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‘Homeland’ creator to direct movie on rescue of Ethiopian Jews

Gideon Raff sells rights for ‘Operation Brothers’ to Fox Searchlight

Israeli creator of 'Homeland' Gideon Raff. (Courtesy)
Israeli creator of 'Homeland' Gideon Raff. (Courtesy)

American film distributor Fox Searchlight has bought the rights for an upcoming movie on Israel’s rescue of Ethiopian Jews in the early 1980s, to be written and directed by “Homeland” producer Gideon Raff.

Raff, who is Israeli, is slated to serve as screenwriter, producer and director of “Operation Brothers,” which will follow the rescue of thousands of Ethiopians, starting with prime minister Menachem Begin’s 1977 order to the Mossad to devise a plan to bring the community to Israel, Variety reported Wednesday.

Alexandra Milchan, who produced the blockbuster “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is also to set to join the movie’s production team.

The Israeli government started undertaking efforts to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel through Sudan at the end of 1979. The Jews faced discrimination by the local government and were banned from emigration to Israel, but thousands were brought in a series of airlifts, many of them from refugee camps in Sudan.

The two largest rescue operations, Operation Moses in 1984-1985 and Operation Solomon in 1991, brought over 20,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

Over the last 30 years, some 92,000 Ethiopians have immigrated to Israel.

The issue of their integration into Israeli society recently came to a head in a series of protests alleging systematic discrimination against the community. In response, the government agreed to create a committee to examine the complaints and work to correct them.

Raff is known for creating the smash hit show “Homeland,” which is based loosely on its Israeli predecessor “Hatufim” (Prisoners of War), and has won several Emmy awards.

Both drama-filled series follow prisoners of war who return home after being held captive by Islamists and have to deal with adjusting to regular society, amid suspicions of their allegiances.

Raff is also the producer of the action show “Dig,” which follows a Jerusalem-based FBI agent. It premiered in spring 2015 but was canceled after a single season.

In addition, he produced TV drama series, “Tyrant,” which takes place in a fictional Arab country and has seen moderate success.

Debra Kamin contributed to this report.

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