The Debate that followed the screening of the 59 min version of my film EXILE A MYTH UNEARTHED on BBC 4 on November 3rd.
Dear Friends :
I am off to London on Tuesday and just wanted to put down few reminders :
1. If you want to see EXILE, the 59 min version that will be broadcast by the BBC. ( Searching for Exile ; Truth or Myth), and catch me, there is a screening on Thursday 31.10 at 18.30.
I will attend the screening ,and so will Adam Parker Commissioning Editor BBC 2&3. Q&A will follow the screening.
You can RSVP by writing to Emma D’Almeida @
2. The film ( 59 min version ) will be broadcast on BBC 4 at 21.00 followed by a debate at 22.00 . I will participate in the debate and am looking forward to it!
3. I will be showing the original long version of EXILE A MYTH UNEARTHED in Manchester on Monday November 4th. Please inquire and RSVP with Linda Clair firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope to see you in any of the events!
Hope to see you in the screening or catch up the film and the debate on TV
EXILE , A MYTH UNEARTHED has finally found a home on the BBC . The hour version of the film ( I supervised and authored the cut down) is going to be broadcast under a new title SEARCHING FOR EXILE – TRUTH OR MYTH? on BBC 4 November 3rd, at 9pm . to be followed by a debate with my participation at 10pm
There will be a press screening on Thursday October 31st at 18.30 hrs. I will attend the Q&A after the screening. From what I understand attendance is restricted to a list of invitees. Please get in touch with me if you want to attend and I see what I can do.
As you all know it has been a long journey which many of you followed. I am eternally grateful for your support!
I am happy that the film finally found a home in the United Kingdom.!
As you remember I promised to hold screenings of the long version of the film throughout Britain( schedule permitted). I will be in Manchester on Monday Nov.5 th. Please write me for details. Since this time I can not stay in the UK any longer I will try to come again if there is interest in showing and discussing the film in other cities.
Below is the billing for the press.
SEARCHING FOR EXILE – TRUTH OR MYTH?
This authored documentary by Ilan Ziv sets out to explore the historical and archaeological evidence for the Exile of the Jews after their defeat in Jerusalem at the hands of the Roman Empire, and its relevance to today.
Tracing the story of Exile from the contemporary commentator Josephus, to 1960s Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin, to the modern city of Rome and finally to the ruins of a Palestinian village, Ziv asks where the roots of this story lie and what evidence there is for it.
At the centre of the film is the ancient town of Sepphoris (on whose ruins stood the Palestinian village of Saffuriya until 1948) and the lessons its multi-layered history may have to offer.
A film by Ilan Ziv
Produced by Amit Breuer, Serge Gordey, Colette Louméde, Ilan Ziv
I fear I started a storm that by now threatens to overwhelm the very film I set out to defend.
In my last update, I already wrote that it seems that the issue of broadcasting my film Exile A Myth Unearthed by the BBC is on the way to be resolved.
This is what I wrote more than a month ago:
I had a conversation yesterday with BBC 4 executives. It was a good talk. We both agreed that we would like to see the film broadcast in the UK. We agreed to explore, by examining scripts and cuts, the possibility of showing a mutually agreeable 60 min. version of the film followed by a discussion program where others and myself will participate.
What I failed to write in that short blog is that the BBC affirmed their wish that the version that will emerge will be authored by me.
This delay of few weeks aroused suspicion and prompted some of you to write me inquiring emails.
I am almost ashamed to admit that I am the reason for the delay. I am the culprit! And to make matters worse, my excuse is lame, banal and has nothing to do with politics or the BBC. As a matter of fact the BBC commissioners and editors have prodded me to send them my version of the cut down and until now I simply did not have time. I am involved in directing a six part series, with two editing rooms now in full swing and I have not found the time. I will however do that by next week at the latest. I fear it is not much of a conspiracy theory… which brings me to the Palestine Solidarity Committee’s petition to the BBC:
Though I support many of the causes promoted by the Palestine Solidarity Committee, I must distance myself from this letter. I am not sure it helps the film that supposedly this petition aims at defending.
I believe the letter has less to do with the film and more with a larger battle within the UK about the presentation of Israelis and Palestinians on British media. I fear I know very little about the issue; too little to speak about it either privately or publically. I have not researched or explored it. I reside in the US and there is enough work to be done on this issue here!
