The following film review was originally submitted to the Spectator. The Spectator’s editors, who had not seen the film, took issue with the negative portrayal of Palestinian historical revisionism and heavily revised the piece in order to reflect their own political prejudices. Their revisions raise significant ethical questions. In light of the rising anti-Semitism on college campuses and around the world, the Spectator’s actions are disturbing and irresponsible.
Last Tuesday, Hamilton welcomed Gloria Greenfield to present her latest film, Body and Soul: The State of the Jewish Nation. Greenfield has worked in publishing, marketing, and management for over thirty years prior to founding of Doc Emet Productions in 2007. Greenfield, with Doc Emet Productions, dedicates her work to the advancement of a Jewish identity and advocation for the Jewish state. Greenfield has produced and directed three films since 2008. The event, sponsored by the Alexander Hamilton Institute, was well attended by Hamilton students, alumni, and faculty.
Greenfield briefly prefaced her film with several critical issues facing the Jewish people today, including Israel’s right as a nation to exist and defend its territories, conflicts arising over local opposition to Israel, the “intellectual” attacks on the Jewish people and nation, and a growing illiteracy among modern Jews regarding their history, texts, and liturgy. The film itself is mostly historical, educating viewers on the legitimacy and history of the Jewish state. Late in the film, some of the more modern issues facing the state are explored. Greenfield establishes Judaism as more than just a religion. It is an identity, a community, and a tradition that ultimately manifests in the Israeli nationality where all who identify as Jewish will be welcome.
The film itself consists of a brief history of the Jewish people, the development of Zionism, establishment of Israel, and challenges currently facing the Jewish nation. Biblical, historical, and archaeological evidence all strongly suggest the ancient Jewish people settled in the modern day Israel, Jordan, and Syria, with Jerusalem at the center of the civilization. The Babylonians first conquered and exiled the Jews, destroying the holy temple in Jerusalem. The Romans later dominated the area, renaming the province Palaestina for the ancient enemies of the Jews. Around 1000 years later, the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem. Every conquest led to the persecution and execution of Jews. The Promised Land passed from conquerer to conquerer, none able to hold and establish rule before the British captured the land in the early 1900s, eventually helping create a Jewish state.
With the rise of European nationalism and widespread anti-Semitism in the 19th century, many Jewish people rediscovered their identity, prompting a will to reestablish themselves in the Zionist movement. Although many areas were considered, none had the attractiveness and historical pull of the original Promised Land. Thus, over the late 19th century and early 20th century, Jews began immigrating from many nations, where they were treated as second class citizens, en masse to the Promised Land.
The two World Wars and their aftermath devastated the Jewish people. Although a push for the creation of a Jewish state in the Middle East gained support, anti-Semitism ran rampant among politics of the mid-20th century. Ultimately, the United Nations managed to establish the Mandate for Palestine: a British controlled home for the Jewish people, with the Jordan River area split into Jewish Palestine and Trans-Jordan (Arab Palestine). Because the UN did not declare official borders, they tolerated attacks on Jewish Palestine, utterly failing to assist Israel when the Arabs invaded, exiling or killing Jews in the conquered lands. These unwarranted attacks persisted, forcing Israel into defensive wars against the surrounding Arab nations, continually surrendering land.
Even today, many Arab nations (particularly Palestinians) rewrite history in attempt to justify anti-Semitism. They preach Israel has no historical right or claim to their land, denying the state’s right to exist. The frequent persecution and exiling of Jews throughout history is not used as simply a historical fact, but manipulated into evidence for the inferiority of the Jewish people. This even extends to Christians, with claims that Jesus was not Jewish, but Muslim!
These Arab nations refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state. This unreasonable, unjustified aggression continues today, manifesting itself in countless conflicts.
Almost all modern nations take statehood for granted. Israel must continually defend its right to exist. So far, they have been militarily successful, but have a difficult political and ideological war to wage. Israel and the Jewish people cannot suffer these continued attacks on their nationhood. They (and Israel’s allies) must demand the right to be recognized and respected as a nation.
Special thanks again to Gloria Greenfield and the Alexander Hamilton Institute for making the event possible and accessible to the Hamilton Community.