Oriental rugs, Bauhaus furniture, and Mediterranean sweets adorned a stage featuring one college student and a former member of Israel’s parliament, known as the Knesset. The suavely-set docuseries preview was the latest attempt by a group of Zionist organizations, most prominently the Tikvah Fund, to create greater public knowledge about the history of Zionism.
On Dec. 12, the University of California, Los Angeles’ Hillel Center held a preview of the new documentary expanding on the history of Zionism. Featuring former Israeli politician Einat Wilf and her 23-year-old former Georgetown University student, Zoe Tara Zeigherman, the five-part documentary series will be featured on over 30 college campuses across the country before a wider release next month.
The documentary breaks down the history of the Jewish state’s establishment and its aftermath into five parts: emancipation and political Zionism; socialism and labor Zionism; religious Zionism and anti-Zionism; Islamic and Arab anti-Zionism amidst the creation of Israel; and Soviet, anti-imperialism, and left-wing anti-Zionism.
The series is unique in the thoroughness of its attempt to blend historical narratives with contemporary political analysis. “The series ends in our contemporary moment and a discussion of left-wing anti-Zionism,” Zeigherman told The Algemeiner. However, “it discusses this movement through its roots in Soviet anti-Zionism.”
Zeigherman, a London-born graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, added that the film seeks to highlight the similarities between contemporary anti-Zionism and the “anti-Zionist propaganda machine that was so heavily invested in the Soviet Union, especially after the Six-Day War [of 1967].”
In the episodes, which range in length from 30-40 minutes, Wilf examines the history of Zionism in a way that the directors sought to make digestible for the average college student.
After serving in the Knesset as a representative of the Labor and the Independence parties from 2010 to 2013, Wilf has since pivoted to activism and academia, authoring several books and, most recently, teaching courses at Georgetown.
The impetus for the documentary, Zeigherman told The Algemeiner, was the miseducation of her peers. During the tumultuous summer of 2020, Zeigherman recalled that her peers viewed Jews as “actually white and oppressors in a kind of oppressed-oppressor narrative used as a comprehensive worldview.” The result, she observed, was “the erasure of Jewish history and an erasure of Jewish people.”
Her alienation amongst progressive voices ultimately led Zeigherman to seek out the voices of progressive Zionist pundits online. Among them was Wilf, who by sheer coincidence was set to teach at Georgetown the following semester. The former Israeli politician’s course was “transformative” for Zeigherman “as a student, for me, as a Jew,” she explained. “I was finally able to root my understanding of myself in knowledge, in history.”
This month’s screening took place as a preview ahead of a wider audience release set to occur in Jan. 2024.
According to the documentary’s product manager, Yael Zeldin, its broader release will be intended “to become an integral part of the curriculum for Israel education.”
Zeldin told The Algemeiner that agreements are in place with Hillel chapters “to be viewed across the country,” but that she hopes it will also be featured in “synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, and anywhere else where its screening can be of educational value.”
The series is produced by Levana Studios, and a trailer for the documentary can be found on its website.
The public release will include a series of YouTube videos that break up the interviews into soundbites, with the intention of such a format resonating with a younger generation that often watches short videos on social media.
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The detailed plans for a Canadian law that regulates hate speech online are seen as a ‘good start’ by Jewish groups
Jewish groups and others concerned about the rise of hate speech online welcomed the introduction of a new government bill on Feb. 26. And while the parliamentary process for it to become law is only beginning, it’s a good start according to advocacy groups who have called for the government to regulate certain types of […]
‘You Jew!’: UC Berkeley Mob Attacks Jews During Event With IDF Soldier, University Pledges Investigation
A mob of hundreds pro-Palestinian students and non-students shut down an event Monday evening at University of California-Berkeley featuring an Israeli soldier, forcing Jewish students to flee to a secret safe room as the protestors overwhelmed campus police
Footage of the incident shared by the outlet shows a serried mass of anti-Zionist agitators banging on the doors of the Zellerbach Library while an event featuring Israeli reservist Ran Bar-Yoshafat —who visited the university to discuss his military service during Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7 — took place inside. The mob then stormed the building — breaking glass windows in the process, according reports in the Daily Wire — and forced school officials to evacuate Jewish students to a secret safe-room.
“What happened last night was deeply concerning and a violation of some of our most important rules and values as a university, including freedom of speech, respect for diversity, and the ties that bind us together as a community,” UC Berkeley assistant vice chancellor for communications and public affairs Dan Mogulof told The Algemeiner on Tuesday during a phone interview. “What we saw last night has no recent precedent. More than an estimated 200 protesters showed up at the venue and gained unauthorized entry into the building. There has never been anything like what occurred last night.”
Mogulof pledged that the university will launch an investigation into the incident.
“We do not and will not ignore violations of our rules and values,” he said. “When we have events like this, we always have two priorities. One, to do everything in our power so the event goes forward and the other is to do everything in our power to protect the safety and well being of our students and members of the public, and given the size of the crowd, and the violence of the crowd, we were unable to do both, even with 20 police officers. The event had to be cancelled, so that we could evacuate the building and support the safety of the students.”
During the infiltration of Zellerbach, one of the mob — which was assembled by Bears for Palestine, which had earlier proclaimed its intention to cancel the event — spit on a Jewish student and called him a “Jew,” pejoratively.
