Exile: A Myth Unearthed…And Then Buried





Ilan Ziv has made a film, Exile: A Myth Unearthed, which purports to rewrite Jewish history and is of a highly political and controversial nature.

The film has been shelved by the BBC. Ziv is not happy.


Film-maker queries BBC reasons for shelving Jewish history documentary 

Ilan Ziv laments ‘sad saga of incompetence and political naiveté’ after BBC drops Jerusalem: an Archaeological Mystery Story

“The BBC have had the film for almost six months…..I discovered only 3 days before the broadcast that the BBC has been using a different name for the film: Jerusalem – An Archeological Mystery Story. It struck me as an odd choice that seems to camouflage the film’s real subject and repackages it as a neutral archeological mystery of sorts – like the hundreds of hours one can see on cable and satellite channels throughout the world.”.


The BBC denied that the film had been dropped because it was controversial and said it ‘did not fit editorially’ with a series of historical archeology films.

However, Israeli-born Mr Ziv claimed a ‘mini political storm was brewing’ at the Corporation in the days before the documentary was due to broadcast.


 Interesting that Ziv thinks the BBC tried to ‘camouflage’ the underlying narrative of the film…and renames it. Why hide the true nature of the film?

So is the film controversial or not? Does it have significance for modern day Israel and Middle Eastern politics?  Ziv himself claimed it wasn’t at all related to modern politics nor was it controversial …it clearly is.


This is what the Radio Times trail for it said: 

Archaeology is politics in the Middle East. The precarious balance of Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites in the ancient heart of Jerusalem is informed as much by what’s below ground as what’s above. Which is why evidence revealed here, suggesting that the Jewish exile from Jerusalem in AD 70 may never have actually happened, has such severe ramifications for relations in the region.  

Documentary by Ilan Ziv looking at new evidence which suggests the majority of Jewish people may not have been exiled after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Travelling from Galilee, Israel, to the catacombs of Rome, he discovers whether the event that has played a central role in Christian and Jewish theology for nearly 2000 years really happened, raising ethical questions about its impact on modern Middle Eastern issues.



 So let’s just read that last line again:

‘….raising ethical questions about its impact on modern Middle Eastern issues.’


What the hell does that mean?

That means the delegitimisation of Israel and its right to exist.

Any wonder the BBC got cold feet. 

The BBC quite clearly understands the potential ramifications of such claims but was prepared to broadcast them…until something stopped them….3 days before broadcast.

What that might have been who knows….I haven’t seen the film but presumably it was a one sided diatribe that made these claims without a great deal of contrary evidence or opposing voices.

Ziv himself says:Part of the editorial debate was that one freelance employee who was hired as part of the re-versioning of the film called it propaganda,” he said. “Another person inside the BBC, claimed (or so I was told) that the film drove some political point of view.

Therefore it was probably right to shelve a film that is clearly very controversial and more than likely not true, about an area of the world that is literally explosive.


Mr Ziv said he hoped to organise alternative screenings in the UK so that the film could be “judged on its own merit”. He rejected the suggestion that it was controversial since it does not deal with contemporary Israeli politics, and said he was not attempting to push the theory of writer Shlomo Sands, who challenges “the whole concept of the Jewish people….Sands did something that I refuse to do,” he said.


Shlomo Sands? Who is he?

He’s an ex communist, radical anti-Zionist who believes that there is no such thing as a ‘Jewish People’…he is also a professor of…European history…not Jewish history.

This is what he says in summary:

‘Most of the Jews in Israel are not the original Jews of the Bible, but people who converted to the Jewish religion.
Most of the Jews in Israel are descended from people in countries such as Germany, Georgia, Ukraine, Yemen, and Morocco who were not originally Jewish.

The Palestinians are most likely the original Jews

In short, the Jewish People, according to Sand, are not really a “people” in the sense of having a common ethnic origin and national heritage. They certainly do not have a political claim over the territory that today constitutes Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.”

He says:

‘A global ethnocracy invokes the myth of the eternal nation, reconstituted on the land of its ancestors, to justify internal discrimination against its own citizens.

He goes on to ‘suggests the diaspora was the consequence, not of the expulsion of the Hebrews from Palestine, but of proselytising across north Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East’



Ziv says that his film does not make the same claim that Sands does…but it obviously does…that the Jews are not the true people of Palestine and don’t have any claim over the land there.

None of that is true…genetic studies show that Jews around the world have definite connections to each other  and stem from the Middle East, and that far from somehow converting en masse whole populations, producing ‘ersatz’ Jews, the reality is that when Jews moved to different regions they inter-married and their spouses converted…a different thing altogether.

Studies Show Jews’ Genetic Similarity

Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East share many genes inherited from the ancestral Jewish population that lived in the Middle East some 3,000 years ago, even though each community also carries genes from other sources — usually the country in which it lives.

 New genetic research, published as a paper titled “Abraham’s Children in the Genome Era” in the June issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics, highlights the strong genetic bonds both within and among Jewish communities around the world, their distinctiveness vis-à-vis the populations among which they have dwelled, and their links to the Middle East.’



The genetic studies show that a large scale movement of Jews out of the Middle East has occured at some time, and therefore the Jewish Diaspora does have direct links  to the Middle East….whether the movement was after 70AD or not is irrelevant…Ziv is trying to show that Jews have little connection to the Middle East and thereby attempt to lessen the legitimacy of Israel….the genetics disprove his theory and Sand’s.  If a Jewsih homeland had been based soely upon a common religioun then they could have set up a homeland anywhere in the world….the genetic link justifies their move back to the Middle East.


Has the BBC come to its senses or has the BBC had it suggested to them that this film is potentially highly inflammatory being factually incorrect and of such a highly contentious nature…..it calling into question the legitimacy of a nation with what could be devastating consequences?

If the film had been a genuine scholarly debate arguing both sides that would have been a different matter…if it is purely a one sided diatribe acting as Palestinian propaganda that is something else altogether…and rightly canned.

The BBC after all will not call Palestinian terrorists ‘terrorists’, it calls the security fence a ‘barrier’  so as not to imply Palestinians are the aggressors to be defended against, it doesn’t report the extent of Palestinian radicalisation ot its intentions to erase Israel from the map.


Only right therefore that it balances that with a bit of self censorship that favours Israel…or rather, doesn’t allow anti-Israel propaganda to be broadcast…for once.



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33 Responses to Exile: A Myth Unearthed…And Then Buried

  1. Sidney Harbour-Bridge says:

    Groan – I can already picture Ilan Ziv’s plaintative (unmoderated) article in the Guardian, the righteous indignation of ‘liberals’, the letters from Ken Loach ‘demanding’ the screening of the film, the CiF articles ad nauseam on it, and the BBC reporting this indignation ad nauseam, probably insinuating some sinister pressure from ‘da jooz’ as to why it wasn’t shown.


    • noggin says:

      i think, the bbc, know the “narrative” at hand, and its implication.
      they have been known to “name-drop”, ie plant the seeds of doubt before, admittedly they are taking more care in this case, but why have such an errored and highly contentious programme for six months? …

      show the documentary, to feed a ahem … “certain”
      😀 growing inane conspiracy theory fanbase.
      but follow it with a factually based one clearly showing all the links outlined above, that would blow it out the water, all this shelve don t shelve palava only helps the bbc and its narrative


    • Bed says:

      I read on Ilan Ziv’s website about the documentary that one of the objections was that it ‘proped-up the myth of exile.’ I think we shouldn’t feel threatened by Shlomo Sand’s and others views about the exile as they are as simplistic as those who believe Jews were a pure blooded ethno-racial group that preserved itself for 2000 years. The truth is more complex , we know that Romans did use expulsion especially for elites (Carthage, Gaul’s Druids) so this could have happened to an extend in Judea while leaving substantial numbers of Jews in their original homleand. At the same time Judean emigrants and exiles could have converted and intermarried with converts from the gentile population all over the Roman world. Arguing that Judeans were unable to travel around is dubious, as is the theory that gentiles converted without contact with original judeans. It is possible that whole gentile groups (Khazars, Himyar-Yemenites, Berbers and Falasha) converted but not without advise and expertise of established Jewish communities with strong Judean ancestral links such as the Mesopotamian and Roman Jews. Also all modern nations are hybrids and ‘convert’ foreigners to their ethnic identity for eg, the Palestinian nation is as much a construct and mix as Israelis. They are also unlikely to be descended entirely from Judeans and Samaritans as the Roman, Christian and Islamic empires brought thousands of migrants from all over Asia, Europe, and Africa. Meaning that they should be expelled along with the Jews leaving 200 Samaritans to be the righful owners of the land.


