Joint Israeli-Palestinian film broadcast simultaneously on Channel 2 and Ma’an

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United by the small screen, Israelis and Palestinians will transcend their divisions this week when “Under the Same Sun,” a film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is broadcast simultaneously on Israel’s Channel 2 and the Palestinian Ma`an television stations.

The film, which was produced by an Israeli and directed by a Palestinian, was shot in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem and stars actors from both Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Production credit is shared by Amir Harel, and Israeli who worked on the Academy Award-nominated “Paradise Now,” which depicts the preparations of a pair of Palestinian suicide bombers; and Search for Common Ground, an American non-governmental organization that does conflict resolution work.

Set in the near future, it focuses on how two business leaders cope with the unique political and personal challenges posed by operating in societies where there is a strong stigma against working with the “other side.” 

Harel commented that he sees the film as a mirror of reality. 

“A small part of it is our projection of the possible future. It’s more like a wish that reality would resemble in a way,” he said.

“It’s a fictional story but the underlying issues are real,” Sharon Rosen, co-director of the Jerusalem office of Search for Common Ground, told The Media Line. “We wanted to be able to convey the underlying, the intangibles; to build hope that something like this could happen.”

Leading actor Ali Saliman told The Media Line that he enjoyed working with his Israeli counterpart, adding, “We had never worked together but it felt natural.”

“Under the Same Sun” was received positively in the United States and the United Kingdom, where it has already been screened in London, but it’s unclear what the local population of Israelis and Palestinians will think.

Tsvika Kleinman, who already viewed the movie, said it is very realistic.

“As an Israeli, I know for sure it is possible — and already happened in the past, as shown in the movie — to bring hundreds of thousands of Israelis to the streets and create a movement that would put pressure from the bottom up,“ he told The Media Line. However, Kleinman believes that creating such a grassroots movement is more of a challenge for Palestinians.

A Palestinian businessman from Jerusalem told The Media Line that the film is very close to reality: his reality in particular.

“This topic is very sensitive for us to talk about because there are people who will destroy our reputation,” he said, referring to those who adhere to an anti-normalization with Israel campaign, adding that his company was targeted two years ago when he was accused of working with Israelis. He said it took him a very long time to recover his losses.

A businessman in the Palestinian territories told The Media Line that there are joint business projects between the conflicting sides, but it’s not something that is often publicized. There are a variety of opinions on the Palestinian street about “normalizing” with Israel, but the Palestinian National Authority has not given a public statement for or against such work.

Search for Common Ground’s founder and president, John Marks, hired the Palestinian director and Israeli producer in 2011 after an extensive month of searching for the right team. He hopes that Israelis and Palestinians will realize that most people on both sides want to bring an end to the conflict.

“I still believe that peace is possible,” he said, “and I wanted to make an entertaining dramatic film that showed that. Who knew when we started this project two years ago that there would be active peace talk again taking place?”

LIVE BROADCAST: Nashuva Shabbat Services – Aug. 3, 2012

On Friday night, Aug. 3 will live stream Nashuva’s Shabbat services from The Brentwood Presbyterian Church.  Join Rabbi Naomi Levy for a high-energy service combining charismatic preaching, traditional prayer and meditation, along with a heavy infusion of musical styles, from reggae to klezmer, performed by the Nashuva band.

This is a recording of a live broadcast from Friday, Aug. 3.


LIVE BROADCAST: Nashuva Shabbat Services – July 6, 2012

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Al-Manar TV has Australia mulling broadcasting changes

Australia’s media regulator is proposing to prohibit content that advocates terror after an investigation found that a radical Islamic TV station breached the broadcasting standards code.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority said in its report Dec. 9 that Hezbollah’s Al-Manar Television, which is banned in the United States, that two programs breached Australian standards.

One was the current affairs show “With the Event,” which the report said “was likely to gratuitously vilify a group on the basis of ethnicity and religion.” The other show noted was “With the Viewers.”

The executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, cautiously welcomed the report, but urged the Australian government to formally request that the Indonesian government stop further Indosat transmissions of Al-Manar programming into Australia.

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council concurred.

“Anti-Jewish hatred on Al-Manar has long been a feature of the station,” said its executive director, Dr. Colin Rubenstein. “Al-Manar’s raison d’etre is to radicalize Muslims around the world, including in Australia, to support Hezbollah’s terrorist methods and goals. AIJAC believes any media organization owned and/or operated by any banned terrorist organization should also be banned in Australia.”

The Arabic-language station has twice been banned in Australia, but was cleared in 2009.

