A pagan came to Rabbi Hillel saying that he would convert to Judaism if Hillel could teach him the whole of the Torah in the time he could stand on one foot. Hillel replied, “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary. Go and study it.”
Once again the Speaker’s Action Group under the direction of Shirley Anne Haber, Executive Director, Miles Smit and a network of dedicated volunteers and co-sponsors (such as B’nai Brith) has brought us a remarkable documentary film, Body and Soul, by Gloria Greenfield. Shown at a cinema in North York, Toronto, on November 12, tickets sold out days in advance and the theater was packed.
Greenfield was on hand to take questions from the audience, which were varied and thoughtful. A reception for the audience was held after the film. There was much enthusiastic discussion and DVD copies of the film sold like hotcakes. I went home that same evening and spent many hours late into the night, thinking about the film, what it showed and what it means to me. Here are my thoughts.
It is now commonly understood that we are living in an “ahistorical period.” This does not mean that history has stopped. It means that among a growing number of college educated North Americans, it is no longer expected that an educated person must have a grasp of world history, or Western history, or American history, or the history of the ancient world, which produced that blueprint for American independence and democracy, the Old Testament. This phenomenon has been well documented and can be explored through the many publications of the Boston based National Association of Scholars (NAS).
And so people now get their history from Hollywood films, TV, magazines, newspapers and the blogosphere, from John Stewart or the Colbert Report. They become filled with pseudo history, as landfills are filled with garbage. This has allowed a disciplined and dedicated coalition of Cultural Marxists and radical Islamicists to take advantage of America’s newly minted historical amnesia. Their self-declared enemy is the Jewish people and, any supporter of the State of Israel.
Instead of empirical history based on primary sources and archaeology, these self congratulatory, self anointed, revolutionary elites now provide the masses with a new narrative, one that denies that there is an organic relationship between the Bible and English speaking democracies. At the same time, this new narrative also denies that the Jewish people have any legitimate historical, cultural, religious or political connection to the land of Israel. On the one hand the goal of this new narrative is designed to, in the eyes of the average American, destroy the legitimacy of the modern State of Israel and on the other hand, to create an invented history for an invented people, the Arabs of the Land of Israel and what is now called Jordan (Mandated Eastern Palestine).
One American Jewish filmmaker who has woken up to this problem is Bostonian, Gloria Greenfield. Recognizing that a new generation of North Americans under thirty have been relentlessly indoctrinated with this new anti-Israel historical narrative, she has put together a documentary that demonstrates the continuous Jewish tie to the land of Israel for the last three thousand years.
Greenfield has told the almost entire story of the people of Israel through filmed interviews with a collection of world experts. Each one of them has published acclaimed books and articles on all and every issue that touches upon the unbroken relationship between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
It is a tough job, and she was given just over an hour to do it. This essay is a summary outline of what she presents, with some of my own thoughts and reactions. It is not a film review where I tell you what I like or do not like. This short review essay (short in the 1960s, pre Twitter era, definition) is no substitute for the fine visuals and roster of experts that are featured in her film.
But, if it can motivate any of its readers to see the film, or even better, get their college uneducated children to see it, then I have done my duty. If then having seen the film, they start reading works by Victor Davis Hanson, Ruth Wisse, Yoram Hazony, Jonathan Sarna, Shmuel Trigano or any of the many other experts and scholars that are featured in the film, I will take all my friends out for dinner to a very expensive restaurant.
Continue reading at the Times of Israel.