  2. Demon says:

    Although ultimately it appears the BBC finally did the right thing, and should be commended for that, the question must be asked why were they even thinking to broadcast what sounds to be an absolute travesty of truth – even up to three days before the broadcast schedule.


  3. Guest Who says:

    “the question must be asked why were they even thinking to broadcast what sounds to be an absolute travesty of truth”

    Often the ‘thinking of’ can generate more lovely heat than any possible light. The BBC does have form now using proxies to bury those they don’t like.
    Luckily for the BBC, if not truth or accuracy, questions getting asked is what they do, not answer.


  4. deegee says:

    The BBC stopped the broadcast of a film that casts doubt on Israel’s right-to-exist and provides ammunition for those who want to destroy it? Does that sound even remotely like the BBC?

    Regrettably, so many of Israel’s community of film makers (including actors and journalists) support parties, with their basis in Marx, that are conveniently described as far and extreme Left. They support a vision of Israel (for her own good, as defined by themselves) that is not so much different to the public face of Palestinians and fellow travelers. When I heard that the BBC was planning to show raising ethical questions about Jewish historical impact on modern Middle Eastern issues, I was already flinching.

    Does anyone really believe that the BBC would allow a programme coming from the opposite direction, showing for example, that most Palestinians were recent immigrants with zero connection to the land of which they claim to be indigenous owners?


    • deegee says:

      For the record. The actual ancient history of the Jews is really as of little relevance as the actual ancient history of the Muslims or the Christians. There are strong arguments that Jesus and Mohammed never actually existed, at least as described but so what? None of these groups is going to voluntarily disappear on the basis of that claim.


      • Old Thgeologian says:

        “There are strong arguments that Jesus and Mohammed never actually existed, (at least as described sic) but so what?
        I will be very happy to arrange for you to publicly debate your highly contentious argument with scholars who are neither Christian or Muslim and see what evidence you can marshall.
        The evidence that Christ existed is overwhelming for a figure from ancient times.
        That Mohammed existed is not in doubt either.


        • PhD says:

          While you are correct that there is substantial contemporaneous evidence that Mohammed existed, you are completely mistaken with regards to ‘Christ’. There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of the character that is portrayed in the Christian bible. The only sources for information about ‘Christ’ are Christian ones, which are obviously self serving. The complete absence of evidence in any of the records of the time provides a compelling argument that ‘Christ’ never existed.


  5. Rufus McDufus says:

    I’m struggling to understand how evidence that many Jews ‘stayed behind’ delegitimises the justification to the state of Israel. Surely it does the opposite doesn’t it? The problem is I don’t know what is supposed to have happened to the Jewish residents who stayed and lived through Roman & then Christian rule. I’d be surprised if every single Jew left the state, violent though those times were. I’m guessing they remained as Jews unless forced to denounce.

    I personally think it’s valid to show it if it can be proved that the evidence stands up to scientific scrutiny and is not just trouble-making claptrap. I’m not sure how it would change the situation at all anyway. The Muslims have no regard for the mountain of evidence that Jews were there before them. Some of the best archaeological sites are just beyond the Temple Mount walls. The Muslims dig a new sewer or something, chuck all the spill over the wall, spill is found to contain lots of fragments of Jewish stuff. Muslims deny the Temple Mount was ever Jewish despite all of this. The Muslims have no regard for scientific evidence at all.


    • Demon says:

      “I’m struggling to understand how evidence that many Jews ‘stayed behind’ delegitimises the justification to the state of Israel. ”

      I think the theory is that the ancient Jews, including those who stayed behind, are not related to the modern Jews of the diaspora. Therefore modern Jews have no legitimate, historical, claim.

      However, as has been pointed out above; that is racist baloney as there is a proven genetic link from most Jews to their ancestral homeland.


