Hollywood and Israel

August 26, 2011 11:59 am 0 comments

Jon Voight visits Israel terror victims. Photo: Chabad.org.

During a visit to Israel this week, actor Jon Voight was interviewed by national daily Israel Hayom. In the course of the interview Voight commented that “Israel has a lot of support and many friends in Hollywood.” If this is indeed the case, it is clear that few are nearly as vocal as Voight, a gentile, who has emerged as the strongest supporting voice for the Jewish State emanating from Hollywood.

In truth since its founding in 1948, the relationship between America’s royalty in Hollywood and Israel has been temperamental. In its early days, the plucky young State’s compelling narrative of salvation, courage and redemption captured the hearts of the artistic elite. Earlier productions including Exodus, Raid on Entebbe and The House on Garibaldi Street, captured Israel’s struggle to garner international respect and security for its citizens.

In more recent years however the tone in Tinseltown has shifted, reflected in productions such as Munich, and Waltz with Bashir, which although not a Hollywood production, was widely acclaimed in Hollywood circles. The new tone portrays Israel as an established and robust entity, hunting down those that dare cross her, while the very human characters struggle with the ‘unjust’ nature of their assignments.

The storyline in all of these films is essentially the same. In every case Israel comes under attack and is forced to respond, however, in the earlier portrayals those tasked with coming to Israel’s defense are painted as just messengers of righteous retribution. In latter years, their image has shifted to vengeful, unjust and at times heartless killers.

The list of Jewish superstars that are politically active includes Natalie Portman, Sasha Baron Cohen, Jerry Seinfeld, Scarlett Johansson, Barbara Streisand, Sarah Silverman, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Yet, as pointed out by Michelle Oddis writing for Human Events, at a rally following international condemnation of the Flotilla incident last year, “of Twenty-five speakers that stood in support of Israel, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the only “Hollywood type” was Voight.”

At a Los Angeles event aiming to address this subject, organized by the World Alliance for Israel Political Action Committee, producer Marc Platt explained that “Hollywood loves an underdog, always has.” He continued, “because Israel is now in a position of power, power can be abused, and that leads to criticism.”

It may be true that Israel’s status has been shifted, which in and of itself is a travesty, but that perhaps is just another symptom of a greater underlying malady, namely Israel’s failure to harness and convey its own narrative. It seems that the Jewish State has all but relinquished control over the exposition and chronicling of its story.

Hollywood’s attention span is limited; a film never captures a complete picture, when the lone ranger rides off into the sunset, the happy couple embrace or the enemy is vanquished, and the credits begin to roll, what happens  next is rarely explored, the viewers move on. It seems to me as if in the Hollywood mind, Israel’s movie came to an end in the early eighties and now its collective chronicle has become mundane. The latest Palestinian Arab release is more compelling. Who cares if it flies in the face of moral conventions, as the only equation is in its ability to captivate an audience.

Voight, a seasoned Hollywood professional has been principled enough to understand that ‘Israel the movie’ is sequel material. The components that captured hearts and minds across the world just a short while ago are still very much intimate components in the fabric that makes up Israel’s story. Israel is still that plucky, resilient nation of visionaries, once separated and now reunited with their beloved land. Its enemies have assumed new forms but are still bereft of moral compass, crouching in the dark, awaiting the opportunity to pounce for the kill.

As the storms gather, markets tremble, Islamists seize control in vacuums left in the wake of the Arab spring and the menace of Iran looms on the horizon, the script for ‘Israel Part 2’ has yet to be written.

The Author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Sports Gold on the Galilee: Israeli Kayaker Comes of Age, Eyes Olympics (VIDEO)

    Gold on the Galilee: Israeli Kayaker Comes of Age, Eyes Olympics (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Three years ago, kayaking coach Roei Lev found aspiring Olympian Ilya Podpolnyy crying on the steps of the Jordan Valley Sprint Kayak Club overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Podpolnyy, then 17 years old, had just been disqualified from the Israeli kayaking championship. He couldn’t survive the heats. He didn’t make the start line. He was devastated—and he had no one with whom to share his hopes, his dreams, and his disappointment. His divorced parents still live in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.