One of the ugliest aspects of the movement to delegitimize the State of Israel is the denial of the deep historical and religious connections of Judaism and the Jewish people to the Holy Land – a denial that also seems to be at the root of the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the nation-state of the Jewish people. The late Palestinian Authority (PA) president Yasser Arafat, for example, rejected the historical existence of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, a deceit that seems to remain as PA policy.
American filmmaker Gloria Greenfield has responded brilliantly to this effort at delegitimization with Body and Soul: The State of the Jewish Nation, a documentary in which 36 talking heads – including academic, religious and legal experts – explain the ongoing centrality of the Land of Israel, and of Jerusalem, to Judaism and the Jewish people, the constant presence of Jewish people there from ancient biblical times to the present, and the legal case for the modern state.
Earlier this month, I attended the Canadian premiere of Body and Soul, presented by the Free Thinking Film Society at the Library and Archives Canada auditorium – an evening that also included a question-and-answer period with Greenfield and Rabbi Reuven Bulka.
Although there is little in Body and Soul that will surprise anyone who has studied Jewish history seriously, the commentaries are fascinating. Among those interviewed in the film are such religious experts as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, and Rabbi Jeffrey Woolf, an authority on the relationships between Judaism, Christianity and Islam; renowned academics, including historian Jonathan Sarna of Brandeis University and Robert S. Wistrich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, probably the world’s leading expert on anti-Semitism; and legal experts, including MP Irwin Cotler, a former minister of justice of Canada, renowned Harvard professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, and Alan Baker, a former Israeli ambassador to Canada.
The evidence these and the other experts in the film cite – including religious texts, archeology and historical records – is compelling, and Greenfield has woven all of the various strands and commentaries together beautifully in the 65-minute presentation. This is a film I strongly encourage all in the community to see at the earliest opportunity. It seems to me this is a film that should be shown at schools, synagogues and community centres. It is also available on DVD. Visit www.bodyandsoulthemovie.com for more information about the film and to view the trailer.
Mazel tov, Harvey Glatt!
As some know, I have long been active in the Canadian folk music scene. So, it is with a great deal of pleasure that I extend a hearty mazel tov to community member Harvey Glatt, who will receive the Unsung Hero Award at the 2014 Canadian Folk Music Awards ceremony on Saturday night, November 29. The annual event moves from city to city and region to region around the country and takes place this year at the Bronson Centre in Ottawa.
The Unsung Hero Award is presented in recognition of “the exceptional contribution of an individual, group or organization to any aspect of the Canadian folk music scene.”
That Ottawa, today, boasts one of the most active folk music scenes in Canada is, in many ways, due to Harvey’s pioneering efforts as a concert producer, artist manager, record store owner and radio station owner. For many decades, he, along with his wife Louise, has been one of Ottawa’s most important and influential patrons of the arts. Their patronage, I would add, is equally significant in the folk, classical and jazz worlds, and in the theatre scene, too.
There are three major awards of this type on the Canadian folk scene, and, with the Unsung Hero Award, Harvey will have received all three. Just last month, he received Folk Music Ontario’s Estelle Klein Award, which is presented annually for “significant contributions to Ontario’s folk music community,” and he was the 2010 recipient of the Ottawa Folk Festival’s Helen Verger Award, which is presented annually to “an individual who has made significant, sustained contributions to folk/roots music in Canada.”