amnon lipkin-shahak .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In an attempt to combat what it calls a "smear campaign" against US presidential candidate Barack Obama, a new YouTube group called Israelis4Obama has released an on-line video describing the Democratic senator as "100% kosher," and calling it "hutzpa to question Obama's commitment to Israel."
Former IDF chief of General Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Israeli film star Moshe Ivgy and Jesse Dylan, son of music legend Bob, are just some of the well-known Israeli and American figures involved in the video, which was shot in Israel in July and added to YouTube last week. Filmed over three days in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the video features both Israeli supporters of Obama and Americans who will vote for the candidate from Israel.
"I was sitting [in the US] and felt that the Israel I know was never shown on the news," said Alma Har'el, the video's Israeli director. "I know a lot of Israelis who support Obama. There's a certain tone in Israel that's never shown in the US - people who are sick of the situation and don't think another Bush is the answer."
Portrayals of Israeli views on Obama as "monolithic" prompted the video's creation, said Israeli-American filmmaker Boaz Yakin, Har'el's husband and the director of Hollywood productions including the Denzel Washington drama Remember the Titans.
"The thing that's most important to us is that the video shows diversity of opinion from Israel," Yakin said. "Some people might say we're trying to show everyone in Israel in a certain way, but it's the opposite. The film is not to show that everyone wants Obama, but that not everyone is oriented in just one way."
The concept for the video, titled simply "Israelis for Obama," was initially publicized in a mass e-mail to Har'el's Israeli friends and colleagues, she said. In addition to Ivgy and Lipkin-Shahak, other Israelis appearing in the all-English clip include You Don't Mess with the Zohan actor Ido Mosseri, former Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee member Naomi Chazan and Avraham Yakin, an artist and veteran of the Hagana.
"I think Obama is something different," Ivgy said of his reasons for appearing in the film. "It is not that we are joining the campaign for Obama. We just want to show different Israelis - not Israel, but Israelis who are for what he believes in."
Americans involved the project include the producer Lawrence Bender, a two-time Oscar nominee for films including Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting, and Dylan, who served as an adviser on the film.
Dylan, who previously shot the pro-Obama celebrity music video "Yes We Can," described himself as a "big, big, giant supporter of Israel," and said he'd wanted to get involved in the project as soon as he heard about it.
"My family's supported Israel as long as I've been alive, and I think Obama will be a big supporter of Israel in office," said Dylan, who celebrated his bar mitzva at the Western Wall. "I hope Alma's film gets people off the fence."
THOUGH THE clip was financed and produced independently, its creators hope it will become part of efforts to debunk on-line rumors and distortions about Obama's religion and views on the Middle East.
Obama's more extreme opponents "decided to make him a Muslim, which he isn't," Ivgy said. "Even if he was a Muslim, it doesn't necessarily matter, but he's not. They try to put fear into people about this man, like he's dangerous for [Israelis]."
Echoing comments made in "Israelis for Obama" by Lipkin-Shahak, Ivgy went on. "He's got a commitment to Israel - I don't think he will ever desert Israel. And I believe he's a better person for the world."
The Jewish Alliance for Change, a group that has distributed informational DVDs about Obama in the US, was involved in the production of the new clip, and Har'el said the film may get used in The Great Schlep, an organized October trip in which hundreds of younger American Jews will travel to Florida to persuade their grandparents and other retired voters to cast their ballots for the Democrat.
While some of those voters may still need convincing, Har'el said many Israelis did not.
"A lot of Israelis have been very impressed with Obama's reactions to problems in the area," she said. "Being from Israel, I know how complex the situation is. I want their voices to be heard."
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