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Theme Changer

 Topic: BBC Documentary: Searching for Exile - Truth or Myth?

 (Read 2343 times)
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  • BBC Documentary: Searching for Exile - Truth or Myth?
     OP - August 15, 2014, 07:35 PM
    Documentary about the Jewish exile. The BBC cancelled its broadcast last year but It was eventually shown.

    As some of you know, my film EXILE, A MYTH UNEARTHED, which examines the myth of the Jewish EXILE and its political impact on both Israeli Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East, was going to be shown on the BBC Thursday April 25th. It was pulled out of the schedule only a few days earlier.

    Since than I was flooded by dozens of emails of angry and concerned viewers asking what happened.   To be honest I debated whether to tell the story of what I think had happened. I have worked with the BBC in the past on some programs that were deemed controversial and I never had any political censorship. On the contrary I was impressed by the integrity and fairness of the people I dealt with.

    So based on my past experience, I was going to wait patiently until the BBC programming executives would solve the internal drama that apparently has begun to brew inside the BBC.  “The film is gorgeous, courageous and fresh, “ I was told several times by the programming executives. I was promised that the cancellation was temporary: “Given the short timescale and your workload, we have decided to delay transmission until we’ve had the chance you’ve had the chance to go through it in detail”.

    I naively believed and decided to wait quietly. But things have their own momentum and as I learned more, I realized that the story of “EXILE” in the BBC is far more complex.

    Among the dozens of emails I received one caught my attention. It included the official email response from the BBC to the inquiry/complaint sent to irate viewers who contacted the BBC asking why the program was pulled out of the schedule. This email contradicted a private email sent to me by the programming executives. I was intrigued.

    I discovered after quick research that while I was contacted by the BBC barely a week before the broadcast asking for my comments about the cut, the BBC have had the film for almost 6 months. So why was this sudden rush which supposedly was the excuse given to me as to why the film was pulled out?  Why was I contacted so late in the game?  And why was there a discrepancy between what was told to me and the “official” version . I started to dig a bit deeper and to put my findings in a blog, rather than answer the dozens of people who wrote to me privately.

    This is not a personal issue.  This is ultimately a sad saga of what I believe is a mixture of incompetence, political naiveté, conscious or subconscious political pressure and ultimately, I believe, a lack of courage of broadcasters when they are faced with the complexity of the Middle East issue and the intense emotions, fears and aggression it generates. Once you indeed depersonalize this incident, you gain a fascinating insight into  how subtle and complex is the process by which our understanding of the  Israeli Palestinian conflict is being shaped and what happens when one dares to raise questions about issues deemed by some as taboos.  It is this insight that I think is worth sharing and detailing.

    The story begins for me with the name. I discovered only 3 days before the broadcast that the BBC has been using a different name for the film: Jerusalem – An Archeological Mystery Story.   It struck me as an odd choice that seems to camouflage the film’s real subject and repackages it as a neutral archeological mystery of sort- like the hundreds of hours one can see on cable and Satellite channels throughout the world.

    “ Exile” of course is not about a mystery, neither it is limited to archeology or to Jerusalem. The name and the illusion that one can pretend that this film is just about archeology and its mysteries are at the core I believe of Thursday’s fiasco.

    Digging deeper I also learned that this title was established back in November 2012 in the agreement between the National Film Board of Canada (one of the  film’s co producers and its int’l distributor) and the BBC.  I was approached  by the distributor to see if I would agree for the BBC  to cut down the program.  I agreed to it on the condition that I would be  consulted  so the integrity of the longer version (104 min) would be preserved.  I also  said that if I was not  to be consulted  my name should be  removed  from the program and the cut down  will be listed as an “adaptation from a film by Ilan Ziv”.  From my access to some internal documents, it is obvious now that the BBC was not genuinely interested in my getting involved.  As the documents suggest, they  already   announced that the cut down version would be an adaptation.

    So back in November 2012, everything seemed to be on track to produce a cut down of the film without having to deal with the director, broadcast the film under a neutral title and hopefully avoid any serious political debate. A perfect solution!  So what went wrong?

    Fast forward to Saturday April 20th 2013 when I received an email from a friend in the UK who saw that “my” film Jerusalem; An Archeological Mystery Story was going to be broadcast on BBC 4. He even read a preview of it in the Guardian. The preview promised that the film “ will ruffle some feathers”.  Two days earlier I did receive from the editor who cut the film a copy of the cut for me to comment on, but there was no mention of an impeding broadcast date!

