Israel and the nuclear movie option


A fictional video posted to YouTube imagines what a Iranian nuclear attack against Israel might look like.
Ronen Barany, a video editor for Israel’s Channel 2 News, independently directed the short film "HaYom Ha-Acharon" [The Last Day]. Produced on "zero budget" with a mostly amateur cast of friends and family, Barany explained his motivations in a letter (in Hebrew) posted on Channel 2’s website:  

I am a father of 2 children and grandson of Holocaust survivors, who hears at least twice a week how world leaders seek to wipe us off the map. In a world where fear of nuclear weapons is common property, not only belonging to Israel, I decided I wanted to convey the sense of existential fear that we all share. This is why I am convinced and happy that everyone has his own interpretation – from all sides of the political divide, when most respondents were completely in favor and gave me a sense that I touched on topic that is painful but invited.

Other films have exercised the "nuclear option" before.

Amid Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union, the made-for-TV movie "The Day After" aired on Nov. 20, 1983, depicting a large-scale nuclear strike against Kansas and Western Missouri. The movie starred many relatively unknown actors at the time, including Steve Gutenberg and John Lithgow.

The UAHC used the film as an educational opportunity:

To alert the Jewish community to "the increasing danger of nuclear war and the proliferating nuclear arms race," the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) this week launched a series of educational meetings at Reform synagogues across the country.

The first program took place last Sunday night at Temple Beth El in Great Neck, L.I., immediately following the show of the ABC-TV drama "The Day After," which was seen by some 200 members of the congregation in the synagogue.

"It is fitting that we viewed this dramatization of the catastrophe of nuclear war here in a synagogue, a house of God," said Rabbi Jerome Davidson, senior rabbi of Beth El.

"This film has made clear there is little time for making that choice. Now is the time to reverse the arms race and support a bilateral, verifiable nuclear freeze as our only hope for halting the madness whose potential consequences we have just witnessed."

The defining scene of "The Day After" appears below:

The 1965 British docudrama "The War Game" was an Academy Award winning film that chronicled the ramifications of nuclear war. The 1984 British movie "Threads" portrayed an attack scenario in London similar to that in "The Day After."

Based on the Tom Clancy novel, the 2002 film "Sum of All Fears," showed a nuclear attack against Baltimore. In April 2001, JTA’s Tom Tugend noted that "the producer of the upcoming thriller ‘Sum of All Fears’ changed Arab terrorists into neo-Nazis after protests from Arab American groups."

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