Body and Soul of the Jewish Nation | A Movie Review

 Body and Soul – The State of the Jewish NationDirected by Gloria Z. GreenfieldBy NEW YORK TIMES

“Body and Soul: The State of the Jewish Nation” is a concise, skillful recounting of the story of the Jewish people and their connection to the land of Israel. While it tends to conflate Judaism with Zionism — a position not all Jews agree with — the film is straightforward in presenting the historical record.

The director, Gloria Z. Greenfield, keeps a swift pace: In 64 minutes, archaeologists, historians, diplomats, lawyers and religious leaders — among them, Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Britain; the historian Benny Morris; and the author and law professor Alan Dershowitz — narrate a 3,000-year saga of residency, exile and return. Featuring contemporaneous documents and artifacts from ancient days through the Middle Ages to modern times, the film is as cogent as it is inspiring.

In publicity materials, Ms. Greenfield, whose earlier films include “Unmasked Judeophobia,” says she made this documentary as pushback against efforts to “delegitimize Israel” and “propaganda, myths and misinformation that have been accepted by so many.” Yet in a departure from its otherwise rigorous scholarship, “Body and Soul” opts not to deeply analyze denialist claims beyond contending that a current wave of revisionism started with Yasir Arafat and showing two short clips of Arab historians denying Jews’ legacy in the land.

Presumably Ms. Greenfield sees no point in giving a soapbox to anti-Zionists. A pity: To refute something, you must first identify it. In its campaign to educate, and win hearts and minds, “Body and Soul” does itself no favors by getting fuzzy.

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