Had the signers of the letter contacted me before publishing it, they would have found that the saga of Exile in the BBC is now on the way to being resolved and there is hardly a need for an open letter to the BBC General Director. I will be the first to sound the alarm sign if indeed the issue does not get resolved. But I wish the signers contacted me first, not only for an update. I might have convinced them that I believe that their letter, though in support of the film, does not do justice to it and to the issues it raises.
It is very tempting to squeeze Exile into neat political debate. However its exploration of how a religious myth has been transformed into a political project ,is a multilayered journey through far more complex history than the average viewer knows. Through this historical journey the film tries to go beyond contemporary political debate to show both sides that there is a different historical narrative that can be constructed rather than a nationalist one.
Let me give you an example:
The final image of the film is a large photograph of the Palestinian village of Safuri, which is blended in the film with the images of the ancient Jewish town of Sephoris, coming to life through the magic of animation. Since the 7th century, Safuri has been a bustling primarily Muslim village until it was destroyed in the 1948 war, and its residents barred from returning. The first archeological excavation of Sephoris was done in the 30’s and revealed how Safuri is the last architectural layer in a long history of almost 2000 years. That history saw various civilizations, religions and ethnic groups occupy and resettle the area. Sephoris itself though primarily Jewish in its earlier life was an increasingly multi ethnic city which , as archeology now shows us, had a large pagan community of various nationalities. Sephoris was also the home of the “followers of Christ” who were later came to be known as Christians. The old grave yard in the village contains, according to local historians, the graves of some of the prophet Muhammad’s decedents . In short Sephoris is important to the history of all three major religions and civilizations.
The narration that accompanies these images sums the film for me.
What is being unearthed in the ruins of Sephoris and Safuri is a message of hope and a warning.
The promise of hope from a town that survived for hundreds of years because of its capacity to embrace many cultures and traditions.
And a warning written in the destruction brought about by blind faith in a single narrative of history at the expense of others.
It is easy to drown this message in the heated more immediate politics of the Middle East. For many it might seem utopian, irrelevant to the reality of a continuous bloodshed and occupation.
However I believe that in the Middle East we suffer not only from a political stalemate but from an intellectual one as well. We experience a failure of imagination not only of politics. Exile, a Myth Unearthed tries to challenge our conventional understanding of history and of who we are. Not an easy task in an era of increasing nationalist political and religious polarization.
I believe that the Palestine Solidarity ‘ open letter wants to help get Exile and its message to be broadcast and discussed in the United Kingdom. I am not sure however that their petition is the best help to achieve this goal.
I am pleading with all those who supported me in the past and believe in Exile, as a tool to open, so badly needed, public debates and discussions, to let me and the BBC bring this issue to a closure. If for some reason we will fail, I will be the first one to alert all of you.
Thanks for your support!
There is some news concerning the saga of Exile in the BBC …and for a change it is positive!
I had a conversation yesterday with BBC 4 executives . It was a good talk where we both agreed that we would like to see the film broadcast in the UK. We agreed to explore ( by examining scripts and cuts ) the possibility of showing a mutually agreeable 60 min version of the film followed by a discussion program where myself and others will participate.
I will of course report here the outcome of this process of exploration. But I think both sides are committed to do their best that it happens.
As I wrote in my first blog I am determined to show the film in the UK on TV, in public screenings or both. I believe the dialog with the BBC is a positive step to achieve this goal.
Thanks to all the concerned individuals who sent me emails, and posted their comments. I was touched and encouraged by your comments . They only highlight for me the importance of showing Exile and generating a discussion and a debate on the many issues it raises.
I am travelling this weekend to China for filming for another project and we agreed that we will pick up the issue when I am back on the May 14th.
I of course will keep updating you in my blogs on what happens next.
DAILY MAIL APRIL ,29th 2013
- BBC criticised for dropping film with ‘severe ramifications’ questioning the mass exodus of Jewish people after fall of Jerusalem in AD70
- Film maker Ilan Ziv accuses the BBC of succumbing to political pressure
- Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story was due to air last Thursday
- BBC claims the documentary was axed because it ‘did not fit editorially’
- Viewers attack the Corporation for dropping the show
- Academic Dr Siam Bhayro says axing of the show is strange, given the BBC’s past record of airing controversial documentaries
By ROB COOPER
PUBLISHED: 06:30 EST, 29 April 2013 | UPDATED: 11:26 EST, 29 April 2013
The one-hour programme, Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story, was due to air on BBC4 last week but was scrapped at the last minute.