    On Monday, 3 days before the broadcast, I fired an email to the BBC programming executives complaining that it is unfair to expect me to spend time reviewing the cut and coming up with suggestions of a re cut, when I was given only a few days before a broadcast date that no one bothered to inform me about. I pleaded for more time. It was only when one of the programming executives called me, I realized that there were much bigger issues for her than my complaint about being pushed into an impossible schedule.

    The program executive seemed genuinely shocked that a freelance employee hired by the BBC to take part in the re-versioning process called the film “propaganda”. When I asked if this unnamed person had specific examples to support such a sweeping charge, I was told  that she claimed that , “Everything was propaganda”.  And there was more.

    An “unnamed” BBC insider who I was told “liked the film,” claimed that the film props up the myth of Exile “ which we all know did not happen, in order to support his political analysis”.  I learned that the cut I was given was now irrelevant, since some internal review deemed one scène with the Palestinians to be “too emotive” and they were asked to cut it down.  Realizing that a mini political storm was brewing around the film and attacks lodged against its integrity, I asked and was promised that I would be given at least a summary of the essential charges so I could answer them in length.  I am obviously very familiar with some of them and could easily and in detail refute them.  I told the programming executive that my reply would help them to defend the film in the Channel. After all, they professed to love the film and seemed genuinely interested to show it.  I told them it was very easy for me to prepare a detailed rebuttal with citation of sources for every word of the narration, the overall  analysis and for every scene. I told them that some of the academic participants in the program who  saw the cut and are reputable scholars in their field  did not find any factual errors or misrepresentations of facts or  of the historical narrative. In other words, I argued that such a detailed and substantial defense would convince any objective reader and observer of the editorial integrity of the film. I repeated the request several times yet I never got a reply. Instead, I received an email telling me that they decided to pull it out of the schedule, citing  the “ short  timetable and my work load “( !) A few days later I saw the “official” version that went to the public:

    “We originally acquired ‘Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story’ to supplement BBC Four’s season exploring the history of archaeology. However, we have decided that it doesn’t fit editorially and are no longer planning to show it as part of the season.  Plans to broadcast  the program are currently under review”  So Exile, A myth unearthed  has begun its own exile within the BBC.

    I do believe it is ultimately a sad saga. A saga of well meaning programming executives who acquired  the  “courageous “ film  they claim to love, believing that they can sneak it by with a “neutral title”. When they were “caught”, rather than face the criticism  and be helped by the mountains of documents and data I was ready to send them,  they panicked like deer in the headlights not knowing what to do and eventually raised  their hands in resignation.

    The truth of the matter is that the reaction outside and inside the BBC surprised me too. The film by now has been shown in a Jewish Festival in Toronto, playing in a screening room there for a week. It was shown on Canadian TV with a second broadcast  planned for June.  Another version of the film is scheduled to be shown in France and  the original  version in Switzerland ,with  hopefully screenings in the US later in the year.  The response in all the public screenings, some of which I attended, was overall extremely positive. Nowhere did the film generate such a reaction as  that of the few individuals inside and outside the BBC.

    The temporary success to “exile” the film might prove I believe to be a pyrrhic victory.

    EXILE does not deal with contemporary politics in the Middle East, rather, it proposes to examine their ideological and historical underpinnings.  EXILE has not contributed to the political stalemate in the region nor to the continued bloodshed, occupation and violence. It is a film born out of the continued violence. Rather than propose a simplistic solution or an aspirational political program , it tries to suggest a possible way out by re examining the historical narratives we all grew up on, suggesting that in this tormented land there are historical models of co existence and tolerance that could replace the dominant conventional nationalist ones. Silencing this film is silencing a possibility of discussion, debate and re examination not of the current political stalemate but of the intellectual stalemate that contributes to it.

    I hope that somewhere in the BBC someone will rise above the hysteria and the attempts at self censorship to take a cooler look at the film and realize how it has been profoundly mis-characterized , -viewing it through partisan glasses instead of looking at it for what it is:  a film that can and has already in its  public screenings generated  dialogue and positive, thinking rather than perpetuating divisions  and polarization.

    So for me this is not the end of EXILE in the UK but only the beginning.  I will show the film publically throughout the UK and will challenge the BBC to either broadcast the film or relinquish its rights. I have offered to buy these rights so I could place the film elsewhere in the UK.

    The saga of EXILE will continue. Stay tuned!