Al Jazeera Gaza coverage earns Emmy nomination

The Al Jazeera English news channel was nominated for an International Emmy for its coverage of the Gaza War.

The Emmy nominations were announced Wednesday by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Al Jazeera received a nod in the news category for its coverage of both sides of Israel’s monthlong war against Hamas that began in December 2008.

Its competition in the category is Sky News, for its coverage of Pakistan; Russian Television, for its coverage of a visit by President Obama; Brazil’s TV Globo, for coverage of a blackout that affected 60 million people.

Thin Blue Media Line

Felice and Michael Friedson call their news production company The Media Line, Ltd. (TML), but a limited media line is exactly what they are trying to get around. Dedicated to an accurate portrayal of Israel in the news, the Friedsons work to provide both sides of the story.

In early February, TML opened its own broadcast studio in Jerusalem after years of broadcasting from makeshift quarters in a hotel lobby. Now the nonprofit company has a home for its multiple projects, a list of journalistic endeavors that keeps expanding.

Since the late 1980s, the Friedsons have produced a radio talk show concerning Israel and the Middle East, first broadcasting in South Florida and later in Israel. TML also serves as liaison to foreign journalists, giving reporters background and access to informed sources who can present a clear picture of Israeli political reality.

Their Web site provides updated news and other resources for journalists and others who need accurate information. In addition, they produce news stories and interviews for television, which they distribute directly to local stations, bypassing networks and aiming directly for “America’s Heartland.”

“We’re not saying, ‘It’s not fair.’ What we’re doing is filling in the gaps,” says Michael Friedson, who serves as director of media services (Felice Friedson is president-CEO). “The media problem is not one of commission of evil against Israel. It’s a matter of omission. We have to get information to people who aren’t necessarily looking for it,” he says. That often includes the journalists assigned to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Those journalists are often hesitant to trust or even contact official Israeli sources, according to Michael Friedson, but TML can often put them in touch with accurate, informed sources. “We’re Americans,” he says, and by remaining unbiased in their news presentation, TML gains the trust of journalists looking for stories.

“I can’t say it enough — we don’t play games with the news. We are a professional media organization. We meet and exceed all journalistic standards,” he says.

TML staff includes David Zev Harris, a Jerusalem Post correspondant and former BBC reporter, and Michael Widlanski, senior analyst of Arab language media and a former reporter for The New York Times.

Some of the people who are not necessarily looking for Israeli news are the Evangelical Christians who are some of TML’s most regular audience. In 2001, when the Friedsons attended the National Religious Broadcasting Convention, they became the first Jewish media group to do so, and are now broadcasting to Christian media outlets across the U.S. They have worked with Pat Robertson and produced news segments for “The 700 Club.”

“We wish the Jewish community would be as unconditionally supportive as the Christians have been,” says Felice Friedson.

Some of the stories TML covers hit members of its staff too close to home. “When attacks occur in Israel, people don’t hear about the wounded. They hear numbers. They hear deaths, and so-and-so was ‘lightly wounded.’ Lightly wounded can mean someone lost an eye or a limb,” says Felice Friedson.

When a suicide bomber attacked a cafe one block away from their new studio, TML filmed the devastation, not just the bloodstains and debris. Those images were beamed to thousands of homes through local U.S. news programs.

The message of unbiased news from Israel is simple, according to TML. “Israel can stand on its own, even with its flaws,” says Felice Friedson. “Report the events, and report the context, too.”

For more information about The Media Line, Ltd., visit  or call (858) 523-0927.

Virtual Schmooze

We all hear rumblings about a global community, but a global schmooze? That’s just what the Jewish Community Centers of North America, in conjunction with the 92nd Street Y in New York City, propose to execute. Starting on Sun., March 11, the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles will host an innovative new lecture series through Kallah — a program sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and supported by the Charles and Dora Mesnick Cultural Arts Fund — by bringing such speakers as Alan Dershowitz, Elie Wiesel and Anne Roiphe to you live, via satellite. The lectures will be broadcast from the 92nd Street Y in New York City directly to JCCs across the nation, allowing participants to ask questions to their lecturers in real time for what is being termed a "virtual gathering."

The nation will be linked with the stage in New York via e-mail and fax, so that while the speakers hold the stage in Manhattan, members of the audience, regardless of geographic location, can participate as if they were sitting in the first row. Scheduled during the Hebrew months of Elul and Adar, a traditional time of gathering and Judaic study, the programs are designed to experience and celebrate Jewish learning and create community despite geographic divides. "Jewish education should take advantage of modernity to reconnect the Jewish people with their Jewish heritage," said Jonathan Fass, the Jewish education specialist for the JCCs of Greater Los Angeles.

Radio personality Dennis Prager, who is currently broadcasting on KRLA and who will be participating in the March 11 event, said the format is appealing because "when you have Jews in public life who have very different positions on issues, it’s a good and rare opportunity to hear them confront each publicly." The national format is especially appealing because "none of the issues are geographically specific, so it’s good to give them a national format," he added.

Fass explained the JCCs’ desire to participate as being motivated by a desire to innovate Jewish education. "Kallah is innovative because all of North American Jewry can participate in Jewish learning together, each community can learn from its neighbor community, and the Los Angeles Jewish community can connect with the greater North American Jewish community."

Participating in the event is also a way in which the JCC hopes to redefine itself. "The Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles is redefining itself as an Jewish organization with a renewed commitment to the Jewish growth of Los Angeles," Fass said. "Our agency recognized Jewish education is a fundamental component of Jewish growth. We believe Kallah is an adult Jewish education opportunity with widespread appeal to the entire community, and so we joined other Jewish community centers throughout North America in supporting the program."

Fass added that there are also technical challenges to the broadcast. "In Los Angeles, we will be receiving the broadcasts with the assistance of Globecast, a national communications company. The Jewish community centers have never used technology like this before in community programs, but we are confident that these programs will run smoothly."

"The Future of North American Jewry" will be led by law professor Alan Dershowitz, radio personality Dennis Prager, author Anne Roiphe and Rabbi David Woznica on Sun., March 11, 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the West Valley Jewish Community Center. Additional events will be held at the Museum of Tolerance: Tues., March 20, "Great Jewish Thinkers," 6-8 p.m.; Sun., March 25, "An Evening with Elie Wiesel," 4:30-6:30 p.m. Each event is $6. For tickets or more information, contact the Westside JCC at (323) 938-2531 x 2207 or the Museum of Tolerance at (310) 772-2452.

Your Friends and Neighbors

There are two ways of looking at the violence that wracks Israel and the Palestinian autonomous zones. One is that it proves the peace process must stop. The other is that it proves the process must continue.Which conclusion people reach no doubt depends on conclusions they reached long before the rioting that has claimed 53 lives as of Tuesday and left scores wounded. To polemicists and true believers on either side, the street battles are simply more evidence of the justness of their cause.

For these people, everything is fodder. The widely broadcast image of 12-year-old Muhammed al-Durah, crouched in terror behind his father just before he was shot dead by Israelis in the crossfire between Israeli and Palestinian troops, would seem to stand apart as a symbol of any conflict’s cruel human price. Al-Durah was a fifth grader; a good student; a boy who, according to The New York Times, raised pet birds; and, along with the rest of his friends, threw rocks at Israeli troops. To many Palestinians, he’s a martyr whose death cries out for yet more blood. To some Jews, he’s a victim of a madness Yasser Arafat chose to unleash.

But to more dispassionate observers, the peace process has always been about demographics, not blame. What matters, in the end, is not who got there first, who hates whom more, or even into whose ear God whispered and when. What matters, as Prof. Steven Spiegel points out (p. 6), is the fact that millions of Arabs and millions of Jews have to find a way to share a very small piece of earth. They do not have to be friends, but they have to be neighbors. Riots, rhetoric, even – God forbid – war will never change that fact, only return the antagonists, time and again, to face it anew.

Does Israel want to be a smaller democratic state with a largely Jewish population? Or does it want to become an apartheid regime controlling a rebellious population of Arabs in the territories who want no part of it? Do the Palestinians want to lose more generations to fighting and occupation, or do they want independence and a shot at normalcy? The smoke and headlines will go away, those questions won’t.What is telling about the reaction of Jews in Los Angeles to the violence in Israel is how little of the discussion in synagogues, by e-mail and on the street focuses on assigning blame. Leaders and pundits point fingers, while we, from a safe distance, have long ago decided to concentrate less on, “Who started it?” and more on, “When will it end?” We are sad, we are anxious, we wish this New Year could be the time to celebrate a peace deal that seemed possible at the start of the Camp David talks last August. Instead, we go into shul on Yom Kippur and pray, Maybe next year.

