Israel’s Latest Prestige Drama Is Artistically Inept and Encourages the Worst Misconceptions about Zionist History

Aug. 11 2021

Produced by the creators of such internationally acclaimed hits as Fauda and Shtisel, the new Israeli television series The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is set in the titular city during the 1920s and 30s. Michael Oren notes in his review that the show pays little attention to the dramatic events in Mandatory Palestine during this time, which included several waves of Arab violence and the increasing anti-Jewish turn of the British colonial rulers, who were closing the doors of immigration to the Land of Israel even as the Nazis were consolidating power.

[R]emarkably, appallingly, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem makes no reference . . . whatsoever . . . to the Arab revolts, [or] to rising anti-Semitism [and] Nazism. It has more to say about halvah than the impending Holocaust. And while British officials abound throughout the series, they are overwhelmingly positive figures, free of any prejudice toward either Zionism or Jews.

Accordingly, and unsurprisingly, the only villains in The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem are Jews. And not just any Jews, but the right-wing Revisionists of the Irgun and the Leḥi [who] are portrayed as bloodthirsty and treasonous.

Some of this might be attributed to the nostalgia harbored by some Israeli leftists for the years of British rule and what they believe were its secular and fair-minded officials. . . . Similar impulses may have led the scriptwriter to underplay the widespread Arab belligerence at the time, even toward the non-Zionist communities of Hebron and Safed.

“At its worst,” writes Oren, the series “corroborates” the claim that Israel was “born of militarism, racism, and colonialism.” The Arabs fare no better, coming across as “docile or decadent stereotypes.” And perhaps worse still, Oren finds the show “melodramatic, plodding, [and] predictable.”

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More about: History of Zionism, Mandate Palestine, Television

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy