A Television Series about the Yom Kippur War Fails to Tell the Israeli Side of the Story

Dec. 11 2020

This week the first season of the Israeli series Vale of Tears, which follows IDF soldiers fighting in the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War, came to an end. Jonathan Spyer liked much about the show, but notes a disturbing failure:

[I]t is frustrating once more to see Israeli society and military culture portrayed very clearly through a kind of post-Zionist and leftist lens. Not because I want to see nationalist propaganda on screen (I very much don’t), but simply because this [perspective] deliberately omits a salient element of the Israeli-Jewish experience—[that of the segment of Israeli society motivated] by a sense of Jewish national rights, Jewish tradition, and [a belief in] the rightness of Israel’s cause vis-à-vis the Arab effort to destroy it.

This [set of beliefs] stands at the center of Israeli Jewish society, and is reflected in its voting patterns, much of its cultural product and consumption, its levels of religious and traditional observance, and so forth. This is the side of Israeli society that, despite the renaissance of Israeli cinema and TV drama in recent years, rarely makes it to the screen, and even more rarely makes it to international audiences, but understanding of which is crucial to understanding the country and its decisions and directions.

A considerable part of [Vale of Tears] was concerned with social and political discussion. In this area, we had a very large helping of the far-left, anti-Zionist critique of Israel, and even a scene where an articulate and serious character enunciates the Arab nationalist case against Zionism and Israel. There was not one sentence, however, in which the case for Jewish national rights and sovereignty in Israel was made. This is a rather odd and disappointing state of affairs. Its main deleterious effect, I think, is that it results in a lurid . . . and distorted picture of Israeli society being presented both to the domestic audience and, no less importantly, to international viewers.

Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: IDF, Israeli society, Television, Yom Kippur War


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy