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

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.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: History of Zionism, Mandate Palestine, Television

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7