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Israelism (2024)

Opens on June 7

Director: Eric Axelman, Sam Eilertsen Run Time: 84 min. Rating: NR Release Year: 2023

Country: United States
Language: English, Hebrew

About the film:

World Premiere, 2023 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Documentary Spirit Award Winner, 2023 Brooklyn Film Festival

Two young American Jews—Simone Zimmerman and Eitan—are raised to defend the state of Israel at all costs. Eitan joins the Israeli military. Simone supports Israel on “the other battlefield:” America’s college campuses. When they witness Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinian people with their own eyes, they are horrified and heartbroken.

They join the movement of young American Jews battling the old guard over Israel’s centrality in American Judaism, and demanding freedom for the Palestinian people. Their stories reveal agenerational divide in the American Jewish communityas more young Jews question the narratives their synagogues and Hebrew school teachers fed them as children. 

“a timely documentary exploring changing Jewish attitudes toward Israel”

—Alex Ritman, Variety

The film also features voices like Jacqui, a Jewish educator who says “Judaism is Israel and Israel is Judaism”, and former Anti-Defamation League President Abe Foxman, who claims voices like Simone and Eitan’s represent a small minority. Thought leaders like Peter Beinart, Jeremy Ben-Ami, Noura Erakat, Cornel West, and Noam Chomsky also weigh in.

About the filmmakers:

Erin Axelman is a queer Jewish filmmaker, based out of Somerville, MA. Israelism is their directorial debut. Axelman and Israelism (2024) co-director Sam Eilertsen founded Tikkun Olam Productions, a nonprofit filmmaking collective that focuses on documenting and supporting movements for justice. Erin has produced videos for Senator Ed Markey, as well as Congressman Jamaal Bowman. In addition to directing Israelism (2024), they are currently producing the upcoming feature documentary Generation Green New Deal.

Sam Eilertsen worked for a decade as a cinematographer and editor on narrative and documentary projects before directing Israelism (2024), which is his directorial debut. He is also directing the upcoming documentary Generation Green New Deal, which follows the youth climate movement, and the upcoming Vs Goliath, a documentary series on frontline environmental justice activists, which was selected for the prestigious CNN/Film Independent 2023 Docuseries Intensive.

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