‘TOO ZIONIST’ FOR TV

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY LEE HARPIN

A RE­VEAL­ING doc­u­men­tary con­tain­ing footage of Is­rael’s med­i­cal re­lief ef­fort for more than 4,000 Syr­i­ans caught up in the coun­try’s civil war is con­sid­ered “too Zionist” for main­stream Bri­tish tele­vi­sion, its direc­tor David Cohen has claimed.

Love Your En­e­mies was pre­miered at a spe­cial West­min­ster screen­ing or­gan­ised by the Is­rael Bri­tain Al­liance on Tues­day evening and was en­thu­si­as­ti­cally re­ceived by an au­di­ence of MPs in­clud­ing former cabi­net min­is­ter Stephen Crabb.

But in a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion fol­low­ing the screen­ing, Mr Cohen re­vealed that dis­cus­sions over pur­chase of the film with both the BBC and Chan­nel 4 have so far proved fruit­less.

He said: “The feed­back seems to be that the film is be­ing very well re­ceived but that this sub­ject mat­ter is not their pri­or­ity. I have heard it sug­gested from one chan­nel that the film is deemed to be too easy on Is­rael. It is my in­ter­pre­ta­tion that it was felt to be too Zionist.”

Con­ser­va­tive MP An­drew Percy, who at­tended the screen­ing, sug­gested it was be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to se­cure cover­age of pos­i­tive Is­raeli hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts be­cause me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions were al­ways quick to raise per­ceived neg­a­tive is­sues af­fect­ing the na­tion, such as the cri­sis in Gaza.

Mr Cohen and his team were given un­prece­dented ac­cess by Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces and med­i­cal of­fi­cials to film and in­ter­view vic­tims of the Syr­ian civil war.

Medics de­scribed the har­row­ing ordeal of treat­ing wounded men, women and chil­dren who cross the bor­der, of­ten in se­cret, to be treated in Is­rael and then re­turn to Syria.

One young male pa­tient ad­mits: “In Syria we are taught that Is­rael is the en­emy — but all I have seen since I have been here is hu­man­ity.”

Mr Cohen told the JC: ”I am not sure there is another ex­am­ple to be found of a hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­fort like this. Is­rael and Syria are two en­emy states and yet a de­ci­sion has been made by the Is­raelis to pro­vide help to those on the other side hurt by this hor­ren­dous war.”

Sharon Bar-li, Is­rael’s deputy am­bas­sador to the UK, con­firmed to the au­di­ence that Is­rael had now treated more than 1,000 Syr­ian chil­dren out of more than 4,000 vic­tims of the civil war who had en­tered Is­raeli hos­pi­tals.

She also re­vealed that Is­rael had funded the build­ing of a hospi­tal across the bor­der in Syria. It was re­cently hit by a mis­sile fired by troops loyal to President Bashar As­sad, but de­spite the at­tack, the hospi­tal re­mained open, she said.

HACKNEY COUN­CIL is build­ing a new hous­ing devel­op­ment with spe­cial fea­tures to ap­peal to the lo­cal Ortho­dox com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing suc­cah-friendly bal­conies.

Most of the bal­conies at Tower Court in Stam­ford Hill will be open to the sky rather than stacked above each other as usual.

Open bal­conies will make life eas­ier for suc­cah-builders since a taber­na­cle would be re­li­giously in­valid if cov­ered.

The block ex­pected to be com­pleted in 2021, will con­tain Shab­bat-com­pli­ant lifts along with more four- and five-bed­room homes than would nor­mally be the case on such an es­tate.

In ad­di­tion, “the kitchens have been de­signed to en­able a kosher lay­out,” a coun­cil spokesman said.

“The homes have not been de­signed specif­i­cally for the Ortho­dox Jewish com­mu­nity and will be avail­able and ac­ces­si­ble to any­one. But due to the large Ortho­dox Jewish pop­u­la­tion in that area, cer­tain as­pects have been de­signed with the needs of that com­mu­nity in mind.”

Tower Court was pre­vi­ously an es­tate of 67 homes, which was torn down some years ago be­cause of the state of the build­ings.

Around a quar­ter of the 132 new homes, which will re­place them, will be avail­able for so­cial rent.

There will be 10 four-bed­room and eight five-bed­room homes on of­fer. The com­plex will also house a new sta­tion for Hat­zo­lah, the Jewish am­bu­lance ser­vice.

The build­ing’s re­li­giously sen­si­tive fea­tures re­sult from con­sul­ta­tions be­tween the coun­cil and the Ortho­dox com­mu­nity.

Ian Sharer, a long-serv­ing Ortho­dox Jewish coun­cil­lor in the bor­ough, said: “An aware­ness of the re­li­gious needs of the Ortho­dox com­mu­nity is a wel­come step for­ward for Hackney Coun­cil”.

Is­raeli medics at work in a scene from the film

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