September 25, 2011

The Story behind the film that "saved Israel's reputation"

As PACBI and many others have been claiming, based on quite explicit and publicly available information, Israeli state institutions fund and use art in order to whitewash Israel's image and deflect attention from its vicious apartheid and daily murder. This effort is called "Brand Israel." According to Haaretz, the Oscar winning film "Strangers No More," masquerading under progressive politics of inclusion and attention to the plight of non-Jewish refugees inside Israel, was conceived as a propaganda project that associates Israel with all the humane values that Israel tramples upon every day.

The Oscar-winning film Stranger No More, according to Keren Tal [Rogozin school manager] was produced in order improve Israel's shaky image after operation 'Cast Lead'. The idea for the project was advanced among others by the Tel Aviv Development Fund. "After a consultation with Tel Aviv's Mayor Ron Huldai, the Foundation invited Lin Arison (second wife of billionaire Ted Arison, founder of the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts) to examine how to promote Israel's image," says Tal. "I was informed that she will attend school and that she had half an hour for the purpose." The visit ended Arison's words: "We will be in touch."

A month and half later Tal received an email from Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon, the directors of the film, informing her that they wanted to visit the school. They remained there for about a year and a half, shooting the film a week at a time.

What did you think of the film?

"It brings an intense emotional story because it zooms in on something human and touching. The film was one of the factors that halted the deportation of the children. The producers say that it was screened in about a hundred festivals".

So did the film achieve its aim, improving Israel's image?

"I am at peace with that even though it is contrary to my political views. I want to see Israel undergoing a change. The film did well for children who live with a feeling of social exclusion. Ours is a society surrounded by racism, and children suffer from it as they walk down the street. I feel proud when I see the faces of the children and the staff in the film.

“People were paying attention to the Oscar while and I went back to dealing with the daily grind, especially since this was when Eli Yishai came with the deportation announcement. The movie did not not bring me to where I am today. My work brought me. The everyday puts one in touch with so many wrongs and difficulties, that the ratings and the publicity are not important to me”.

Dr Maggie Navon, North America Vice President for Tel Aviv Development Foundation, gave a slightly different account this week of the birth of film. Three years ago, the Foundation decided to raise funds in the United States on the occasion Tel Aviv’s centenary. Among others, they contacted Lin Arison. When Arison came to Israel she went off to explore cultural hubs such as the Suzanne Dellal Centre, It was then that Huldai and the Fund suggested that swing over to the Bialik – Rogozin school. What should have been a fifteen-minute visit lasted an hour, and Arison was captivated by the children’s and Tal’s charm.

"The directors contacted Tal two weeks later. Arison paid for the production out of her money and the US HBO channel only acquired the movie during the final production phase. It was ready for release just when Israeli Apartheid Week was taking place in the United States. During this week the state of Israel was the object of grave accusations and it was described as an apartheid state, and the film saved its reputation. If it were only possible to duplicate Karen Tal, who is a model of ultimate leadership, the state's situation would be infinitely better.”

From Haaretz, translated from Hebrew by Sol Salbe, with my humble improvements.

So what do you say about Cultural boycott?

Well, the translator of this text, Sol Salbe, doesn't like it. He is also peeved at Boycott from Within,
I also wanted to make the point that the self-proclaimed BDS from Within is a phony. It is strange that not a single one of their "hundreds of supporters" has read this Haaretz article. It really helps their case but evidently none of them is sufficiently integrated to Israeli society to read the culture pages, at least not in Hebrew.
Got to love it when liberal Zionists, especially those who got a good Israeli education, reveal their deep far right-wing racist xenophobic worldview, which in Israel is simply mainstream, and even called "left". You get it? If you live under the Israeli apartheid regime, but you get your news from an Yiddish or Arab or Russian or English source, and don't read the "cultural pages of Haaretz" (which means that most likely you are not a white, European, upper middle class, over-educated and under-politicized Ashkenazi snob), then you don't have the right to describe your political view as "from within." You are a foreigner. Not "well integrated," and Eli Yshai probably got your number.

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