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Israel Documentaries: The 5 Most Controversial Films Made About Israel

Israel Documentaries: The 5 Most Controversial Films Made About Israel
Samuel Maoz, Director of the film "Lebanon" kisses the award of "Golden Lion for Best Film" during the 66th Venice International Film Festival at Venice Lido, on September 12, 2009. (Xinhua/Landov)  

By    |   Sunday, 28 September 2014 12:05 PM

While not all documentaries on Israel have spurred controversy, some have as they tackle topics of human rights, love, and war.

A film depicting the torture of Palestinian children by Israeli forces in Tel Aviv is one of the latest such documentaries that has created controversy for Israel.

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“Stone Cold Justice,” released earlier this year and produced by a group of Australian filmmakers, shows Palestinian children tortured and abused by Israelis and forced to make false confessions.

“The film 'Stone Cold Justice' has sparked an international outcry about Israel's treatment of children in Israeli jails,” Press TV reported. “However, rights groups have criticized Tel Aviv for not doing anything to create a policy that protects Palestinian children against arbitrary arrest and torture.”

The 2009 film "Defamation" won best documentary at the London Film Festival and stirred controversy about the American Defamation League, or ADL, and its alleged exaggeration of anti-Semitic sentiment to promote the ADL political agenda.

According to Al Jazeera, Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir “argues that American Jewish leaders travel around the world exploiting the memory of the Holocaust to silence criticism of Israel.”

"It became more a film about perceptions and the way Jews and Israelis choose to see themselves and define themselves — a lot of the time unfortunately choosing the role of eternal victims as a way of life," Shamir said.

"Eyes Wide Open" was another documentary that created controversy at the London Film Festival in 2009. The film, depicting the love story between two Orthodox Jewish men in Jerusalem, sparked outrage and people walked out of the film’s showing.

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"This film has a provocative pitch," said Haim Tabakman, the film’s director, adding that he knew it would be difficult for Jews to watch the documentary, Al Jazeera said. "Every good film is political."

“Lebanon: The Soldier’s Journey,” a film about the 1982 invasion of Lebanon by Israeli forces, has created controversy as it was the Golden Lion winner at the Venice Film Festival in 2009.

Filmmaker Samuel Maoz said the movie is about four soldiers who were never involved in any kind of violence but then found themselves “dealing with horrible dilemmas, horrible conflicts, trying to survive, and in the end, lost their way in the chaos of war.”

Maoz made the film based on his own experience as an Israeli tank gunner in the 1982 conflict.

"I wanted the audience to smell the smells, taste the tastes," Maoz told The Guardian in 2010. "I wanted you to see the victims of war staring straight into your eyes (via the sight of the tank's gun). In a way, the tank is the fifth character. It's like an animal. The men are in the stomach of a wild animal."

“Farewell Israel: Bush, Iran and The Revolt of Islam” is a 2007 political documentary made by Joel Gilbert which chronicles the struggles Israel has had for centuries with the nation of Islam.

According to the film’s website, “Israel’s existence recalls Islam’s age old Jewish problem, first felt at Islam’s inception in Medina in 624 AD: How can Islam thrive and find salvation if Jews are politically powerful?”

Gilbert shows how the misunderstanding of Islam by the United States, mainly by former President George W. Bush, and his response to the 9/11 tragedy “played right into the hands of al-Qaida,” according to The Independent Critic.

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While not all documentaries on Israel have spurred controversy, some have as they tackle topics of human rights, love, and war.
israel, documentaries, 5, controversial, films
Sunday, 28 September 2014 12:05 PM
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