Case Study: Standing Up to a Movie Studio That Tried to Hide Israel

It started with an article in the Times of Israel about the new Zombie film World War Z. The article described how a major part of the film takes place in Israel (although it was actually filmed elsewhere.) Israel comes out quite positively in the movie. Yet within the article, one thing caught our eye. When the film was shown in Turkey, the word “Israel” had been taken out of the subtitles and replaced with the Turkish words for “Middle East.” According to the TOI story, the film came directly from Paramount Pictures with the subtitles.

In other words, Paramount made a horror movie, but was afraid that seeing the word “Israel” would be just too much for audiences in the predominantly Islamic audiences. They might be able to handle the notion of flesh-eating zombies taking over the world, but not the idea that there is a real country called “Israel.”

We put together the following video.

While we usually urge people to send e-mails to the offending news organization in response to a biased story, in this case we suggested that people go to the Paramount Pictures Facebook page and leave a comment objecting to the removal of the word “Israel.”

The response was amazing.

Paramount’s page filled with people drawing attention to and objecting to the removal of the word “Israel.” Reams and reams of comments appeared every time Paramount tried to post something, even when they were posting about other movies.

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Paramount may have thought that no one would notice their weak attempt to avoid angering an audience by caving in to anti-Israel sentiment. Their reference to the substitution of “Middle East” for “Israel” as a “local translation” makes them appear unprofessional. But we can only imagine how Paramount feels about their entire Facebook page being taking over by people complaining about this issue.

This case shows how social media can allow a mobilized group to stand up and be heard. Anti-Israel bias is not just in the traditional news. It makes its way into all aspects of media, especially popular culture.

All the more reason why those who care about Israel must remain vigilant and be quick to respond to these cases. Acting in great numbers can make a powerful statement.

So for everyone who wrote comments, great job. Let’s hope that Paramount now understands that when they make changes to avoid offending one group, they will invariable offend another. Which is too bad, because by all accounts, the movie is supposed to reflect Israel in a very positive light.