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"The Soldier's Opinion" Film Screening & Director Conversation

Assaf Banitt, Shay Hazkani, David N. Myers

Photo for "The Soldier

The UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies will be hosting an in-person screening of The Soldier's Opinion, followed by an audience Q&A with the film's director/writer, Assaf Banitt (in person), and co-creator, Dr. Shay Hazkani (over Zoom).

Monday, February 13, 2023
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM (Pacific Time)
UCLA Royce Hall
Room 190
10745 Dickson Ct.
Los Angeles, CA 90095
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Organized by the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Co-sponsored by the UCLA History Department, the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, and the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy.

About the Film

"This eye-opening film, at times moving and at times devastating, is a must-see." -The Forward

Over the span of fifty years, the Israeli Military Censor secretly copied soldiers' personal letters, extracting their views on the most contentious issues facing Israeli society. The findings were presented to leaders in a top-secret report identified as “The Soldier’s Opinion.”

The Soldier's Opinion premiered in the last Jerusalem Film Festival, as a part of the Israeli documentary competition. It sketches an alternative history of Israel through the story of this report. After the premiere in Jerusalem, the film was shown on the Israeli documentary channel Hot8, and held its North American premiere at the Other Israel Film Festival in New York City.

The Soldier's Opinion was directed by the award-winning Israeli filmmaker Assaf Banitt. The documentary was co-created with Professor Shay Hazkani, whose groundbreaking book Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War—which examines hundreds of personal letters by Jewish, Palestinian, and Arab volunteers who fought in the war or became its victims—inspired the film. The UCLA Nazarian Center hosted Dr. Hazkani in Fall 2022 to discuss his book. You can view the recording of this event on our YouTube channel.

Runtime: 55 Minutes

Languages: Hebrew (with English Subtitles)


About the Speakers

Assaf Banitt is an award-winning Israeli documentary film director and editor. His first film, Against Your Will, won the special jury mention at the Docaviv festival and his second film, The Soldier's Opinion, participated in the Jerusalem Film Festival. Banitt is a graduate of the Sam Spiegel Film & Television school and the MFA program at Tel Aviv University's department of Film and Television.




Dr. Shay Hazkani is an Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research and teaching focus on the social and cultural history of Palestine/Israel, and Middle Eastern Jews. He is the author of Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War (Stanford University Press, 2021). Shay received his Ph.D. in History and Judaic studies from New York University, his Master’s in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and his BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Tel Aviv University. He has been involved in various struggles over archival declassification policies in Israel. In 2019, he petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court together with the Association for Civil Rights, to compel the Israeli domestic intelligence service, the Shin Bet, to open its archives to the public. Prior to his academic career, Shay worked as a journalist covering the West Bank and the Israeli military.


David N. Myers (moderator) the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA, where he serves as the director of the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy. He is the author or editor of more than fifteen books in the field of Jewish history, including most recently American Shtetl: The Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York (Princeton) with Nomi Stolzenberg. Myers also serves as President of the New Israel Fund.



Watch the Trailer


DISCLAIMER: The views or opinions of our guest speakers and the content of their presentations do not necessarily reflect the views of the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Hosting speakers does not constitute an endorsement of the speaker's views or opinions.

Sponsor(s): Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Department of History, UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies