For young American Jews, it’s a long way from ‘Exodus’ to the separation wall.
In 1960, the film “Exodus” was nominated for three Academy Awards. Based on Leon Uris’ novel about the founding of Israel, it seems hard to believe that such a film, drenched in Jewish military heroism and suffused with Holocaust imagery and Arab aggression, could have such broad and unambiguous appeal. But it did. It not only won an Oscar, it also starred a Hollywood icon, Paul Newman, as the heroic Jewish fighter, and even made a commendable showing at Cannes.
But almost a half-century later, a very different film about Israel won an Oscar nomination. “Waltz With Bashir,” (2008) directed by the Israeli Ari Folman, put a spotlight on the massacres at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps during the first Lebanon War.
On the eve of Yom Kippur, a dispute between two groups of Jews leads to a divider being placed at Judaism’s holiest accessible site, the western retaining wall of Herod’s Second Temple.
But Muslim sheiks, who “own” the Wall, demand the divider be removed, calling it an unacceptable alteration to their site. They suspect that the Jews are trying to find a way to give the Wall the status of a synagogue “as a first step in taking it over.”
In medieval times in the Middle East, translators in synagogues would render the reading of the weekly Torah portion from Hebrew into the vernacular Arabic or Aramaic.
Something similar took place in Manhattan this week.