‘TOO ZIONIST’ FOR TV
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