Film maker Ilan Ziv accused the BBC of ‘incompetence’ and suggested they succumbed to ‘conscious or subconscious political pressure’ after they decided not to broadcast it.
In a blog post, Mr Ziv said the decision to axe the programme was: ‘Ultimately a sad saga of what I believe is a mixture of incompetence, political naiveté, conscious or subconscious political pressure and, I believe, a lack of courage of broadcasters when they are faced with the complexity of the Middle East issue and the intense emotions, fears and aggression it generates.’
The Jews were expelled from Jerusalem following an uprising against the Romans, with hundreds of thousands killed and many more sent into exile.
After the revolt there were still pockets of Jews left living in Jerusalem, but the centre of gravity for the Jewish people shifted to the Galilee.
A Radio Times preview said the documentary, which questioned the scale of the exile, would have ‘severe ramifications for relations in the region’.
Dr Siam Bhayro, a University of Exeter senior lecturer in Early Jewish Studies, said the decision to axe the programme was ‘strange’, given the BBC’s past record of airing controversial documentaries.
And angry viewers took to the magazine’s website to accuse the corporation of ‘pandering to a small interest group.’
Pat Heath wrote: ‘Furious this has been pulled! After all the fuss last about how “Public interest Arguments” for showing flagship documentary on North Korea will be vehemently defended, but why is this quietly removed?’
And samd11 added: ‘Ridiculous pandering to a small interest group! The BBC used to ask the tough questions…..now they cower in fear due to some fundamentalist Zionists whose world vision is as warped as any other fundamentalist religious group.’
The BBC denied that the film had been dropped because it was controversial and said it ‘did not fit editorially’ with a series of historical archeology films.
However, Israeli-born Mr Ziv claimed a ‘mini political storm was brewing’ at the Corporation in the days before the documentary was due to broadcast.
He claims he was told that the programme was ‘delayed’ in going out because he had not had enough time to review the final cut of his longer 104-minute film.
ANGER FROM VIEWERS AFTER DOCUMENTARY IS AXED BY BBC
Television viewers were angry after the BBC scrapped the documentary which was one of the Radio Times’ picks of the day.
Viewers accused the Corporation of pandering to small interest groups.
They wrote on the Radio Times website:
samd11 wrote: ‘Ridiculous pandering to a small interest group! The BBC used to ask the tough questions…..now they cower in fear due to some fundamentalist Zionists whose world vision is as warped as any other fundamentalist religious group.’
Liam Loftus said: ‘I agree with these comments, it looks like this show was pulled at the last minute to please some unnamed pressure group. How come unnamed groups get to dictate who and what we watch??????’
Joseph Boulas added: ‘Andy Marr said that, when joining the BBC, one has the “organs of opinion formally removed”. Now I wonder if he got right what organs are removed…’
Pat Heath said: ‘Furious this has been pulled! After all the fuss last about how “Public interest Arguments” for showing flagship documentary on North Korea will be vehemently defended, but why is this quietly removed?’
Meg Howarth wrote: ‘The pulling of this programme reeks of censorship.’
He described the situation as: ‘A saga of well meaning programming executives who acquired the “courageous“ film they claim to love, believing that they can sneak it by with a “neutral title”.
‘When they were “caught”, rather than face the criticism and be helped by the mountains of documents and dates I was ready to send them, they panicked like deer in the headlights not knowing what to do and eventually raised their hands in resignation.’
Dr Bhayro said he was surprised that the BBC had decided to axe the show.
‘Although I have not seen the film, it would appear that the maker is not saying anything new – everyone knows that Jews continued to live in the Holy Land after AD70,’ he said.
‘But if the film maker is trying to argue that today’s Palestinians are directly descended from the first century Jewish inhabitants of Judea, then his argument is deeply flawed and far too simplistic.
‘Having said that, given their past record, it is precisely the sort of argument I would have expected the BBC to broadcast, so their decision is strange either way.
‘After all, it is not like the BBC hasn’t broadcast documentaries showing controversial points of view before.
‘Indeed, it often seems like, to get a documentary on the BBC, you have to be saying something a bit bizarre or controversial – they are not really interested in the more solid, mundane or rigorous aspects of scholarship.’
A Radio Times review of the programme said ‘archeology is politics in the Middle East’.
The reviewer added: ‘The precarious balance of Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites in the ancient heart of Jerusalem is informed as much by what’s below ground as what’s above.
