Woody Allen talks about Israel

The Woody Allen Israel Project has created a mini-media frenzy.  My column calling for funding to have the filmmaker shoot a film in Israel—accompanied by a crowd funding campaign on jewcer.com—went viral.  The LA Times Patrick Goldstein weighed in with a particularly insightful post today in The Los Angeles Times. Earlier this week Vanity Fair, Haaretz, Hollywood Reporter, BBC, Canadian Broadcasting and papers in Spain, England, Germany and across the US (The Kentucky Democrat???)  all picked up on the story.

The campaign has been big news in Israel, where the leading entertainment show has run a daily countdown on the money raised to support the Woody Allen Israel Project.

But what does Woody think?

So far, no word from him or his producers and representatives.

But as the estimable J.J. Goldberg—the Jewish journalist’s Jewish journalist—reports online at forward.com, there is now a clue.  Goldberg, a fluent Hebrew reader, translated an interview with Woody Allen that appeared in last Friday’s entertainment supplement of the newspaper Yediot.  In Paris Allen sat down with Yediot correspondent Yaniv Halili, who asked him about his movies, his wife, and finally, Israel.

The Hebrew version has not appeared online, but Goldberg did translate.

Here’s what Woody said:

“I support Israel and I’ve supported it since the day it was founded. Israel’s neighbors have treated it badly, cruelly, instead of embracing it and making it part of the Middle East family of nations. Over the years Israel has responded to these attacks in various ways, some of which I approved of and some less so. I understand that Israelis have been through hard times, I don’t expect Israel to react perfectly every time and that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a wonderful, marvelous country. I’m just worried about the rise of fundamentalism in Israel, which I think damages its interests. I also have questions about your leadership, which doesn’t always act in Israel’s best interests. But even my criticism of Israel comes from a place of love, just like when I criticize the United States. It would be a mistake not to say something if you think a country you love makes a mistake and could hurt itself.”

Then why have you never visited Israel?

“I’m not a tourist. I travel regularly to three cities that I know and love — Paris, London and Rome — and that’s it. I don’t like to leave home because I’m a bit neurotic, and when I do leave home, it’s mostly for work. I don’t like flying and I don’t consider myself a curious person who wants to see new places. There are many states in the United States that I’ve never visited. My wife is of Korean origin and she’s been trying for years to convince me to go to South Korea with her — so far, unsuccessfully. She’s also very curious about Israel and wants to go there with the girls, so they can see and understand their father’s Jewish culture. I assume we’ll go and visit Israel soon. There’s no way around it.”

Does this mean Woody Allen would shoot a movie in Israel if the funding came through?  Sounds to us like a yes. 

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