A film aiming to change Israel’s image around the world will premiere on Independence Day, Israel’s 64th birthday, in 64 communities worldwide, the film’s producers announced at a Jerusalem press conference this week.
The film aims to follow up on the success of Start-Up Nation, the best-selling book by Dan Senor and former Jerusalem Post editorial editor Saul Singer, which has been translated into Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Turkish.
Titled Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference, the 55-minute documentary attempts to portray an often unreported side of Israel to the world. The film is narrated by Dr. Tal Ben- Shahar, a best-selling author and former Harvard professor who taught a popular Harvard course on positive psychology.
In the film, Ben-Shahar examines the core character strengths that have enabled Israelis to overcome challenges and turn a desert into a flourishing nation. It focuses on Israel beyond conflict and national security, themes most often associated with the country’s identity.
“By shifting the conversation and highlighting the strength and resilience of the Jewish people in the face of adversity, there is a hope that it may help in dealing with the conflict,” Ben-Shahar said.
At the press conference he said the film was about addressing misconceptions many people have about the Jewish state.
“While I think about Israel as a country characterized by technology, and prosperity, they think about camels, war, felafel,” he said. “The film is about changing the conversation and changing that idea. We have a lot to celebrate as a nation, so the film was made to highlight those aspects and to change the focus people have about the country.”
Ben-Shahar is joined onscreen by Harvard Prof. Alan Dershowitz and leading Israeli entrepreneurs, businessmen and political figures, including Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Better Place’s Shai Agassi, venture capitalist Jonathan Medved, and Teva’s Eli Hurvitz who died in November.
Raphael Shore of JerusalemOnlineU, an online portal for Israel and Jewish distance learning that utilizes film-based education programs, produced the film. Shore wrote and produced the documentary films on radical Islam and the Middle East.
Shore’s wife, Rebecca, was the head writer for Israel Inside.
“The film aims to take ‘Start-Up Nation’ further and delve deeper into the essence of what makes Israelis on an individual level do what we do to thrive,” Rebecca Shore said.