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Jewish Journal

My thanks to the Academy

by Noga Gur-Arieh

March 11, 2012 | 11:44 am

Our representatives on the red carpet (from left to right): Shlomo Bar-Aba, Joseph Cedar, Lior Ashkenazi.

I love Oscar week. There is something about it that makes me wake up with a smile on my face and carry that feeling with me until I fall asleep.

Usually I am more of an Emmy kind of girl, but the past couple of years, I just get so excited once the Academy Awards nominees are announced. I don’t really care who wins what (as opposed to the Emmy’s) - I just embrace the atmosphere. This year was Israel’s tenth nomination ever for Best Foreign Film, and the fourth in my lifetime.

A million words (or a thousand photos, if you like) cannot describe the special vibe that goes through every single Israeli once the nominations are announced. All the news channels stop focusing on Iran, the drought of the Kinneret and the climbing gas prices, and for a few weeks focus on honoring the Israeli artistic creators and performers. Newspaper headlines are brightly colored. There are special interviews and much reminiscing about past Israeli nominations.

For a few weeks- Israel is at its prime. It is almost magical, the way everybody unites for one cause: to honor Israeli culture. Suddenly people find themselves going to the cinema to watch Israeli films instead of the new Mission Impossible; going to see a play instead of partying at a nightclub; purchasing the new Shalom Chanoch album, instead of the new Glee soundtrack… Most importantly, the Oscars have the effect of making peace among ourselves. It is as if all of our differences seem irrelevant. Religious, secular, eastern, western, rich, not so rich; we all get together for one cause - supporting Israeli creation.

I remember the last time I had this feeling. It was last summer. After five years of struggle, Gilad Shalit returned home. All Israel got together for a shared cause. We all wanted to see our son, our brother, reunited with his family. Every single Israeli saw Gilad as a part of his/her own family, and that public pressure was the main reason Netanyahu agreed at last to the release deal.

Those moments of togetherness make me feel proud of my small country. We are many different people coming from different places, all living on a very small piece of land. Most of the time we are divided into a million different opinions - until something like an Academy Award nomination comes along. Then, suddenly, we are no longer the divided society. We are all Israeli.

The day after we lost the golden, handsome man, politics once again reared its ugly head. An Iranian source was quoted as saying: “This is the first step of Israel’s doom”. I even heard people blaming our loss on Anti- Semitism. Well, here we go again…The Hollywood pixie dust fades away and the world keeps spinning. To my personal opinion, but it is just me, Iran won because their movie was better than the Israeli one. Not because they may or may not have a bigger nuclear weapon. Well, I guess there’s always next year…

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