Thursday, November 18, 2021

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory.

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HabimaJerusalem, November 18 - Officials and clerks at Israel's chief government body for support of the arts voiced confusion today upon receipt of an application to fund a production of a show at the country's most venerable and prestigious theatrical venue - but one that, unlike every other production in that establishment, does not question, challenge, undermine, or ridicule Judaism or the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty in the Jewish homeland.

Functionaries at multiple levels of the Ministry of Culture and Sport acknowledged Thursday they continue not to grasp the bizarre application for a grant to help the Habima Theater Company produce Idit Avrahami's play Sultan's Breakfast, a drama the takes place primarily in a kindergarten, and that explores gender roles, child-adult dynamics, the border between a child's perception and reality, and other themes, with a thick layer of warm humor pervading the script. A spokesman for the ministry told reporters they still did not know what to make of the prospect of funding an artistic event without anti-Zionist or anti-religious connotations, explicit or implicit.

"We're still trying to figure this thing out," admitted Theater Division chief Meza Nin. "When the application first came in, we thought something was missing. One of our mid-level officials recognized the play - I think her cousin helped edit it or something - and she stood there for what must have been a full minute, dumbfounded. Something just didn't add up. When she finally recovered the ability to speak, she said, 'I don't think we've ever done this before.'"

"That's not strictly true," remarked Assistant to the Deputy Minister Masha Bim. "Early on, the ministry wouldn't go near anything with even a whiff of anti-Zionism. Anti-Judaism was OK, as long as it was directed at Haredim or unspecified 'extremists.' But that went out the window in the 1980's and 90's. A new, progressive generation of officials began to throw their weight around, bringing in sensibilities that didn't grow from a sense of Israel's existential precariousness, and who saw such concerns as primitive and parochial. Fast forward a few years, and no one knows how to make heads or tails of an exhibit, show, or event that accepts Jewish tradition as valid, let alone valuable, or that sees the State of Israel as a net good."

No official decision on the funding application has issued yet; the deadline for such a decision lies two months away. In the meantime, ministry personnel indicated, HaBimah executives will be interrogated as to what the hell they have in mind.

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