A short film aimed at advancing tolerance in Jerusalem almost caused a major ballyhoo with an animated scene showing a collapsing Dome of the Rock sanctuary being replaced by a Jewish temple.
The controversial scene, leaked to Ynet, was nixed and replaced with a version showing the dome simply disappearing as the movie moves backward in time.
The film, titled “The Magic of Jerusalem,” is the fourth in a series of “Truth About” productions, publicized by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and the public outreach department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The three other films, “The Truth About Jewish refugees,” “The Truth About the West Bank” and “The Truth About the Peace Process,” were produced by a private company with ties to the ministry, in collaboration with Jewish public relations groups from around the world. All the films enjoyed considerable viral success and were widely posted across the blogosphere and on social networking sites.
In the “The Magic of Jerusalem,” Ayalon relates the history of the capital, specifically demonstrating the Jewish people’s unbroken connection to the city throughout the ages. Ayalon stresses that under Israeli sovereignty, all religious denominations in Jerusalem enjoy a degree of religious freedom unprecedented in the city’s history and says that Jerusalem has created harmony out of diversity, papering over the city’s various internecine battles.
In the original version of the film, Ayalon attempts to show Jerusalem’s ancient Jewish roots by placing a virtual temple atop the Temple Mount. The only problem is that in order to do so, the film exhibits a destroyed Dome of the Rock crumbling into itself as the temple quickly takes its place.
Foreign Ministry officials who viewed the film decided to remove the scene, expressing fears that the graphic depiction may be hurtful to Muslims and could foment indignation among Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. The scene was replaced with a dissolving rather then destroyed mosque, now gracefully swept away by magical pixie dust.
Ayalon said that the film aimed to show a tolerant Jerusalem where members of all religions can live in peace and harmony.
“A vision of the Temple Mount’s collapse would create commotion,” he said. “In contrast with the Arab states, which suppress minority rights, Israel is proud of the religious freedom enjoyed by Muslims, Christians and Jews. Millions of youths around the world do not know about the special connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem and it is important that they understand why Jerusalem is our capital and will forever remain so.”