian struggle” against Israel, including a play adapted from the writings of a terrorist murderer responsible for the gruesome killing of IDF soldier Moshe Tamam in August, 1984.

Tamam, 19, was hitchhiking when he was abducted by a terror cell which included Israeli-Arabs. Tamam’s remains were later found after he had been tortured to death and his body severely mutilated.

Al-Midan, which was established in 1994 in cooperation with the Rabin government’s Education Ministry, sparked controversy in 2014 when it began running the play “A Parallel Time”, adapted from the writings of Walid Daka. Daka was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Moshe Tamam.

The ministry cited the theater’s failure to meet its requirements for public funds, with no explicit reference to the theater’s political orientation or its hosting of “A Parallel Time”.

In 2017, Haifa municipal councilman Shai Blumenthal pushed to have the theater stripped of the funding it receives from the City of Haifa.

"Unfortunately, the Haifa Municipality thinks that the theater is entitled to municipal support," he says, noting that for quite a few years the theater received municipality funding until the performance glorifying the late Moshe Tamam's terrorist murderer was exposed.

"We stopped the subsidies, but we were obliged to pay by court order. Every year we try to stop the subsidies. Our argument is that as long as the Culture Ministry, which oversees theater subsidies, doesn't say the theater can be budgeted, the Haifa Municipality shouldn't give it support," he said.