Israel’s public diplomacy would be greatly served by the production of historical movies.

By Ted Belman

PM Netanyahu recently said:

We are in the midst of a great struggle being waged against the State of Israel, an international campaign to blacken its name. It is not connected to our actions; it is connected to our very existence,”  

He is referring, of course, to the propaganda war being waged against the existence of the State of Israel by the Palestinian Authority. It seeks to supplant the historical Jewish narrative with the fictitious Palestinian narrative. And it has succeeded to a significant extent.

With this in mind, the Netanyahus tried (in vain) 9 years ago, to push moguls to fund Israeli version of Fox News. The three moguls were Arnon Milchan, James Packer and Rupert Murdoch each of whom were asked to invest $25 million. The Netanyahus failed, and for their efforts, are now the subject of yet another police investigation.

Would that they had succeeded.

Prior to their attempts, Tzafrir Ronen z’l, Mike Wise, Eli Hertz, and I, also tried to launch an English Fox News type channel that would broadcast throughout the world from Israel. We were concerned with the propaganda war being waged against Israel and wanted to counter it with “fair and balanced” reporting. Like the Netanyahus, we also didn’t succeed.

Martin Sherman, the foremost right-wing thinker in Israel, wrote in a 2012 article Comprehending the Incomprehensible”,

“One of the gravest strategic threats facing Israel is its accelerating international delegitimization. This is developing into a strategic constraint that is increasingly curtailing the nation’s ability to protect itself and its citizens. Even more troubling, it is undermining international recognition of Israel’s right to exercise self-defense, even in the most blatant cases of aggression against it.”

Recognizing the problem, he has long advocated for Israel to allocate 1% of its annual budget to public diplomacy. This would amount to $1 billion annually. That gives you an idea of the importance Sherman places on this fight. So far Israel has decided it has other priorities, like defense for instance, and spends an insignificant fraction of what Sherman advocates for, on public diplomacy.

The problem continues unabated.

Recently I was approached by Joseph Shellim, a writer with 25 years’ experience in the movie industry, with the suggestion that we partner to set up a movie studio in Israel to produce a series of historical movies centered on Israel or Jews that he has been getting ready for production.

He argues that “Israel and Jews, whatever else, constitute one of the biggest ‘news’ items in the world; and either Israel utilizes this fact for her benefit, or it will be exploited by anti-Israel sources to cause untold damage”. Exactly.

As we know, Hollywood, which was largely created by Jews, has enormous influence around the world in fashioning and molding culture and values. Unfortunately, as I see it, it is now committed to promoting a progressive culture.

Couldn’t Jews, or anyone for that matter, create a new “Hollywood” in Israel devoted to a right- wing culture, one that reflects reality, Zionism and Trumpism.

Specifically, he wants the first movie, Holy War, to be about the Roman war against the Jews extending from Caligula (37 AD) to Hadrian (137 A.D.). This 100-year period includes the destruction of the Temple and the Temple Mount, the first Holocaust in which the Romans slaughtered 2.5 million Jews [75 M in today’s terms], the life of Josephus who went from being a Jewish soldier fighting the Romans to being a Roman citizen, tasked with recording the war, the siege of Masada and the short reign of Bar Kochba. It ends with Hadrian’s terrible burning alive of the priests and Torah scrolls in the name-changing scene of the land from Judea to Philistina.

He describes it thus:

“Holy-War” is based on its historical veracity, when the Jews confronted history’s greatest super power, all seen via a ‘forbidden love’ between a Roman soldier and a Hebrew maiden. Here is a historical Wonder Woman, a latter-day Ben Hur type movie, starring a prominent actor like Gal Gadot or Mila Kunis.”

Such a movie would have a bigger influence on the world’s perceptions than an Israeli “Fox News” would ever have had and would cost nothing as it will be a huge money maker due to its mass appeal throughout the world.

You can imagine the impact it would have on reestablishing the Jewish narrative, as the historical one. All one needs to do is recall the huge impact on the world’s perceptions of the Jews and Israel that the movie “Exodus” had.

You may recall that the Palestine Mandate included this recital,

“Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

People have forgotten that recognition. Jews have the right to “reconstitute” in modern Israel, what was in Judea, Thus, Jews are not “colonizers” or “interlopers” or strangers as our detractors would have you believe.  They are indigenous to the land. They have come home.

Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the US, when addressing U.S. Senators this week, said about the Palestinian rejection of  Pres. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,

“Because to admit this connection is to admit that the Jewish people aren’t foreign colonialists in the Land of Israel; that Israel for the Jewish people is not India for the British, or Algeria for the French or the Congo for the Belgians – but that this is the land of our ancestors.” and “the Jewish people are in Israel “not merely by might, but by right.”

Good for Trump and for Dermer.