“You know what I was screamed at? ‘Jew, you Jew, you Jew,’ literally right to my face,” the student who was attacked said to a friend. “Some woman — then she spit at me.”
Shaya Keyvanfar, a student, told The Algemeiner that her sister was spit and that the incident was unlike any she had ever witnessed.
“Once the doors were closed, the protesters somehow found a side door and pushed it open, and a few of them managed to get in, and once they did, they tried to open the door for the rest of them,” Keyvanfar said. “It was really scary. They were pounding on the windows outside — they broke one — they spit at my sister and others. They called someone a dirty Jew. It was eerie.”
Keyvanfar added that it may be difficult to identify the culprits because anti-Zionists activists wear masks to conceal their identities.
Security concerns plagued the event all week, according to the Daily Wire, and after arriving on campus Bar-Yoshafat was required to conceal his identity. Prior to that, the location of the event was changed to various locations to prevent violence.
“I just felt really bad for these kids because they were scared,” Bar-Yoshafat told Daily Wire. “Girls were crying from being attacked, and I think the kid that was spat on was just so shocked. I don’t think the students anticipated so many people being violent, they thought they would just chant outside.”
During Tuesday’s interview with The Algemeiner Mogulof stressed that the university “understands now that we are in new territory” and called the incident a “black mark” on its reputation. He also explained that UC Berkeley launched an antisemitism awareness program in 2019, which included panels and talks with esteemed scholars of Jewish history such as Deborah Lipstadt, because it takes the issue of campus antisemitism seriously.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
Prominent Pro-Hamas Activist in Australia Arrested on Kidnapping and Torture Charges
Australian police on Monday announced the arrest of a prominent pro-Hamas advocate accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and torture of a man whose perceived offense was to work for a Jewish employer.
Melbourne resident Laura Allam was charged with kidnapping, armed robbery, illegal detention, assault and battery against the 31-year-old man, who has not been named by authorities. Working with an accomplice who has also been arrested and charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, armed robbery, threats to kill, intention to cause injury, recklessly causing injury, unlawful assault and assault with weapon, the 28-year-old Allam is understood to have targeted the man solely because his employer is Jewish.
According to a statement from police in the State of Victoria, the brutal assault occurred on the night of Feb. 16 in the Melbourne suburb of St. Albans. “It’s alleged a man was pulled from a car near the intersection of Gladstone and Cleveland streets about 9.30pm,” the statement noted. “He was then allegedly placed in another car and assaulted and robbed before being released in Braybrook.” The victim required extensive treatment in hospital for injuries sustained in the “horrific kidnapping and torture.”
Allam is a prominent member of Australia’s large Lebanese community and the CEO of the Al Jannah Foundation, which bills itself as an Islamic humanitarian organization. While Allam’s social media profiles specify that she is still running the organization, an entry on the Australian register of companies notes that the foundation ceased operations in July 2023, less than three years after it was formally incorporated. The foundation’s website additionally lists a number of projects that it is raising money for — including addressing food shortages in Lebanon and child health challenges — that apparently remain unfunded.
In the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel, Allam dedicated most of her time to attacking Israel on social media as well as spreading false information on her TikTok account, which had 20,000 followers before being closed down, as well as X/Twitter and Instagram. One post on Feb. 5 promoted the fabricated claim that a British Royal Navy warship dispatched to the Gulf to combat attacks on shipping by Houthi terrorists in Yemen had “broken down off the coasts of England.”
Her barbs against Israel on social media included a post that declared “good riddance” over an image of four Israeli soldiers killed while serving in Gaza. On Oct. 8 — the day after the Hamas pogrom which resulted in the murder of more than 1,200 people and the kidnapping of over 200 amid atrocities that included mass rape and bodily mutilation — Allam told her followers that she had “woken up to some great news from our beloved Palestine.” Other posts spoke of “a jihad of martyrdom or victory” and lauded attempts to “avenge the martyrs in Jenin and Gaza.”
Allam discussed her arrest in her final post on her Instagram account before it was closed down. Reproduced on the pro-Israel blog Israellycool, Allam’s post boasted of her “selflessness” and her commitment to “remaining quiet — for now,” going on to declare that “[T]here are words that burn the wildest flames in the deepest pits of my heart and will only ever be extinguished when Allah takes the ‘haqq’ (truth) from every single oppressor to walk this earth.”
“This seems to be an admission as to her involvement, yet amazingly no apology for her actions,” Israellycool observed in an accompanying commentary. “In fact, she speaks as if the incident somehow passively ‘occurred’ – as opposed to her actively doing something terrible.”
In its coverage of Allam’s arrest on Monday, Melbourne’s Herald Sun news outlet reported on “an extraordinary suppression order relating to her case prevents the Herald Sun from running Ms Allam’s image, referencing some ethnic groups or providing certain detail about her advocacy activities.” However, several posts on X/Twitter shared her photograph, her name and her other affiliations.
Allam made the news earlier this month after she spoke at a pro-Hamas protest at the Australian parliament in Canberra alongside three senators from the left-wing Green Party. Responding to the event, Sky News Australia host Andrew Bolt highlighted Allam’s Islamist loyalties, saying, “[T]hat’s one of the people now sharing a stage with the Greens. The Greens may not have known of Allam’s past, but this is who they find next to them in their gutter.”
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