  • BBC Documentary: Searching for Exile - Truth or Myth?
     Reply #1 - August 15, 2014, 08:06 PM
    Ilan Ziv’s remarkable film, Exile, a Myth Unearthed is now being screened around the world. You may recall that this was the film the BBC purchased to air and then momentarily abandoned last May.  I personally believe doubts were raised by the UK Community Trust hasbara patrol, though they deftly left no fingerprints.  After Ziv wrote about the controversy on his blog, the BBC asked him to dramatically pare down the length and he cut almost half of the original.  The edited version aired last week.

    I watched both versions and while the shorter one is not significantly impaired, I highly recommend seeing the original if possible, since it allows Ziv to present his full argument. Which is this: at the advent of modern Zionism, and especially after the creation of the State in 1948, the new nation needed a heroic historical narrative. For this, it turned to the last period when Israel was an independent state, just before the first Roman revolt (66-73 CE).

    The two Jewish revolts against Rome in the first and second centuries CE, become the opening salvo in the Zionist ‘revision’ of Jewish history. In the first war, the Jewish historian, Josephus writes about an organized national revolt against Roman authority in which virtually all sectors and regions participated. This allows him to portray himself as a valiant military leader who fought a strong, but ultimately losing battle for Jewish sovereignty.  Josephus’ military command in the Galilee failed.  Most Jews in the north rejected his entreaty to unite against Rome.   Unlike Jerusalem, the Galilee co-existed peaceably with foreign influences like those the Romans represented.

    There was no national revolt.  Instead, it was a rebellion originating in Jerusalem.  A conflict that was designed to protect the economic interests of the priestly élite.  The comfortable, priestly class housed in the Temple in Jerusalem, had an illusion that they represented the heart and soul of the Jewish people. But those outside of Jerusalem saw things quite differently.  The result was that the Galilee determined that it could live peaceably with the Romans, and so was spared destruction, while tens of thousands were killed in Jerusalem.

    Josephus recruited a small band whose loyalty he bought, and retreated to the single town which did revolt against Rome.  It was besieged by 50,000 Roman troops, who ultimately overran it and slew all the inhabitants–except the general. He escaped, was captured by the Romans, and became Vespasian’s (the Roman general) personal slave. In that capacity, after his master brought him to Rome, Josephus wrote his famous account, The Jewish Wars.  In it, he spun a tale of  Jews united, fighting valiantly against Roman might.  Two great peoples fighting to the death.

    It’s the height of irony that latter-day Zionists embraced the self-serving narrative spun by Josephus, who was, after all, a deserter of the Jewish cause.

    After subduing the north, the Romans turned to the remnants of the revolt which had escaped to Herod’s fortress, Masada. There they laid siege for three years to the forces of Elazer Ben Yair, the last surviving commander of the Jewish revolt. The story as told by Josephus and adopted by the Zionist narrative, has it that these 900 souls, rather than being put to the sword by the Romans, took their own lives in a valiant act of national self-sacrifice.

    This is one of Israel’s primary founding myths. One which Baruch Kimmerling criticized so cogently in Israel’s Culture of Martyrdom. From events such as Masada flow many of the myths and illusions that fuel latter-day Israeli nationalism.

    In 1961, when Yigael Yadin began the first excavations in the area of Masada, he was laying the foundation for a “national archeology.”  One that would both search for Jewish roots in ancient Israel and link these roots to the creation of the new State.  Seeking remnants of the Bar Kochba revolt, the last period of Jewish sovereignty in the land, was a paramount concern.  If he could do so, he would weave a powerful national story of a tragic exile and a redemptive return.

    Though Yadin found the skeletal remains of Jewish refugees who fled to caves, no archaeological excavation could support the final mass martyrdom Josephus describes.  Thus a dominant myth of the new Jewish state cannot be supported by any scientific evidence (at least to date).

    In the second war, led by the messianic figure Shimon Bar Kochba (132-135 AD), the Jews again revolted. The rebellion failed the second time as well.  The end of this war led to the Romans putting all of Jerusalem to flame (again).  Unlike after the first revolt, the Romans expelled all Jews from Jerusalem and allowed none to return.

    The Myth of Forced Exile by Rome

    Despite the double destruction of Jerusalem in the first and second wars, there was no forced exile.  Rome did not expel all Jews from the province.  They allowed any Jew who had not rebelled to remain.  After the second war, no Jews were permitted to reside in Jerusalem or its environs.  This, in turn, led to these survivors fleeing north and taking up residence in the flourishing Jewish towns of the Galilee.