Feed a Child, Starve a Seagull

Last week, at least 100 people converged at Venice Beach on the second day of Rosh Hashanah for Mishkon Tephilo’s tashlich service. According to the ritual, they tossed scraps of bread into the ocean, symbolizing a fresh year of transgressions for which they seek forgiveness. As soon as Rabbi Dan Shevitz began intoning the liturgy, seagulls filled the sky above the breakers. “Like swallows returning to Capistrano,” a congregant said. “The birds probably have tashlich on their biological clock,” another laughed.This year, as in the past, there were plenty of scraps of bread to feed on. We resolve to do better, but every year we find ourselves with plenty of reasons to cast our bread upon the waters. Even the birds know that by now.And come next year, we will be back, have no doubt about it, with a fresh list. In 5761, the November election, the fight over vouchers, the mayor’s race, not to mention the normal tensions of Jewish communal life and the strains of family and work, will provide ample opportunity for new transgressions. The cycle suggests that the struggle to be stainless and sin-free is a losing battle. But the holiday’s liturgy gives us an out: Acts of kindness, it says, help balance the scales. It’s no accident that ancient synagogue mosaics represent this month with the astrological symbol of Libra.Some of us manage, through acts of transcendent humanity, to tip the scales in our balance. For one striking example, read the story of Christina Wright on p. 14. For the rest of us, there are smaller ways to make a difference.You might think of that when attending services Sunday and Monday. More than 700 synagogues around the country have teamed with L.A.-based MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, which since 1985 has distributed $23 million to nonprofit hunger relief agencies around the world, feeding people of all backgrounds. At your Yom Kippur services, you should be able to fill out a pledge card to MAZON (or try, donating to the organization what you would ordinarily spend on food that day. In this town, where a slab of ahi can set you back $30, that number could add up. A MAZON donation is a good way to wipe the slate clean for the New Year, before it starts filling up again.

The ADL Is Not Amused

The Anti-Defamation League is not amused by a “Saturday Night Live” satire in which cast members, posing as pop stars, said that Jews own all the banks and that Christians have forgiven them for “killing our Lord.”

And NBC has promised not to air the sketch again — maybe.

Following widespread protests by viewers, ADL head Abraham Foxman dispatched a letter to Rosalyn Weinman, NBC’s head of broadcast content policy, blasting the skit for reviving “anti-Semitic stereotypes at their worst” and called it “a lame attempt at humor.”

In her response, Weinman pledged to take the offending portion out of the sketch in reruns. However, in a subsequent statement, NBC said that the entire matter is “currently under review.”

Lorne Michaels, “Saturday Night Live” executive producer, also joined the fray, telling the Washington Post last week that he opposed Weinman’s pledge and charging that the ADL “trivializes the important work they’re supposed to be doing with this kind of nonsense.”

Whichever way the decision goes, Foxman said in a phone interview, “We won’t go to war with NBC and SNL, but we hope they will be more sensitive next time.”

The gradually evolving brouhaha started Dec. 4, when SNL parodied an earlier CBS special, “And So This Is Christmas,” with a mock promotion for an imaginary CBS show, called “And So This Is Chanukah.”

Featured in the CBS Christmas special were Celine Dion, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan and Babyface singing carols and recalling their childhood holidays.

In the SNL Chanukah skit, cast members and guest Christina Ricci appeared as faux pop divas Dion, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey singing fake Chanukah songs.

In the next scene, the faux Dion, played by SNL regular Ana Gasteyer, said that as a child she was told that Chanukah “is a holiday celebrated by the people who own all the movie studios and the banks.”

Ricci, as Britney Spears, said that at this time of the year, “We, as Christians, take time out to think about forgiving our Jewish friends for killing our Lord.”

The following Monday, Foxman said, “all the lights on our switchboard lit up. So we got a transcript of the skit and felt that it had crossed the line of legitimate satire.”

In his letter to NBC’s Weinman, Foxman noted, “We have worked with the Vatican and others for the last 50 years to educate against this poisonous doctrine and for SNL, in a lame attempt at humor, to revive this notion is unacceptable.”

At the same time, the ADL director recognized that SNL is a series designed “to poke fun at institutions and individuals in society.” He added that other parts of the Chanukah sketch, while perhaps offensive, “would fall into that legitimate irreverent category.”

In his counterblast last week, Michaels told the Washington Post that “what satire is supposed to do is provoke discussion.”

“We are not pro-drugs, but we make jokes about drugs,” Michaels said. “We’re not pro-ignorance, but we make jokes about ignorance, and the only way you can do it is by showing ignorance. The idea that any discussion of these ideas is out of bounds is idiotic to me.”

The Jewish Federation is opening a Venezuela Flood Relief Fund
c/o Executive Office of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
5700 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036
For further information call Annabelle Stevens, Director of Public Relations (323) 761-8081