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Israel's Bet on Audiovisual Culture as Soft Power

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For decades, hard economic and military power has not resolved Israel’s problems with its neighbors and with the Arabs living inside the country. The September 1993 handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, with U.S. President Bill Clinton in between, was the result of a long-running soft power effort by diplomats around the world. did. Nor did he bring peace to the two regions.

Now, Israel’s newest soft power tool is audiovisual culture, especially television programming. The main goal may not just be peace or profit for the country’s production companies. In the long term, these productions are expected to captivate the hearts of people around the world who watch these shows on streaming services, and to generate positive perceptions of the Israeli story on several issues presented in the series. is made.

The most important ingredients for making the country’s audiovisual product a tool of soft power are abundant in Israel today. We have enough money and international co-production deals to create high quality TV shows full of special effects, different locations, talented writers, directors and stars. of interesting true stories take place, prompting the writers to provide articles on religion, politics, sex, culture, corruption, violence, prejudice, social injustice, and more. And most importantly, Israel is a democracy with free speech. It is an essential tool for reaching out to issues of their own failures and regrets and advocating for compelling audiovisual art and entertainment production.

The Story of Israeli Television’s Success

HBO’s psychotherapeutic drama started Israel’s audiovisual boom Bettypur (2005-2008) and produced the HBO adaptation “In Treatment” (2008), which won two Primetime Emmy Awards.Gideon Raf prisoner of war (2009-2012) was adapted in Hollywood as “Homeland” (2011-2020) and won eight Primetime Emmy Awards. But Hollywood winning more awards than the original story is just the tip of the iceberg. A new trend in the soft power of Israeli audiovisual culture is Hebrew and Arabic-speaking TV shows filmed in the Middle East and distributed worldwide by streaming giants such as Nefflix, HBO Max and AppleTV+. The international success of original works and success at festivals makes it easy for Israel to shape a world taste for stories that govern story content, morality, and, of course, profit.

The first non-English TV show on AppleTV+ — Emmy International Award winner Tehran’ (2021) — is spoken in Hebrew and Arabic.Considered new motherland Among the TV programs, Hollywood star Glenn Close has a special participation. Last year he had an explosive season 2 finale in late June, after which fans are demanding a renewal for season 3. The story follows a Mossad agent as he carries out his first mission as a hacker in Tehran.

With plenty of political commentary in mind-boggling scenes of car chases, explosions and betrayals, the show also focuses on Iran’s ‘fictional’ underground life. There, women drink, have free sex, and young people, including the son of Iran’s most powerful general. Iran, drug and alcohol party.

Ori Elon’s show “Shtisel” (2013-2021) became an international hit on Netflix using another strategy designed to strengthen Israel’s cultural soft power. Its brilliant script follows the lives of teacher Shrem Štisel (Dvare Glickman) and son Akiva (Michael Aroni) as they discuss moral issues such as arranged marriages, pride, feminism, and religion, thereby enhancing religious orthodoxy. try to explain clearly.In a style that combines the influence of this is us When Downton Abbey‘, ‘Shtisel’ has caused a great deal of discussion on the Internet, not just about Jews, but about Christianity and Islamic fundamentalism. friend When grace and frankieis currently developing an American version of Amazon Prime.

Much like Hollywood, the new wave of Israeli television programming is not just targeting Israeli cultural idiosyncrasies. They are trying to conquer the world thanks to stories with universal themes.One of them is a psychological thriller. lost alice (2021) premiered on Israeli channel Hot 3 in June 2020 and internationally on Apple TV+ in January 2021. The series follows Alice, a frustrated film director, mother of three daughters, and tracks her obsession with Sophie, a young screenwriter. Alice is played by Israeli Ayelet Zurer. Angels and Demons When Munich.

Israeli TV drama lesson It took part in the 2022 edition of the prestigious TV Series Festival in Berlin and won two awards at the Cannes Series Long Form Competition. Co-star Doron Ben David (Fauda), it tells the story of a high school teacher’s confrontation with a student over racism following a social media post.

Collateral damage of soft power

Controlling the story means owning the moral of the story. But even when talented screenwriters try to make it as realistic as possible, collateral damage is almost certain. Mega hit TV shows like Netflix spy (2019), Fauda (2015) and hit run (2021) Clearly Celebrating Israel’s Invincible Secret Service and Its Technology, Showing that Ordinary Israelis Employed by the Mossad or the Israeli Air Force Become Effective Agents to Infiltrate and Capture Even the Most Difficult Adversaries Message. HBO valley of tears (2020) goes further by transforming the arrogance of the Israeli military in the opening moments of the Fourth Middle East War into a holistic lesson for overcoming adversity.

Another collateral damage to soft power occurs when citizens of their own country reject the show’s point of view. HBO-Keschet co-production Our Boys (2019) was called “anti-Semitic” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who prompted a boycott of the production. The show emphasized the death of a Palestinian boy, not an Israeli victim, who contributed to the 2014 Gaza conflict. While the producers attempted to show the violence caused by three ultra-Orthodox Jews from the perspective of a Palestinian boy’s family, Jewish audiences in Israel and around the world were left wondering if the series was caused by Hamas. He complained that he was leaving his death in the background.

Last but not least, the collateral damage to soft power is competition. Everyone wants to claim some of the consequences of the increasing influence of cultural soft power on the world population. Producing an entire season of a TV show is usually more expensive than producing a movie. Palestine tells the story told in the film with the help of streaming services like Netflix. Palestinian storyReleased last October by the streaming giant, is a collection of 32 award-winning films directed by Palestinian filmmakers or telling Palestinian stories. Most of them concern Palestinian life in the West Bank and Gaza occupied by Israel since 1967. But there’s also his one TV show that’s meant to compete with the Israeli story.after seeing FaudaPalestinian director Mohammed Soraya is producing his own version of Conflict at a television studio in Gaza.
Kabdat Al Ahlar (Fist of the Free) revisits the 2018 Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip that resulted in the deaths of seven Hamas fighters and one Israeli officer. It is a modest, low-budget production, with low salaries for artists and crew. The Israeli characters speak only Arabic and, at the request of the Mufti Hamas, women wear headscarves even in the Jewish ingredients to turn Kabdat Al Ahlar Become a propaganda preaching to their own choir, not a tool of soft power to the world.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Fair Observer.