‘Which is why evidence revealed here, suggesting that the Jewish exile from Jerusalem in AD 70 may never have actually happened, has such severe ramifications for relations in the region.’
The BBC showed a repeat of a documentary about Egyptologist Flinders Petrie last Thursday evening instead.
A spokesman for the BBC today said they may show Mr Ziv’s programme in the future.
‘We originally acquired Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story to supplement BBC Four’s season exploring the history of archaeology,’ he said.
‘However, it was decided that it did not fit editorially so we did not show the programme as part of the season. Any future transmissions are under review.’
JEWS EXILED AFTER A FAILED UPRISING AGAINST THE ROMANS IN AD70
ANALYSIS by Dr Siam Bhayro, Senior Lecturer in Early Jewish Studies, Exeter University
The ‘First Jewish War’ was a Jewish revolt against Roman rule in the Holy Land. It lasted around four years from AD66 to AD70, culminating with the conquest of Jerusalem and destruction of the Second Temple.
Initially, the Romans suffered incredible losses, among the most costly the Empire ever experienced, which explains the level of retribution they meted out.
It is estimated that Roman losses were at least 20,000, while Jewish losses numbered in the hundreds of thousands, with many more sold into slavery.
After this war, the centre of gravity for the Jewish nation moved steadily further away from Jerusalem, ending up to the north in the Galilee.
The historicity of these events is not disputed and is agreed upon by the three main monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The theological interpretations of these events may differ, but there’s no argument about the events themselves.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2316492/BBC-criticised-dropping-film-severe-ramifications-questioning-mass-exodus-Jewish-people-fall-Jerusalem-AD70.html#ixzz2RtgDUQhq
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Ilan Ziv, the Israeli-born documentary maker behind Jerusalem: an Archaeological Mystery Story, which questions the scale of the exodus of the Jewish people from Jerusalem in AD70, also said the official reason given by the BBC for pulling it from the schedules contradicts the one made to him in private.
“This is ultimately a sad saga of what I believe is a mixture of incompetence, political naiveté, conscious or subconscious political pressure and ultimately, I believe, a lack of courage of broadcasters when they are faced with the complexity of the Middle East issue and the intense emotions, fears and aggression it generates,” Ziv wrote on his blog.
He also accused the BBC of trying to “camouflage” the real content of the documentary by changing its title and of secretly planning with one of the film’s co-producers to remove Ziv’s name from the programme and to present it as an “adaptation” of his work.
The film was due to go out last Thursday as part of a BBC4 season on archaeology but was replaced at the last minute by a repeat of a documentary about Egyptologist Flinders Petrie.
The BBC denied it had been dropped because it was too controversial, saying it had done so because the film did “not fit editorially” with the tone of the season.
In a lengthy blogpost, Ziv said he believed the BBC dropped the documentary because they were afraid of his research, which was backed by a “detailed and substantial defence” and reviewed by “academics” and “reputable scholars” who did not find any factual errors or misrepresentations.
He said the film has nothing to do with the present conflict in the Middle East and has been screened elsewhere with little controversy, calling on the BBC to “rise above the hysteria and the attempts at self censorship”.
Ziv claimed an unnamed freelance hired by the BBC to reversion the film had called it “propaganda” and another had claimed it would “prop up the myth of exile ‘which we all know did not happen'”.
The BBC said it acquired Jerusalem: an Archaeological Mystery Story to supplement a BBC4 season exploring the history of archaeology. “However, it was decided that it did not fit editorially so we did not show the programme as part of the season,” the corporation said in a statement.
Ziv said the BBC acquired the documentary months ago but contacted him “barely a week before [the planned broadcast]” asking for his comments about a new cut of the film. He added that the corporation’s official version of events did not make sense.
“The BBC have had the film for almost six months. So why was this sudden rush which supposedly was the excuse given to me as to why the film was pulled out. Why was I contacted so late in the game? And why was there a discrepancy between what was told to me and the ‘official version’,” Ziv said.
“I discovered only 3 days before the broadcast that the BBC has been using a different name for the film: Jerusalem – An Archeological Mystery Story. It struck me as an odd choice that seems to camouflage the film’s real subject and repackages it as a neutral archeological mystery of sorts – like the hundreds of hours one can see on cable and satellite channels throughout the world.”.
“When I was given only a few days before a broadcast date that no one bothered to inform me about, I pleaded for more time. It was only when one of the programming executives called me, I realised that there were much bigger issues for her than my complaint about being pushed into an impossible schedule,” he said.