Daniel Pipes recently created a Victory Caucus in Congress and in Knesset to support the need for victory, rather than resorting to ceasefires, and said “Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair when that side has…accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted its will to fight.”

The Romans thought that they had exhausted “its (the Jews) will to fight”. Not only did they destroy the Temple and the Temple Mount, kill 2.5 million Jews and enslave many Jews to Rome, but they also changed the name of the land from Judea to Philistina for good measure.

Nevertheless, the Jews chose suicide over surrender throughout, from the Temple War to Masada, and in exile, chose hope over despair, embodied in their prayer “Next year in Jerusalem” and their promise, “If I forget thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand whither, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth”. Their will to fight lay dormant until such time as Theodore Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, galvanized them into action.  Today the Roman Empire is no more and Judea, reconstituted as Israel, is stronger than ever. Let no one doubt their will to fight.

The Holy War was an attempt by Rome to impose polytheism on the Jews in denial of their monotheism. Polytheism is no more and monotheism is embraced by Judaism and by its descendants, Christianity and Islam.  Surely it will be of interest to billions of people.

We intend to set up a movie studio in Israel to produce the movie and two sequels, firstly, about the Exile and secondly, the Return.

At the same time, it could produce a movie for a new generation that accurately portrays the origins of the “Palestinians” including the true story of the Grand Mufti Al Husseini, the attempt to destroy Israel immediately after its birth, the birth of the PLO under the tutelage of Russia and their construction of the Palestinian narrative out of thin air. Their ruthlessness in killing innocents in airports around the world and in killing Jews in the various intifadas.

The thrust of such a movie will focus on their debates on the path to follow so that the public learns of their duplicity, true motivation and goals.

If anyone doubts the power of this medium, look no further that Obama’s venture into Netflix.

Breitbart reports:

“Former President Barack Obama is negotiating a deal to produce a series of original shows for global streaming giant Netflix, according to a New York Times report.

“Netflix would pay Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, for exclusive content that would be available only on the streaming service, which has nearly 118 million subscribers around the world.” the outlet reported.

Such movies would do more for Israel’s public diplomacy than Sherman’s billion-dollar budget could have had and more than an English Fox News type channel broadcasting from Israel would have.

They would also add to Israel’s coffers rather than depleting them.


March 27, 2018 | 71 Comments »

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21 Comments / 71 Comments

  1. Sebastien

    This is a question by way of discussing this

    Where would you place the Holocaust in this and is there a danger that academics would take it over?

  2. @ Edgar G.:

    Sebastien….I just recalled, that the Arabs always use their left hands, -but for a specific purpose. Perhaps you should write in to an Arab site with your question. Maybe you’ll get an answer, (but I’d advise you to block any means of allowing your identity to be followed up on.)

    Instead of driving me mashugga drive them….

  3. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    Yes you asked him, you silly kipper, a question that a neurologist would be required to answer. But, you didn’t ask him on THIS thread. It must have been on a different page. There are 67 comments here, this is the 68th. and nowhere is there any question about Melechet (which incidentally has nothing to do with Melech) to ANYONE. I recall the question and it was I who gave you an answer because nobody else bothered. You spelled it Melekhet, if I recall, and under that spelling there was ample explanation on google, which I pointed out, but which you couldn’t find.

    Until now, this is a free-comment site, no permission needed to answer. I saw that you showed pique at not getting an answer, so, because I have kindly feelings towards you, I sent in an answer, even though it was not satisfactory…but you were not ignored.

    You may or not recall that this all began over Ted’s idea of using the screen to portray Jewish heroic history…I think. . Someone mentioned Hannah Senesh, perhaps you, and I countered with to me, a far greater heroine of the Jewish People, Dona Gracia Mendez….at least in a lifetime of great achievements. Of whom you’d never heard. You looked her up, but didn’t give her the full credit she amply deserved.

    You must realise that Hannah Senesh was a young girl, with very little opportunity to show her greatness, mainly perhaps because she was captured, tortured and killed almost as soon as she landed in Occupied Europe. Poor girl, poor girl. I read some of her poetry when I was young.

    Never mind, it has all long blown over. Castigate me if you will, but I don’t know what for. Enjoy yourself anyway, Pesach is coming in a few days, so Chag Sameach, and Next Year In Jerusalem

  4. Edgar G. Said:

    Again I’ll say…I DON’T KNOW…..

    Why answer if you don’t know? I asked Ted, you may recall. Somebody, it may have been you, called him on his typo, putting in left instead of right initially, and it occurred to me there might be a good reason for it, if unconscious. That’s why I asked him. Similarly, I asked David Melech about the title of my great-grandfather’s book because the first word is Melechet, and again you were the only one to respond, even though you didn’t have a clue. Annoying.

  5. @ Edgar G.:

    Counting to the fourth post above, not including this, I ANSWERED YOU ALREADY.