    They were joined by rabbis who moved their religious academies there and created a form of Jewish continuity with what had previously existed.  They in turn created new rituals like the Passover haggadah and seder, which affirmed that despite the Temple’s destruction, Jews maintained a direct connection to the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

    This was a radical concept because in Judaism, before the Temple’s loss, religious worship meant offering sacrifices and making pilgrimage three times a year during the major holidays to the site of the Temple in Jerusalem.  These new traditions comforted Jews by showing them they could maintain their religion despite this traumatic loss.

    The assumption that if Jerusalem died, then Jewish life in Israel died with it falsifies the reality for Jews on the ground.  Thus, a fundamental premise of Zionist history–exile and the centrality of Jerusalem to Jewish survival–is proven to be a myth.  Jews couldn’t return from exile after 2,000 years because they never left.

    But the modern Zionist narrative has Rome exiling the entire population of Judea as punishment for the revolt. This, in turn, leads to the far-flung Jewish Diaspora and the yearning of these Jews over the centuries to return to their ancient homeland.

    Christianity’s Role in Promoting Myth of Exile

    The film notes that Christianity itself played a role in developing the concept of Jewish exile.  Those Jews who broke away from normative Judaism and became followers of Jesus, imprinted their own interpretation on these historical events.  For them, the loss of two wars and destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple signified a rejection by God of the Jews.  To Christianity, the myth of exile became a convenient trope that explained both the decline of Jewish life in Israel and the rise of the new competing religion, which eventually (to their mind) superceded it.  Exile was God’s punishment of the Jews and His affirmation that He had instead embraced Christianity.

    Here is another irony, that modern Zionism embraced a Christian concept of exile used that reinforced the claim that Judaism was a religion rejected by God.

    Continuity of Jewish Life in Israel After the Wars Against Rome

    Not only did Jewish life in Israel not die, the archaeologists Ziv consults find that major northern communities like Sephoris actually grew in size and wealth after the revolt. In other words, there has always been continuity in Israel. Jews always lived there and never left.

    This directly contradicts the notion that Jerusalem is the navel of the world.  That the Temple is the single unifying edifice that draws the Jewish nation together.  That without the sacred city and sacred House, Judaism could not survive.  In fact, Israel could survive as a place where Jews lived quite well for centuries after the Temple fell.

    Diaspora Predated the Roman Conquest of Judea

    Returning to the concept of exile: there was in fact a Jewish Diaspora, as Zionist history suggested, but it existed long before the revolts against Rome. What’s more, there were more Jews living in the Diaspora than in Israel BEFORE either of the revolts. In Alexandria alone, close to a million Jews lived.  This population alone was larger than that of all the Jews living in Judea at the time.  Further, the first Jews arrived in Rome in the first century BCE or even earlier, long before the Jewish revolts.

    Why is all this important? Because the nascent State of Israel needed a heroic narrative to inspire its early citizens and to capture the heart of the world. Ben Gurion and the other Zionist leaders knew there were enemies lurking everywhere in the region. They knew that to survive they would need not only a strong army and political structure, but also a compelling historical myth.

    There were two interlocking elements of this narrative: the Holocaust and Exile. The Holocaust was an epochal tragedy that befell European Jewry.  Its surviving remnants needed a refuge where they could build a new life. What better way to welcome them than to tell them that their settlement in Israel wasn’t just a last resort to ensure their survival, but the fulfillment of a national dream to return from exile and close the circle of Jewish history.

    Palestinians: the True Exiles

    The myth of exile was supremely useful for another important reason: there already was a people in Israel before the Zionist movement arrived: the Palestinians (or as Ben Gurion called them, the fellahin). The Zionist leadership, in the course of the 1948 War, deliberately expelled up to 1-million of these residents of Israel who would otherwise have become citizens of the new state. In order to justify this founding injustice (I call it Israel’s Original Sin), known to Palestinians as the Nakba, the new state needed to its own myth of exile redeemed to supercede the Palestinian one.

    In other words, the only way to diminish the injustice of the Palestinian exile was to suggest that ending the 2,000 Jewish exile justified it.  Those millions of Jews returning to their homeland from this purported exile would blunt the sting of what the new state did to its Palestinian inhabitants. In fact, in denying the Nakba, the “Jewish state” could even argue that it would never commit such an injustice to the Palestinians, because it would never inflict its own fate on another people.

    The film, Exile, argues that, in fact, the only people actually exiled from Israel was the Palestinians. Ziv returns to Sephoris and the archaeological excavations there which research the history of Jewish habitation. There is no accompanying excavation of the ruined Palestinian village of Sefuri (destroyed during the Nakba), which sat atop the former Jewish community. These Palestinians were truly exiled by the new State. They, unlike the Zionists returning from their dreamed exile in 1948, were never allowed to return.

