Israel: A Right to Live (lost BBC documentary film; 1967)
Israel: A Right to Live (also known as Israeli) is a lost 1967 BBC documentary film about the Six-Day War directed by John Schlesinger and produced by Harry Saltzman. The film is said to have been shot in Israel a few days in June after the war ended and the film's subject was said to be about the war from an Israeli's point of view.
The Six-Day War was a 1967 conflict centered in the Middle East between Israel and its Arab neighboring countries Egypt, Jordan, and Syria that lasted from June 5th to June 11th, 1967. The war is generally believed to have been started due to Israel wanting Egypt to re-open the Straits of Tiran for Israeli shipping after they had been banned from sailing following the 1956 Suez Canal Crisis and began preemptively to strike war with Egypt by coordinating an aerial attack on Egyptian airfields.
Soon afterwards, Jordan and Syria began to enter the war in support of Egypt, but their armies were quickly defeated by the Israeli army. By the end of the war, the Israeli military had seized and occupied territories from the warring Arab countries including the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt (though Israel would later return control of the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt in 1982 as part of a 1979 peace treaty with Egypt and Israel would later withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005), the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan, and the western half of the Golan Heights from Syria.
Though Israel continues to claim the territories it captured in the Six-Day War as a part of its modern-day territory, the majority of the world continues to recognize them as Israeli-occupied territories and their political status remains a controversial issue to this day.
Content and Production
According to the British Film Institute, the film's subject was about the Six-Day War and "examines the reactions to the event and establishes the historical context from an Israeli perspective."
According to William J. Mann's 2006 biography of Schlesinger titled Edge of Midnight: The Life of John Schlesinger, he was interested to make a documentary film about the Six-Day War with writer Wolf Mankovitz and he flew to Israel to shoot footage for the documentary. His journey there was described as "quite moving, a sense of reclaiming his Jewish heritage" and it was his first time he ever visited the country.
There are some conflicting claims about whether or not the documentary was completed, as Alan Rosenthal's 2000 book Jerusalem, Take One!: Memoirs of a Jewish Filmmaker claims that the film was completed but no one liked the final result and had a few private showings, while William J. Mann's book claims that the film was never completed due to Schlesinger's reported "creative differences" with the BBC.
As of the writing of this article, there are no known surviving prints of the film, no surviving still images, and a full script of the documentary has not been made available to the public.
- History's article on the Six-Day War. Retrieved 07 Oct '19
- The British Film Institute's page on the film. Retrieved 21 Sept '19
- An excerpt of William J. Mann's 2006 book Edge of Midnight: The Life of John Schlesinger, mentions a brief production of the film at page 281. Retrieved 21 Sept '19
- Movie Scope Magazine's March 2011 interview with cinematographer Tony Richard, mentions that he can't find a print of the film (courtesy of the Wayback Machine). Retrieved 21 Sept '19