    Again I’ll say…I DON’T KNOW…..

    When you are spilling the wine at Pesach to memorialize the 10 Plagues make sure you don’t spill an “accidental” extra one, because sub-consciously you may mean it for ME…

  6. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    Maybe that prayer chooses right hand, because the vast majority of people seem to gravitate, action-wise to using the right hand…Or maybe it’s just that the tephillin go on the left arm and hand so is regarded as being more “holy” and closer to the heart etc. Who knows. I don’t and there’s no point in picking a fight with me to show your earnestness.

    Or, since we are being “Biblical” perhaps you are projecting your own feelings/ideas/attitudes onto me……as per the Proverb “The wicked flee where no man pursueth”.. not that I’m calling you wicked, I AM NOT, just get that clear, I’m merely using a phrase that seems to me to be apt in the circumstances where you are accusing me of being evasive.

    “Cute” I don’t mind, in it’s original 1920s meaning, I was a very cute baby I was told. ….”dense”….. well now that deserves some thought……I suppose I can see through a brick wall as well as the next person….. and this particular wall is dense in the physical sense, being at least a foot thick. I don’t see the connection with me though.

    You wouldn’t be trying to insult me would you, Sebastien my old pal….old pal….. (and I’m not using “pal” as being part of “palestinian” so don’t have faribble with me. Just calm down.

  7. @ Edgar G.:
    Then, are you being cute and evasive or just dense? It’s a logical question, one of the most important and oldest prayers is: “Oh, Jerusalem, if I forget thee, may my right* {obviously meaning dominant, since the right hand would be less important to a left-handed person} hand fail me.”

    So, if you say that prayer, do you think to yourself, “left” while saying right, or if nobody else is around or you are saying it silently do you re-word it to say, “left?”

    aaargh! I suppose I should just google it. People have taken the trouble to construct web pages on how long to boil a hard-boiled egg, somebody probably has one about this.

    nope. square one. and I’m not even left-handed!

  8. @ Edgar G.:

    I should have added-and I do now- that I only REQUIRE privacy when using the toilet, and when sleeping. I PREFER privacy most times because I’ve lived alone for many years, and have a great liking for reading, which I do probably at least 12-14 hours every day. Even growing up, I was always a “night-bird” and often read a book finishing m\ybe at 2-3 a.m and then just began another. That’s how I began to colect books.

    These days I read a selection from many thousands on the internet sites, I’m sure you know them all. I even read books from authors I recall when growing up, just to see if my tastes have changed. In some cases they have. I used to like P.G. Wodehouse, now I can’t bear to glance through his nonsense, and his impossibly stupid characters. I used to collect Jeffery Farnol books, but now I’d think twice. But I’d always buy an Edgar Wallace or Thackeray, or Maria Edgeworth, Or Charles Lever. Figuratively spraking that is, because I can find them all in Gutenberg Project on the internet. But…old habits die hard. Just yesterday, passing a rach of second-hand books, I spotted an F.F. Bruce volume. He was a Christian believer, who was also a Biblical scholar and I bought a couple of his books in my early days, after the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

    I’ll stop here, and hope that above..somewhere, you can find my answer you were so upset at not getting.

  9. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    My answer is that I don’t know, and have never had anyone ever before, ask me about it. I don’t have a switch which I can turn on when I’m doing something LHanded, and reverse when using a knife and fork.

    A neurologist may have come across the answer in his studies, or an investigative scientist, but not a normal person like me… DO you HEAR…. I said NORMAL.

    So I’ve answered. And don’ say I din’t do nuttin’ for ya.

  10. @ Edgar G.:

    Another forgotten Jewish Heroine is Sarah Aaronsohn,captured, and brutally tortured by the Turks, (and eventually committed suicide, but lingered on for nearly a week before dying.) who with her famous brother Aaron Aaronsohn, formed the N.I.L.I. spy ring during WW1, who were instrumental in discovering and conveying loads of important information to General Allenby’s Army. The Info came to Meinertzhagen, who was the Chief Intelligence officer for Allenby.

    Meinerzhagen, in his Diaries, said that Aaron Aronsohn was the finest man he had ever met in his lifetime.

    Sebastien, since we are discussing Forgotten Jewish Heroines, (of whom there must have been thousands we never knew about) you should read up on her on the internet. I’m sure she’s there. She was 27.

    What about that nurse, who used to attend in the Ghetto every day, and coming out, would carry a baby or two in the false bottom of her medical bag. She saved about 2500 that way. Fantastic. She was a Catholic not a Jew, and was in her early 30s

  11. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    I have NO IDEA why you are accusing me of being insensitive. ….Are you going off your rocker…? I’m using your American lingo so that you understand me better, I prefer the word “mashugga”.

