Synopsis

     ISRAELISM delves into the stories, perspectives, and ideologies of American Jews and American Jewish expatriates living in the US, Israel, and the internationally condemned settlements, as they consider what it means to be Jewish in an increasingly diverse yet nationalistic world, as they fight for their dramatically different versions of the Jewish future.

 
 

A DOCUMENTARY FROM ERIC AXELMAN AND SAM EILERTSEN

ISRAELISM

ISRAELISM

AMERICAN JEWS AND ISRAEL

(formerly known as 70 YEARS ACROSS THE SEA)

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TEAM

Eric Axelman

Co-Director, Producer

 

Sam Eilertsen

Co-Director, Director of Photography

 

 

Daniel Byers

Executive Producer

Nikolos Gonzales

Editor, Producer

 

 

Larry Gellman

Executive Producer

 

Gili Getz

Executive Producer

 

 

Loren Fulton

Composer, Sound Designer

FEATURING

Director's Statement

     Growing up, to me Israel represented Jewish hope, strength, and perseverance. Israel's story was one of Jewish redemption, and it made me proud to wear a Star of David around my neck. However, as I entered my late teens and began reading critical texts on the history of Zionism, I was shocked by what I read. Almost every aspect of the narrative I'd fallen in love with cracked. I became exposed to narratives of colonization, military occupation, and structural racism.

     For many American Jews, Israel is a constant in their lives from their very earliest memories. Their camp counselors are Israeli, they travel to Israel frequently during the summer, and maps of Israel adorn their Hebrew school classrooms. Those who challenge Israel publicly face social isolation within their Jewish communities. This entrenched emotional connection to Israel, which often creates deep political loyalty, has profound impacts on American Jewish self-perception, the future of the Israeli state, and the lives of millions of Palestinians living under unending military occupation and land seizure.

     Making this film has been painful, lonely, and exhilarating. I love being Jewish because of how truly complicated and rich our history is, and I'm fascinated by the dramatically different visions of the Jewish future that different Jewish communities are fighting for in Israel and the United States. I hope my film helps start and maintain important conversations about what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century, and where we hope to go as a people, in the US and in Israel, far across the sea.

Eric Axelman