The House of Representatives is on track to cut $43 million from the National Endowment for the Arts’ budget of $167.5 million. That’s a 26 percent cut — the deepest in 16 years.
Our senators should prevent these deep cuts from happening when they take up this legislation at the end of this month.
The arts mean jobs. According to Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit arts industry generates $166.2 billion annually in economic activity, supports 5.7 million full-time equivalent jobs in the arts and related industries, and returns $12.6 billion in federal income taxes. Measured against direct federal cultural spending of about $1.4 billion, that’s a return of nearly nine to one.
Federal funding for the arts leverages private funding. The NEA requires at least a one-to-one match of federal funds from all grant recipients — a match far exceeded by most grantees. On average, each NEA grant leverages at least $7 from other state, local, and private sources.
Private support cannot match the leveraging role of government cultural funding.
(Diane Samuels is a Jewish sculptor whose studio is in the Mexican Wars Streets neighborhood. Among her best-known work is “Luminous Manuscript,” a mosaic depiction of a Talmud page, which contains more than 80,000 pieces of glass, and is on permanent display at the Center for Jewish History in New York.)
The Israeli government should make it clear that, if Egypt abrogates the peace treaty with Israel, as recently threatened by prominent Egyptian figures, Israel will also cancel the treaty, rescind its concessions under it and consider reoccupying the Sinai desert.
Israel relinquished the Sinai, together with its precious oil fields and airbases, and uprooted 5,000 Jews living in Yamit under the terms of the treaty. It is a contractual undertaking by both sides and requires the faithful performance of all treaty obligations. It is unthinkable that Egypt can retain all the concessions made under its terms by Israel, while Israel simply loses all it had been promised by the treaty — peace and recognition.
Egypt cannot renounce the peace treaty without automatically forfeiting whatever it gained by it. Israel should be making this crystal clear to those in authority in Cairo.
If Egypt rescinds the treaty, the United States should also end the $2 billion in aid it gives Egypt under it. By doing so, Israel and the United States may play a valuable, stabilizing and restraining influence on Egypt.
By showing that significant negative consequences could flow from Egypt abrogating the peace treaty, Israel and the United States would reduce the likelihood of Egypt doing so.
Morton A. Klein
(The author is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.)