Saturday, January 10, 2015

10-Jan-15: An unusually sharp Israeli look from within at Europe's Moslem communities

Starting at the 1h17m05s mark, Zvi Yehezkeli
visits the Charlie Hebdo offices and speaks with the editor
and his colleagues
In August 2014, we published a blog post here about a television documentary in four parts that was about to go to air on Israel's Channel 10. It's an incisive and, in some ways, quite unique documentary series that looks closely - from right inside - at some aspects of Europe's Islamic communities. Here is a reprise of what we said then. (We also wrote about it in September and 
October 2012 when it first appeared on Israeli screens.)

The series is called "Allah Islam" in Hebrew, and "Muslims in Europe" in the English-sub-titles version. It is a collaboration between Israeli film director and journalist David Deri, and Zvi Yehezkeli who is Israeli Channel 10's senior news reporter on Arab affairs. 

Made principally for an Israeli audience, the narration and subtitles are in Hebrew. So is the general viewpoint; the makers are clearly addressing an Israeli audience and examining concerns that Israelis have about Europe. Don't be put off by the thought that this is an examination of Israel-specific issues. Mostly, it's not. 

As we wrote two years ago, the series deals in an extremely effective way with the mutual interaction of European society and a very particular immigrant group. Our sense is that as important as this issue is for many, and especially for Europeans, it gets too much of the wrong sort of attention.

The fact that Yehezkeli, a fluent speaker of Palestinian-accented Arabic, succeeds in passing himself of as a non-Jewish Palestinian Arab is key to its success, and we think to its uniqueness. We cannot imagine a made-in-USA documentary that could penetrate as deeply and cleverly into the very loaded subject matter.

Final scene in the series was filmed in Malmo, Sweden
To be sure, it does not pretend to take an encyclopaedic view, preferring to focus on the challenges thrown up by the interaction - and to a great extent the clash - between Europe's liberal outlook and those of the large Moslem migrant communities in the UK, Netherlands, France, Belgium and Sweden. Yes, terrorism is examined but so too are many other dimensions of this complex matter.

An English-subtitled version, blending all four parts into a single file of nearly 3 hours, can be viewed online via YouTube. The searing events in Paris of the past three days are echoed in a brief segment where Yehezkeli visits the editorial offices of the Charlie Hebdo in Paris and interviews Stéphane Charbonnier who was murdered this past Wednesday.

The four separate original parts and their titles:
Part 1: Isolation [from the start] [Hebrew-only version here 
Part 2: Sharia law or State law [starts at 0:44:02] [Hebrew-only version here] 
Part 3: Terror [starts at 1:23:23] [Hebrew-only version here] 
Part 4: Europe's Jews [starts at 2:06:55] [Hebrew-only version here]
Even before this week's violence in Paris, we would have given the experience of viewing this our highest recommendation. Today, it's more important than that.

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