  12. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    For many years before this, Mendes had established an escape route from the Spanish Peninsula to Rome then to Constantinople and further on. Likely the very first “underground railway”, hundreds and probably thousands were saved this way. She also arranged for them to be shipped to the Americas in her ships as crew, who stayed over there and founded Jewish Communities all over South America, where they remember her to this day as their saviour. I mentioned this earlier.

    I saw on Wiki and likely read it in her bio (forgot) that when the Pope condemned 14 conversos to be executed in Rome, she arranged a complete embargo of Rome so that they got no ship freight nor what they especially wanted and what she majorly dealt in..spices. One of Israel’s REAL Wonder-Women.

    Hannah Senesh was also a Jewish Heroine, who was trained to infiltrate into occupied Hungary by parachute to help Jews, Unfortunately she was captured on landing and was executed. So she never had the chance to do anything worthy except sacrifice her life. Poor, poor girl, she was only 23. I think I have her story tucked away somewhere too.

  13. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    “In the 1560s, Gracia Nasi together with her nephew became deeply engaged in a bold and strikingly forward-looking project—an effort to establish a self-sufficient Jewish settlement on the site of the ancient city of Tiberias in the Holy Land, as a refuge for conversos fleeing from Spain and Portugal. In a step that foreshadows later efforts, Joseph Nasi obtained a privilege from the sultan granting him the ruins of Tiberias with seven surrounding villages. Doña Gracia was said to have contributed large sums toward this project, and by 1566, despite local Arab opposition, a thriving settlement existed. It was short-lived, however. A generation later only a handful of families remained.

    She gave help to many conversos and tried but failed to re-establish a community in Israel.

    “Hannah Senesh (originally Szenes) was a paratrooper trained to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. Captured and killed by the Nazi’s, she is still a national heroine in Israel.

    [Senesh dressing up in costume as a Hungarian soldier’]
    Through her brief but noteworthy life, Senesh became a symbol of idealism and self-sacrifice. Her poems, made famous in part because of her unfortunate death, reveal a woman imbued with hope, even in the face of adverse circumstances.”

    They both deserve to be honored and remembered. And both are relevant to this project since they lived in Israel and fought for the national rebirth. Don’t downgrade Senesh though.

    But it’s good that Mendes was in the 16th Century

  14. Edgar G. Said:

    forward a forgotten heroine of the Jewish People, far far more than Hannah Senesh

    Hardly. And I thought you said the Shoah touched your life. How can you be so insensitive especially in light of what is going on in the former Pale of Settlement: Ukraine, Baltic States and Poland. LIthuania is prosecuting 90 year old Jewish partisans!

  15. Hugo Schmidt Fischer writes

    A never ending stream of funding is available for films featuring:

    Holocaust survivors that claim Gaza is a concentration camp worse than Auschwitz.
    American Jews bemoaning the so-called occupation
    Israeli liberals abhorring the treatment of refugees in South Tel-Aviv
    Ex-soldiers together with former secret service operatives and Mossad generals pontificating on the horrors of the security establishment
    Pork eating Jews invoking an undefined concept called ‘Tikun Olam’ meeting up with Palis in weekend accept-the-‘Other’ workshops including olive harvesting in a rural area in the vicinity of evil Israeli settlers where in the end the Israelis always break down in tears and ask the Arabs for forgiveness

    These films will be screened in notable movie festivals, receive prestigious awards, they will be pre-announced and aired in mainstream media TV programs with large audiences, and their artists will be invited to lecture at international conferences.

    In a next step, their producers, writers, actors will be invited to show the movie at Jewish communities across the world, followed by a lively discussion of audience and creative artists after the screening, all paid for by the New Israel Fund, which will also conduct a fund raising at the end of the event.

    The ex-generals will improve their pensions and hopefully use the occasion to make some new business connections, some of the artists may in this way break into the main market beyond the Israel bashing Spiel, and others will find the love of their life, hang on in the Diaspora and finally escape the Israeli desert climate.

    If they are willing to spit on your own people, there is business to made.

  16. @ Edgar G.:
    It doesn’t. It’s profound and stimulates Jewish pride. And, it dispels stereotypes, at times playing with them. Unlike, say, Adam Sandler’s Hanukka song, which does make Jews into clowns, much as Obama did in his infamous Hanukka address. Look at this terrific clip. Though it has nothing to do with Israel. But, it is a wonderful Jewish Western. And it’s clever and funny. They don’t make movies like that anymore.

    The Frisco Kid- God and Torah

  17. @ Edgar G.:
    I missed that. Yes, that would be good, but she lived a long life and did many things so the film would have to emphasize what she did in Israel.

    You notice, I said Israel, not Palestine or Syria or whatever it was called by the nations at the time. What’s good for the geese is good for the gander. We are saying that, substantively, it never stopped being Israel. Abbas is saying it was always some fictitious nation of Palestine. Let’s just start calling it Israel in every century. Occupied Israel.