  6. Harvey says:

    This is just the next broadside after previous failed attempts to dismantle the state of Israel .
    Existential wars followed by terrorism and two Intifadas . All destined to come to nothing # BDS fail


  7. John Anderson says:

    I see just a lot of facts mixed up with a good deal of legend.

    There can be no disputing that the Jews were in Israel 3000 years ago. Christianity and Islam did not exist

    There can be precious little historical doubt that their Kings eventually chose Jerusalem as their capital. Likewise little doubt that they built a Temple there. But probably not originally on what became the Temple Mount.

    Jewish exile in Babylon is confirmed by historical records there. As is their return to their homeland.

    There can be no doubt that Temple Mount as it now stands – a huge construction for early times – was strengthened by Herod..

    And that at the time suggested for the existence of Christ, Israel was a Jewish country, but part of the Roman Empire..

    Whether Christ is a myth or not – the settings for the 2000-year “myth” are all in Israel – Bethlehem as the place of birth, Nazareth in the north as the family home, the nearby Sea of Galilee as the settings for the preachings such as the Sermon on the Mount and alleged miracles, the Mount of Olives above Jerusalem as the place of capture (Gethsemane) and eventual ascension, Jerusalem as the city into which Christ rode and where he was tried and crucified. In sum – Israel is the focus, the home of Christianity as well as Judaism.

    There is no historical doubt whatsoever that there was a Jewish rebellion against the Romans in AD 70, culminating in the siege of the massive rock fortress of Masada by the Dead Sea.

    So – Israel is the original “home” of 2 of the world’s great religions, going back thousands of years.

    And it is absurd for Muslims to deny all this – and sacriligeous for them to destroy any archaeological remains of ancient Jerusalem.

    As far as Islam is concerned, there is a “myth” that Muhammed mounted a magic horse and flew to “Al Asqa” – “the most distant mosque” – and then ascended to “Heaven”. The “Dream”.

    They CLAIM that Al Asqa means a mosque that was on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, rather than anywhere else. With nil corroborative evidence. Fine. But it is absurd for Muslims to deny that Temple Mount was where the Jews had constructed their Second Temple hundreds of years before.

    The Muslim claim that Jerusalem was a major site of the myth of Islam is frankly very flaky. But undoubtedly they adopted the Temple Mount for their magnificent Dome of the Rock, after Jerusalem became a significant city for Islam by conquest.

    When East Jerusalem including the Temple Mount was recaptured from the Jordanians in 1967, General Dayan magnanimously confirmed that Muslims should still be custodians of the flat acres at the top of the Mount including their Dome and the nearby Al Asqa mosque. The Jews simply wanted free worship at the Western Wall of the Mount – but the Muslims have frequently interfered with free worship there.

    In 1948 the Jordanians had cleared all the Jews out of East Jerusalem – and then desecrated synagogues and cemetaries. By contrast the Israelis did not “ethnically cleanse” East Jerusalem in 1967, and even within the ancient fortified walls of Jerusalem most of the area is known as the Muslim Quarter – with Muslims free to trade all through the old city.

    Jews and Christians do not deny this overall “history” – a mix of facts and legends. Yet Muslims – and some leftie Jews – deny or belittle much of it.

    Just another aspect of the endless Muslim denial of realities.

    And it is not surprising for the BBC to go along with such denials.


    • Demon says:

      John, an excellent summation. Very good post.


      • stewart says:

        Have just started reading ‘The Tragedy of the Templar’s’ by Michael Haag. In it he claims that Jerusalem was not identified as “the most distant mosque” until long after the muslim conquest of the city for dynastic reasons. And that prior to that it was accepted that Medina was the destination of Mohamed’s magic carpet ride
        His earlier book ‘Templars: History and Myth:’
        (recommended by the way) has an interesting chapter dealing with the Jewish claim to Jerusalem.


        • Demon says:

          I’ve got to look out for those two. I’ve always been dubious about looking for books dealing with the templars because of the revisionist cant trying to infer that the wars were started by Christians trying to take lands that had “always” been muslim.