    One of the most intriguing ideas Ziv floats is that those exiled Palestinians from Sefuri might, in fact, be blood relatives of the Jews who lived in Sephoris earlier. Since there was no exile from the ancient Jewish town, there’s reason to believe there was historical Jewish continuity for centuries afterward. Perhaps the Jews, who’d proven so open to foreign influences and culture during the Roman era, eventually intermarried with the Arabs who came to the area at a later date.

    Further, the Arabs of the Galilee treasured their own connection to the Jewish traditions they knew, in part, by worshipping at the grave of a Jewish rabbi, whose holiness, women believed, would bring them good luck and fortune.  When Isaac Luria and his Kabbalist followers settled in the Galilee in the 16th century, those who told them where their ancestors were buried were the Arab residents of towns like Safuri.  So they, in effect, helped preserve these critical Jewish traditions.

    All this could make Sephoris-Safuri a potential model for a joint Israeli-Palestinian future in which no people rules over another.  It could pose an example for peaceful co-existence and an end, once and for all, of exile.

    But this is a dangerous concept for classical Zionism.  Without the myth of exile, it stood to lose a good deal of its power. Israel becomes no more than a first among equals, in terms of its relationship with the Diaspora. The entire notion of shlilat ha’galut (negation of Diaspora), the supremacy of Zion over the Jewish hinterlands, is shot to pieces without exile as an undergirding idea.

    Diaspora, in other words, is a place where Jews have always been at home.  Those Jews living in ancient Rome, for example, were completely integrated into the surrounding society.  They spoke and wrote in the contemporary Latin of the period and managed to thrive.

    Thus there is no need for Israel to take the place of the Diaspora or for the latter ever to die out and be superceded by the Zion.  Undermining this claim of the centrality of Israel to Jewish life and identity is a form of heresy.  A betrayal of the sacred principle of Zionism.  Without exile, without the myth of return, the ingathering of exiles and withering away of the surviving remnants, the fear is that Israel might collapse like a House of Cards.

    The closing words of the film are memorable and powerful reminders of what is at stake for Israel and the Palestinians in this land:

    What is being unearthed in the ruins of Sephoris and Safuri is a message of hope and warning: the promise of hope from a town that survived for hundreds of years because of its capacity to embrace many cultures and traditions; and a warning written in the destruction brought about by blind faith in a single narrative of history at the expense of others.

    Now you can see why UK’s Jewish leaders hated this film. To them, it was part and parcel of the program of delegitimzation orchestrated by Israel’s enemies throughout the world. It doesn’t matter that Exile was made by an Israeli. Even Israelis can be self-hating and participate in their own demise. Right?

    I take a different view: just as Sephoris defied Jerusalem’s national narrative and decided it could co-exist with Rome, there are Jews who reject the classical Zionist narrative in favor of one that suggests that Israel can survive without being the navel of the Jewish universe. Just as the Jewish people thrived both in Israel and in Diaspora, they do not need a Zionist narrative or heroic Jewish state to protect them or save them. They need an Israel that learns to take its place alongside the Diaspora, rather than above it.  They need an Israel that integrates itself into the Middle East, rather than attempts to dominate it and subject the region to its will.

  • BBC Documentary: Searching for Exile - Truth or Myth?
     Reply #2 - August 15, 2014, 08:37 PM
    The BBC finally broadcasted Ilan Ziv’s ‘controversial’ documentary on Sunday evening entitled ‘Searching for Exile: Truth or Myth’. The documentary, which was meant to be broadcasted last April as part of BBC Four’s history of Archaeology season, explores one of the most important components of Jewish history and identity. The notion of Jewish exile from Jerusalem in particular and Judea/Samaria/Palestine/Israel generally. One dominant narrative asserts that The Jews in biblical Palestine revolted against Roman rule, in what became known as the Jewish wars. Following the revolt the Romans crushed the rebellion and destroyed the Temple Mount (The holiest site in Judaism), before forcing the Jews into exile throughout Europe and the Near East.

    The spiritual sense of exile has been one of the central concepts in Judaism, but in the late 19th and early 20th century, this narrative took on a new meaning. With the birth of Zionism the exile was not only treated as a historical reality, but a physical state that Zionism would end by returning the Jews to Palestine. Once they had ‘returned’ they would set up a Jewish homeland and state, which is todays modern Israel. Early Zionist and later Israelis, poured significant resources into Archaeology trying to look for evidence of their ancestry and the narrative that accompanied it. This was vital for the pioneers of Israel as Archaeology was seen as a way of justifying not only their presence, but also the existence of Israel and the removal of the Palestinians.

