Mamlakhtiyut in Israel's Cultural Policy

Policy Paper 146

The policy study presented here examines the various justifications
for the state’s involvement in cultural matters and sketches out the
principles that guide this involvement in light of those justifications.

In Israel, the relationship between the state and the domain of culture
and the arts has been badly shaken in recent years: the validity of the
fundamental axioms and principles that shaped this relationship for
decades has been called into question, while alternative approaches
and principles are advanced in their stead. The public discussion of the
topic raises various issues associated with Israeli governments' cultural
policy. Its focus, however, is on state funding as a key element of the
authorities’ involvement in the cultural domain, exemplified chiefly
in the relationship between the state, as the financial prop of cultural
institutions and artistic activity, and freedom of expression in culture
and the arts, and the tension between the two. Mamlakhtiyut is often
understood to refer to the view that the actions of state institutions and
agencies and implementation and fulfillment of their obligations to the
public should be in accordance with the fundamental principles of Israel
as a Jewish and democratic state and not be conducted on the basis
of partisan interests or ideology. How that should be understood with
regard to culture policy is a central concern of the present study.

Edna Harel-Fisher is head of the Public Corruption Program and a Research Fellow in the Religion and State Program. Harel-Fisher served for 25 years in various positions in the civil service, mainly in the Ministry of Justice. In her last position, she served as the head of the legal and legislative department at the Ministry of Justice, and was responsible for regulation in a variety of areas of economic activity and for a broad range of issues in the area of government regulation.