Itzik Rochberger, the mayor of Ramat HaSharon, says he has received supportive reactions from citizens as well as other local authority heads, after he announced that artists who boycott Ariel will not be invited to perform in his town either.
Ramat HaSharon is a relatively affluent northern neighbor of Tel Aviv.
“I read in the newspaper that there is a group of artists, some of whom I’d never even heard of, who decided to boycott Ariel, ” he told Arutz Sheva‘s Hebrew-language newsmagazine. “Then I heard that there was an outcry against the Minister of Culture who announced that she would not fund cultural institutions that would boycott Ariel. I found it outrageous that there are artists here who decided to place Ariel outside the law.”
Rochberger stressed that he is not a Right-leaning person but a person who, in the past, held left-of-center beliefs.
He said he arrived at the decision to fight back when sitting with a group of friends. “I am in favor of freedom of expression,” he explained, “but with all due respect, if they are threatening not to perform there, then they shouldn’t perform in our places either. No one can force me to specifically hire them.”
Rochberger said that in the days after the Mavi Marmara incident, he wanted to encourage the Zionist spirit among local school students by putting an Israeli flag on the shoulder straps of school uniforms. “Don’t ask what a ruckus the leftists here made! They said that it is reminiscent of a fascist regime, that it is like a yellow Star-of-David…”
Rochberger has spoken with several other local authority heads, including the mayors of Yehud, Hod HaSharon, Dimona, Kiryat Ono, Lehavim, Ramat Gan and other places, who he says responded supportively. Even people from Kadima are supportive, he says. “Let’s restore sanity,” he declares.
Rochberger says the people who accuse him of dividing the nation are wrong. “When I see Jews pouncing on Netanyahu in the United States, I do not understand where sanity has gone. They are the ones dividing society.”