Ultra-Orthodox Women’s Films and Their Audience

Many of Israel’s ḥaredi communities frown on television, the Internet, and moviegoing, but even some of the most strictly observant make an exception for a relatively new cinematic genre: movies made by ḥaredi women, shown to exclusively female audiences, featuring all-female casts. To a certain brand of secular feminist filmmaker, this might sound like a utopia, but that is far from the intention of the filmmakers or the taste of their audiences. Moreover, these movies are commercial successes within their circumscribed audiences: tickets sell out almost immediately for most new releases. Diana Bahur Nir writes:

Z’khut ha-Shtikah, Hebrew for the right to remain silent, [was released in December] by the female ḥaredi filmmaker Dina Perlstein. The movie, described in the brochure as a “riveting and groundbreaking drama,” has been granted rabbinic approval. Shot in Israel and France, it follows the story of a French journalist who arrives in Israel on assignment and builds tight bonds with a family she was sent to cover. That is—with the women of the family.

Ḥaredi movies promote values that are compatible with the principles of Orthodox Judaism: respecting one’s parents, living morally, and sanctifying life. Some of these movies focus on Jewish identity and the connection to God as central themes.

Ḥaredi cinema has been around for a decade and a half, and it is evolving [constantly]. The change is evident in the topics it deals with, in the production quality, and in the boundaries it is willing to cross. Tsila Schneider is a founding mother of the genre. She is fifty-nine, a mother of eleven, and the wife of a rabbi who lives in Jerusalem. . . . Her first films, Fingerprint (2004) and Where Will I Go (2008), reflect an industry in its youth, but they carved out a path for the more mature, better-produced films that came after. Since then, Schneider has evolved and perhaps gone on to stretch the boundaries farther than her counterparts.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: Film, Judaism in Israel, Ultra-Orthodox

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy