Israel, film, and public diplomacy

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.”

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.

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 commercially viable 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, 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, Shellim wants the first movie, Holy War, to be about the Roman war against the Jews extending from Caligula (37 A.D.) 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, 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.

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 substantiating the Jewish narrative. 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 U.S., 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 the 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 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 left hand wither, 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.

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.

Ted Belman is the publisher of and may be reached at

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