          • stewart says:

            ‘God’s Battalions’ by Rodney Stark
            is the antidote for that revisionist
            On subject of Templars specifically Barbara Frale’s book ‘the Templars’ is concise but authoritative account of their history.
            Problem with the Templars is they attract so much conspiracy guff (mine casts cultural relativism as the villain)


  8. Wild says:

    The Left, like a soiled nappy on a newborn, is very predictable, so I took it for granted that given that it was a BBC programme it was going to be anti-religion (except for Islam) and anti-Israel (presented by a left-wing Jew) and so the surprise is that it was pulled.

    Given that this happened at the last moment I am guessing that it was because of the bombing in the USA – the Left work on the principle that there is a time and place for Jew hatred.


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  10. Viz says:

    So is the BBC biased in favour of Israel now?

    ‘I haven’t seen the film but presumably it was a one sided diatribe’

    And your presumption is based on……………?


    • Alan says:

      Viz….’Ziv’ …clever mate. I laughed.

      I say the film is targeted at demolishing Israel’s right to exist…your point is what exactly? How does your highly selective point demolish my point? It doesn’t.

      In this case the BBC is favouring Israel….probably not by choice, I presume…this blog highlights BBC bias…one way or the other.

      Problem with that?

      I assume you have read the post but wilful blindness set in.

      How could I presume to know the narrative of the film?

      You conveniently missed this from your cherry pick:

      Ziv himself says: “Part of the editorial debate was that one freelance employee who was hired as part of the re-versioning of the film called it propaganda,” he said. “Another person inside the BBC, claimed (or so I was told) that the film drove some political point of view

      ‘Propaganda….a political point of view‘…from people who have seen the film.

      You may also have got a slight clue from the title and the film’s own hype…as illustrated by the picture at the top of the page.

      Name of film…’Exile: The Myth Unearthed’….gives the game away doesn’t it…the Jewish Exile is a myth in the film makers eye.

      Just how political is it?……the film’s own hype says:

      ‘Raising important ethical questions about its impact on present day Middle East’

      I can see why you find it so hard to conclude that the film has an agenda.


      • David Preiser (USA) says:

        I’d bet that the choice of the moniker “Viz” has a different intent.


  11. Viz says:

    Ziv also said ‘Realizing that a mini political storm was brewing around the film and attacks lodged against its integrity, I asked and was promised that I would be given at least a summary of the essential charges so I could answer them in length. I am obviously very familiar with some of them and could easily and in detail refute them. I told the programming executive that my reply would help them to defend the film in the Channel. After all, they professed to love the film and seemed genuinely interested to show it. I told them it was very easy for me to prepare a detailed rebuttal with citation of sources for every word of the narration, the overall analysis and for every scene. I told them that some of the academic participants in the program who saw the cut and are reputable scholars in their field did not find any factual errors or misrepresentations of facts or of the historical narrative. In other words, I argued that such a detailed and substantial defense would convince any objective reader and observer of the editorial integrity of the film.’

    Or there’s Alan’s presumption.


    • Alan says:

      You presume my presumption is wrong…based on your own presumption…because you clearly haven’t read or understood the post…if you had you would know, as explained above, that my presumption was based on what people who had seen the film had said.

      Stop press…film maker claims his film is entirely accurate and the work of a genius.

      Incredibly he doesn’t claim it is a load of old hokum based on his own myths and inventions.

      Michael Moore, Al Gore and the guys from ‘Loose Change’ applaud Ziv’s intelligent and accurate take on Middle Eastern history.

      Oi Vey!


  12. stuart says:

    i think the time has come for the courts to class the words kaffir and infidel as racially aggravated terms to describe non muslims by muslim islamo fascists,in fact the demeaning word kaffir and infidel are just as racist as the word paki or nigger in my book.


  13. Viz says:

    Calm down there Alan, you’re getting a bit worked up.

    I merely pointed out that you’re arguing the BBC is biased in favour of Israel, whereas this Blog generally argues the opposite. And that you haven’t seen the film, but make the presumption that it is ‘a one sided diatribe’.

    You base that entirely on what someone in the BBC said and a BBC freelancer. (or so he was told) Funny, you don’t usually put much trust in them, except here. And why take their word (given you don’t even know who they are) over the film maker who says he can back up his film with evidence (I know , a concept you’re not familiar with), as well as academics, scholars in the field. There are other people who’ve seen the film, including a Jewish Festival in Toronto..