    The trouble is that Archaeological evidence did not confirm this narrative, leading many to question it. The origins of modern European Jews is a hotly debated topic; as early as the 1950’s writers such as Arthur Koestler speculated that the origins of the Ashkenazi (European) Jews lay not in Palestine or the Near East, but in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Many in Israel are today unaware that significant Jewish kingdoms existed outside the region and that Judaism used to be a proselytising faith. It tried to convert people and Koestler suggests that the Ashkenazi were in fact European converts to Judaism and not the descendants of exiled Palestinian Jews.

    Although not a new idea, the debate was pushed-aside and many Israelis continued to abide by the exile narrative. This was important because if they weren’t the descendants of Palestinian Jewry, then what were they doing in this land? But this debate came to the centre-fold again when Shlomo Sand published ‘The Invention of the Jewish People’ in English in 2009.

    He originally published the book in Hebrew, however he only began to receive controversy once it was translated into English. Sand expanded on Koestler’s thesis arguing that the ‘exile’ never happened. He speculated that the descendents of the biblical Jews might be today’s Palestinian Muslims and Christians. This line of argument has clear implications for Israel and many saw the translation of this book into English as an attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel internationally.

    This is the backdrop that Ilan Ziv’s film comes from. Although he does not take the same line that Sand’s does, he nevertheless tries to unravel the narrative of exile as taught to him in Israel. He sees the narrative as a central part the Israel-Palestine conflict and he sought a critical re-examination of it. He also makes ties with how the exile narrative is told and how Palestinians discuss their own exile in 1948. It doesn’t state that Palestinians are the descendants of biblical Jewry, however in the film there is a scene where he goes to a Palestinian Muslim village in the Galilee, Northern Israel.  In the village, Muslims go to pray at an ancient tomb of a local saint, the catch being that this saint is a Jewish Rabbi. This alone forces the viewer to ask a number of questions.

    However, the rights to the film in the UK were bought by the BBC who scheduled to show it last April. According to Ilan the BBC executives were very keen on the film and he received praise for it. The BBC came into possession of the film six-months before the scheduled broadcast last April but, one week before it was due to be broadcast the BBC got jittery and began demanding last minute edits. The edits were substantial and Ilan was unable to do most of them before the broadcast. The BBC then pulled the programme claiming that it did not fit the format of the Archaeology season. Ilan felt the decision was political and he blogged about it here.  The film had been broadcast in other countries and this only made the BBC’s decision more peculiar.

    It took intense campaigning from Ziv and pro-Palestinian groups, before the BBC finally agreed to show it, albeit edited down from the original internationally shown edition. This was an important decision because not to have shown it would have brought into question the BBC’s commitment to diversity of opinions and free speech. The film does not resolve the question of exile but it does introduce a new audience to the question.

  • BBC Documentary: Searching for Exile - Truth or Myth?
     Reply #3 - August 17, 2014, 12:10 PM

    Debate shown by the BBC after it finally broadcast Ilan Ziv's documentary:
    A further comment from Ilan Ziv on the controversy over the broadcast:
  • BBC Documentary: Searching for Exile - Truth or Myth?
     Reply #4 - August 17, 2014, 05:52 PM

    Although not a new idea, the debate was pushed-aside and many Israelis continued to abide by the exile narrative. This was important because if they weren’t the descendants of Palestinian Jewry, then what were they doing in this land? But this debate came to the centre-fold again when Shlomo Sand published ‘The Invention of the Jewish People’ in English in 2009.

    He originally published the book in Hebrew, however he only began to receive controversy once it was translated into English. Sand expanded on Koestler’s thesis arguing that the ‘exile’ never happened. He speculated that the descendents of the biblical Jews might be today’s Palestinian Muslims and Christians. This line of argument has clear implications for Israel and many saw the translation of this book into English as an attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel internationally.

    This is the backdrop that Ilan Ziv’s film comes from. Although he does not take the same line that Sand’s does, he nevertheless tries to unravel the narrative of exile as taught to him in Israel...

    pdf of Shlomo Sand's book here:

    Discussion of the idea of the exile and its use by Israeli nationalism begins at page 129.
  • BBC Documentary: Searching for Exile - Truth or Myth?
     Reply #5 - June 13, 2024, 12:55 PM
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