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Between Palestinians and Israelis: The Church and the Media

2014
Distributed by Alden Films, Box 449, Clarksburg, NJ 08510; 732.462.3522
Produced by Vidal Sassoon Center for the Study of Antisemitism of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Director n/a
DVD , color, 66 min.
College - General Adult
Antisemitism, Judaism


Reviewed by Sheila Intner, Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College GSLIS at Mt. Holyoke, South Hadley, MA

Not Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 2/2/2015

Alden Films continues bringing completely to the American academic market completely unedited tapes of conference sessions held some time ago at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem by the Vidal Sassoon Center for the Study of Antisemitism. This entire presentation is available on the Internet free of charge, but the price being charged for libraries that want the DVD—$24.95—is very modest. However, the quality of the presentation is very poor. Unfortunately, the contents are timely and relevant, and the speakers have important points to make, bringing evidence to bear on themes that ought to be heard here in the West, not just in Israel.

Two speakers—Professor Dina Porat and Mr. Gershon Nerel—give papers covering anti-Semitic representations of Israelis in both the Christian and secular media. Professor Porat, who fidgeted constantly as she spoke, describes the way the media portrays the 2002 takeover of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity by Palestinian terrorists during which they held 38 of its clergy hostage for an extended period. She shows how the Christian media used the terms “shelter” and “refuge” to make the terrorists inside the church sound like good guys seeking refuge, while the Israeli police surrounding the church trying to defuse the crisis and obtain the release of the hostages were referred to as “besieging” the church. Mr. Nerel describes how Palestinian Christians have historically collaborated with Muslims in murderous intifadas against Israeli Jews as far back as the 1920s, and now are using the Internet to portray Israeli Jews as persecuting Palestinian Christians the way the Romans did in the time of Jesus. Both speakers were extraordinarily believable.

What’s wrong with this video? It is entirely talking heads. All but a few minutes at the end are badly recorded by a motionless camera. Later, during a brief Q and A period (actually, there are no questions, just comments from several of the attendees), an incompetent camera operator jiggles the camera around a few times so the questioners can be seen. This is worse than the static view of the speakers. The tape seems to be a record of the event that, probably, was not intended for outside audiences. Second, the speakers’ accented English make it difficult to comprehend some of their most important words, thereby hindering viewers’ understanding at crucial points. Third, the moderator’s delivery is poor and contributes very little to the presentation.

If the people who run the Vidal Sassoon Center and host these conferences want to reach people beyond their tiny, crowded, uncomfortable-looking meeting room, they need to use more than one camera, hire competent camera operators to do the taping, and edit the tapes, adding closed captioning as a matter of course. As it is, this extremely valuable content is presented so badly it cannot be recommended.