This week Tzion debuted its first short film. Screened for the first time at the Association for Israel Studies conference held at Brandeis, the film deals with the important and complicated subject of the 1967 war between Israel and its neighbors and the consequences of that conflict. Why is Tzion going into the short film business?
Several reasons come to mind, having to do with who we are and the way we live. There are lots of visual learners out there. Who doesn't love movies? There are lots of us with limited attention spans, either because of the way our brain works, or because of the way we live and work. We'll make time to watch a video of five to ten minutes, but not much more than that. On the treadmill, commuting to work, at a quick break from work, whenever.
Probably most importantly of all, short films can do many of the most important aspects of creating a learning space for us. They can train us to learn a skill, but they can do much more than that. They provide information (Who fought in the war?) and understanding (What was the war really about?). They display cognitive perspective (What was the context for Israel feeling itself to be in an existential threat from its neighbors's behavior?) and invite us to form our own critical perspective in response (How do we assess Israel's war aims vis a vis the consequences of the war).
Education in other words is active not inert: we don't just passively watch a movie. We don't just garner some information. We confront our principles (Is war right or wrong? What makes a war just?) and we critically probe them. History is full of instances that involved moral consequences and invite us to think about our own moral principles as well as trying to understand the worldviews of historical actors.
My goal is to create an entire curriculum/library of short films on the history and ideas of Zionism and Israel and put this library online for anyone to use. They will give us needed information and context and more importantly wrestle with key questions of understanding the subject and inviting us to think about what that subject means for us.
I chose the Six Day War to be the first Tzion short film because we just now lived through the fiftieth anniversary of that time. After the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 most would argue that 1967 is the most important event in Israel's history. It's dramatic and consequential and filled with interesting characters and tantalizing choices and what might have beens.
I hope you enjoy it and learn from it. I welcome your feedback.