By VALERIE MWALILINO
More than 100 Israeli documentary films on videocassette were presented to the Library of Congress by Ambassador Eliahu Ben-Elissar on behalf of the Embassy of Israel on March 21.
The group of films, which expands the Library's audiovisual holdings from Israel, covers a variety of subjects, including archaeology, culture and society, geography, history, international cooperation, Jerusalem, the Holocaust, immigration, the Israel Defense Forces; the Arab-Israeli conflict, nature, religion, science, technology and agriculture.
Among the films presented is the "Wonder of Israel," which has won a number of awards: the CINE Golden Eagle, the Telly Award, a Silver medal at the New York World Festival and a Bronze Medal from the National Education Media Network.
"The Library greatly appreciates the Embassy of Israel's cooperation and generosity in making these items available to us," said Dr. Billington. "These important films will fill a gap in the Library's collections documenting Israeli culture and related issues."
Ambassador Ben-Elissar said, "The Embassy of Israel is donating these films to enable the American people to get a taste of Israel's multidimensional society. We hope that this collection will entice Americans to visit Israel to see for themselves what is so well-portrayed in these 100 films. The Embassy of Israel and the Library of Congress will continue to work together in the future to make as many resources as possible available to the American people."
The presentation was marked by sadness, as a bombing had taken place in Tel Aviv earlier in the day. Dr. Billington expressed his sympathy for the victims. Ambassador Ben-Elissar added, "It is unfortunate that the world of Israel is tainted with tragedy and disaster, but it is wonderful for us to be among books and good friends, especially on this day."
The films are being provided under the terms of the agreement dated Feb. 19, 1950, between the governments of the United States and Israel (Treaties and Other International Acts Series 2169), in which the official publications of Israeli government agencies are made available to the Library of Congress. The agreement calls for exchange of a full set of official publications between the Library of Congress, as a recipient for the official publications of the government of Israel, and the State Archives in Jerusalem, as the recipient for the U.S. government documents.
Traditionally, only paper copies of documents were exchanged. In the early 1980s materials for the international exchange program were made available on microfiche by the U.S. Government Printing Office. With advances in modern technology, alternative formats such as CD-ROMs, videos and cassettes are now available via exchange from government and non-governmental sources in Israel. The 100 films are the first in what is expected to be a continuing relationship with the Israeli Embassy.
Gail Shirazi and Norma Mordfin of the African/Middle Eastern Acquisitions Section in the Order Division at the Library are responsible for managing the Israeli exchange program. Annually, more than 6,000 pieces are received on exchange from Israel, from more than 200 active partners, including official government sources, universities and other non-governmental sources. In return, the Library sends out thousands of pieces of current, commercially available, research-quality publications selected from the Library's duplicates collection. Ms. Shirazi would like all exchange partners to know that "the Library makes a conscious effort to collect nonbook materials," and she "encourages all organizations to follow the Embassy's example and make them available on exchange."
Most of the material from Israel acquired to date for the Library's film collections has been received on an exchange basis from several partners, such as smaller research organizations with limited budgets that produce material mostly in the area of ethnic Jewish music and film. The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center in Or Yehudah has provided videos on Iraqi Jewry, such as the "Jewish Wedding in Baghdad." The Ministry of Education sent the Library two films on the Druze community in Israel: "The Druze" and "Son of Abraham." The Library has also received films from the Israel Police on "Combatting Terrorism-The Israeli Experience." Renanot (Institute for Jewish Music) and Bet Hatefutsot (Museum of the Jewish Diaspora) are among the exchange partners providing the Library with sound recordings of the music of various Jewish communities worldwide such as: "Songs of the Jewish Yemenite Diwan," "Los Cantes de Ester, Salonika" and "Piyutim for the High Holidays in the Tradition of the Jews of Kurdistan."
Ms. Mwalilino is in the African and Middle Eastern Division.