On February 6, Israel’s “Law for the Protection of Literature and Authors in Israel” went into effect, having been passed by the Knesset last July 31. The title alone should puzzle and worry freedom-loving people. Other than protect the freedom of expression, how does a government “protect literature” in a society where consumers have no restrictions on what they read? Why do Israeli authors need protection that is specifically different from that of other citizens and professionals? Why does the government of Israel, which ranks among the top 5 countries in the world for titles published per capita, need to “fix” a literary situation that is… pretty good as it is? Does any free society, especially that of the People of the Book, need a law to promote literature and protect authors? Or must we protect ourselves from the “protection” of cultural elites? What problem did this law supposedly correct?
According to the law’s proposal, “… the book market has been dominated by a duopoly of two chains which control approximately 80% of the market, one of which is … controlled by a large publishing house. This causes serious damage to the principle of free competition. The Ministry of Culture believes that … there is no alternative other than to manage the market, even at the cost of intervention in the free market.”