“EXILE” IN LONDON : A screening on Thursday 31st. of October at 18.30; a broadcast Sunday at 21.00 on BBC4


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   lindaclair@btinternet.com

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.


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



Dear Friends:

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:

“  BBC Director General faces claims that political pressure led BBC to drop film on Jewish Exile”.

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.

Stay tuned!

BBC criticised for dropping film with ‘severe ramifications’ questioning the mass exodus of Jewish people after fall of Jerusalem in AD70



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


PUBLISHED: 06:30 EST, 29 April 2013 | UPDATED: 11:26 EST, 29 April 2013

'Political pressure': Ilan Ziv, who accused the BBC of 'incompetence' after they failed to show his documentary‘The BBC has been accused of ‘political naiveté’ after dropping a controversial documentary which called into question the mass exile of Jewish people from Jerusalem in AD70 after their failed uprising against the Romans.

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.’


Controversial documentary: Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story questioned whether the Jewish exile from Jerusalem in AD70 ever happenedControversial documentary: Jerusalem: An Archaeological Mystery Story questioned whether the Jewish exile from Jerusalem in AD70 ever happened

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.


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.’

Blog post: Ilan Ziv accused the BBC of 'incompetence' and suggested they succumbed 'conscious or subconscious political pressure' in this post after they axed his documentary Blog post: Ilan Ziv accused the BBC of ‘incompetence’ and suggested they succumbed ‘conscious or subconscious political pressure’ in this post after they axed his documentary

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.’


ANALYSIS by Dr Siam Bhayro, Senior Lecturer in Early Jewish Studies, Exeter University

The Destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD Engraving by Louis Haghe after a Painting by David RobertsJewish exodus: Painting of the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD by David Roberts

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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