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B'siyata d'shmaya - With the help of Heaven

A Review of the ABC Television Network’s 'The Ten Commandments'

Aired April 10/11, 2006

By Shelomo Alfassa / April 11, 2006

Syndicated article as: "Ten Commandments Miniseries: Mount Sinai or Brokeback Mountain?" - Jewsweek Magazine - April 12, 2006
Syndicated article as: "Ten Commandments Miniseries: Mount Sinai or Brokeback Mountain?" - Israel Insider Magazine - April 12, 2006

ABC television in association with Hallmark Entertainment aired a two-part television film entitled “The Ten Commandments.” This ethnically sanitized and politically correct film flopped before it reached its first commercial break.

In the opening minutes of the mini-series, you hear the narrator say the particular phrase “Pharo’s Egypt.” This politically correct term clearly carries ABC’s objective not to confuse the viewer with the fact that the Arabs living in modern Egypt have nothing to do with the ancient Egyptians. Of course this would not offend Arabs, as many of them (especially their ‘political’ organizations) claim to be original descendants from the people who lived in Egypt during the times of Moses; for example, the Palestinian Authority (founded by the now deceased but Egyptian-born Yassar Arafat) claims to be descendants from the ancient Philistines, a clear revision of history for a political purpose.

The Jews can’t win! We can’t even get our own prophet to be, well, our own. In this television movie, Moses is clearly made to look like a stereotypical Jesus character with this long straight hair, parted in the middle vis-à-vis the “summer of 1969 look.” The film portrayed Moses as a classic blue-eyed white Anglo-Saxon Protestant—looking man that posses an inner pacifist streak. Moses looked like the classic 20th century Warner Sallman painting, the most modern and popular image of Jesus that has became one of the most-reproduced paintings of all time. ABC turned Moses into a replica of the Jesus painting that hangs in every Protestant Church, Christian bingo hall and Baptistery in the United States.

Actual screen grab from the movie, showing a NUCLEAR EXPLOSION while the Sea of Reeds was parting !?!?

The Moses character carried the conscientious objector trait that Christians indicate Jesus had. During one battle scene, Moses had a deep internal moment where he turned his face away as if to say “I can’t be witness to such violence!” Yet, through the help of Aaron that helped him lift up his staff and hold it over Moses’ head—Moses quickly develops his second wind. In all actuality, this type of thing happens more than once; clearly, in this film, Moses seems like he could use a prescription of Prozac.

In all seriousness, what was most deplorable was that the film was purposefully scrubbed of any reference to the Jewish people. The words ‘Jewish,’ ‘Jews,’ ‘Hebrews,’ ‘Israelites’ and the phrase ‘Children of Israel’ were never mentioned. The victims in the film were only called “slaves.” Imagine if the story of Jesus was portrayed with no mention of Christianity—there would be outrage.

Although they never come out and call them Hebrews, a number of the key victim population in the film were portrayed to look like descendants of Eastern European Jews, Ashkenazim, with hook noses and stereotypical curly hair. In addition, the “Jews” in the background were clearly Arab extras, probably locals from Morocco where the film was shot. They looked NOTHING like the tall and light skinned Moses or Aaron.

The director created gruesome bloody combat scenes, barbaric-style recreation of Biblical battles, possibly (or obviously) to show Moses and his people (those pesky Jews) were savages, terrorists of their day. [The point was made ABC—we got it clearly.]

The film does not follow the Biblical account, there is full fictionalization including Moses’ imaginary Egyptian brother "Menerith," a person ABC invented. At one point, during a tearful goodbye scene between Moses and Menerith, they touched each other’s face and stared at each other so much--and--so deeply into one another’s eyes, you would think you were watching Broke Back Mountain. I am sure I was not the only viewer that—just for a second—thought “are these guys going to lock lips?”

All in all, ABC produced a cheap and unachieved reproduction of the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille film by the same name. It is not that the 1956 film was Biblically accurate either, but as Hollywood films go, the 1956 film was at least created without political correctness, political messages, bizarre psychological drama and down right fictional stories and characters.



© Shelomo Alfassa