History and TV, what could be better?




Little known fact about Israel:  Sometimes it’s colder inside than outside.  Yesterday, it was just more pleasant to sit outside.

This week was horrible and violent.  I don’t want to rehash it all here.  Instead, we’ll dial down the intensity and cover a moment in history and look at Dig, a television series that was partially filmed in Jerusalem.

Remember, remember the 29th of November

This week Israel noted the 29th of November.  Quite a few Israelis don’t know why this is a date of note nor why streets are named after it.  It’s one of those dates that gets lost in all the important national and religious dates throughout the year.  What happened, you ask?  Good question.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed Resolution 181, which recommended that the land of British Mandatory Palestine be divided into two states.  It required that both the Jews and the Arabs agree.  The Jews agreed and the Arabs didn’t.

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Resolution 181 didn’t create the State of Israel, but it recognized the need for a Jewish homeland and it was sort-of an exit strategy for the British who planned to get out of Palestine in May 1948.  When May 1948 rolled around and the British left, instead of two states co-existing, five Arab states declared war on the provisional government of Israel.

The importance of the resolution today is to remind the world that Israel has a recognized right to exist.  Israel is not a colonial power or a foreign apartheid regime.  The world recognized that the people of Israel – the Jews – have a connection to this land.  It’s not that only that they need a shelter from potential Holocausts in the future, but that this specific land is the Jews’ ancestral homeland.


Picture this:  Every Jewish conspiracy theory, rumor, and apocalyptical end-of-days theory crammed into 10 episodes and it was filmed in Jerusalem.  I liked it.  I enjoyed watching it.  (However, in the interest of full disclosure, my Israel family hated it and said it was embarrassing.)

The Israeli creator of Homeland got together with the creator of Heroes and they made some incredible television fiction.  Then they cast one of the baddies from Harry Potter as the lead (Jason Isaacs, or Lucius Malfoy) and used a bunch of Israeli actors speaking Hebrew in the streets of Jerusalem and in other locations and took us on a wild ride.

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The story weaves together a radical Jewish group that wants to rebuild the Temple (obviously on the site of the Temple Mount), but they need a few things, along with some signs and wonders to ensure their success.  They are cooperating with some messianic Christians, who have their special role to play.  Meanwhile, FBI agent Peter Connelly, our underdog anti-hero who is spiritually broken (Jason Isaacs), tries to solve the murder of an American citizen.  He is helped by an Israeli policeman, Golan Cohen, who, just to make things complicated, is gay.  Throw in the Essenes (Dead Sea Scrolls) who have been hidden for the past 2,000 years and the lost treasures of the Second Temple. And then toss in a touch of Jerusalem Syndrome (a real affliction where spiritual pilgrims come to Jerusalem and suddenly believe that they are biblical figures for a while) and the blood moon.

The series was filmed in Jerusalem last summer and due to the little war we had, they finished filming in Croatia.  There is one scene where they say “Oh, that’s Mishkenot She’ananim” and show a building in Croatia.  I leaped up and shouted at the screen, “No it isn’t!”

There is also the cultural hilarity.  Anyone who has ever driven in the streets of Israel knows that people honk their horns all the time. It’s a kind of noisy communication among drivers expressing a variety of emotions.  So when Peter gets in the car with Golan, Golan is always smoking and honking his horn at everyone.  Peter doesn’t like the smoke (Golan doesn’t care) and his answer to why he honks the horn all the time is “It’s relaxing! You should try it!”

I enjoy a good murder mystery (fictional, of course) and I love a good conspiracy theory.  Of course the show was a little silly and over the top.  It’s not a documentary, for heaven’s sakes.  But I have to say, with all the problems on the Temple Mount these days, the various end of days theories going around, especially lately, and all the violence in the world, I certainly hope that fiction in this case is stranger than truth.