    ‘In this case the BBC is favouring Israel….probably not by choice’ – Oh, who’s choice is it then? Anything at all to back that up? Come out and say what you mean.

    Neither of us has seen the film, but you’ve come to the conlcusion its political and it has an agenda. You base that on the blurb which includes the line ‘‘Raising important ethical questions about its impact on present day Middle East’.

    The filmaker says ‘EXILE does not deal with contemporary politics in the Middle East, rather, it proposes to examine their ideological and historical underpinnings’. If the archaeology suggests something then that is what it suggests, your politics are irrelvant.

    The Shlomo Sands bit which is irrelevant.

    Let me put it this way. I an archaeological project discovered evidence that Moses, Jesus and Mohammed were fictional characters then I expect that would have ramifications today. That doesn’t make the film political or mean it has an agenda, that’s what the archaeological evidence suggests.

    I haven’t see the film, and I look forward to hearing the BBC answers to the points raised by the filmmaker. There are certainly questions to be answered.

    My argument is not about the BBC, or this film, or the Middle East, my problem is with a poorly thought out post, and a thinking that arrives at conclusions based on nothing. I’m sorry to say Alan, I find that is so often the case here. Balen anyone?


  14. Teddy Bear says:

    The impression from Honest Reporting about the film, and the reasons for the BBC pulling it:

    Four observations, having watch the full unedited version:

    1. The challenge to the Jewish historical and theological narrative of an exile after the destruction of the Second Temple does not negate the fact that a continuous and uninterrupted Jewish presence existed in the Land of Israel from that period to the present day. If anything, it confirms it.
    2. Questioning the Jewish or Israeli narrative has never been an issue for the BBC (or anyone else for that matter) in the past. What makes this particular documentary too controversial for the BBC?
    3. The thesis that some Palestinians may actually be the descendants of Jews who lived in what is today Israel and converted to Islam centuries ago may be controversial and unappealing to both Jews and Palestinians but it is not the first time that this has been suggested.
    4. Indeed, could such a theory be more damaging to a Palestinian national movement that has consistently sought to deny Jewish history and claims to the land?

    Was the BBC, in fact, more concerned at upsetting anti-Israel elements by showing a film with such a heavy concentration on Jewish history in the Land of Israel?

    That was my impression too when I first heard of the programme being pulled. and certainly fits the usual BBC agenda.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      So our initial guesses were wrong? It wasn’t the Zionist Lobby getting them to pull the piece like they supposedly did with that War on Israel Gaza Aid appeal? At least the BBC can now claim balance and impartiality on this one, as they got complaints from both sides….

      Or maybe this is like what happens in basketball when the ref makes a bad call which benefits one team, and then makes an equally bad make-up call for the other side to balance things out.


  15. Viz says:

    ‘It wasn’t the Zionist Lobby getting them to pull the piece like they supposedly did with that War on Israel Gaza Aid appeal?’

    The BBC made that decision on its merits. Because they decided not to show it, those sympatetic to the Palestinians suggested it was due to pressure from the Zionist Lobby/Israeli embassy. That’s the only evidence they needed to make that allegation. Balen report anyone?


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      You obviously missed the dripping sarcasm there, being new here and with no knowledge of past discussions. If you’re a long time lurker, though, I’d suggest you really need to go back and read some of my comments before rushing to such a wrong conclusion again. If not, I’m sure that remark seemed curious to you outside of its proper context. Just to make things clear, I was being facetious, pretending to speak on behalf of the entire anti-Israel community, who were very clear in their complaints that the BBC was biased in favor of Israel for shelving it.

      You’ve mentioned the Balen report again, so what about it? Are you one of those who believe the BBC has a right to keep it hidden because there’s nothing there to see, move along?


  16. peter says:

    Lets hope that some kind person will put the whole film on Youtube or some other site so we can all make up our own minds.


  17. Greg says:

    The genetic argument is one of the more specious fantasies. Perhaps those who support it can explain how any presumed genetic similarity provides any indication of religious beliefs. When did this advance in genetic science take place?