Israeli model-actress turns activist
October 16, 2012 | Dave Gordon - Correspondent
Model and actress Noa Tishby’s not just another pretty face; she now wants her face to be recognized for her Israel advocacy as well.
Tishby’s image adorns billboards, entertainment and fashion magazine covers across Israel and Europe. Consistently on the ‘Sexiest women in Israel’ list, the Israeli actress and activist was voted ‘Sexiest woman alive’ in 2007.
In the United States, she has appeared in the films Ghost of Girlfriends Past and The Island with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. Some of her television credits include Big Love, NCIS, CSI:Miami and Star Trek: Enterprise.
As a producer, Tishby made history with the sale of In Treatment to HBO, as the first Israeli television show to become an American series, where she co-produces with actors Mark Wahlberg and Gabriel Byrne.
It has been nominated for 12 Emmys and a Golden Globe.
Now Tishby is committed to making a difference in Middle East perception. In 2011 she founded the non-profit organization Act For Israel (www.actforisrael.org).
She considers it an information hub to fight misperceptions about Israel.
She is also spearheading an initiative to have Woody Allen produce a film in Israel.
The Jewish Tribune caught up with Tishby and asked her about her various endeavours.
Q: As someone in the film industry, you’ve recently embarked on something of an unusual project. You created a YouTube video encouraging Woody Allen to film in Israel. What is that project about?
Noa Tishby: It started as a little bit of a joke but now has taken on a life of its own…. There was an article that said the reason Woody makes all these films in all these different countries was because they call him up and they offer him money to film there – Paris, London, Barcelona. Accidentally, a great tourist campaign gets launched for those countries…. A lot of people notice he hadn’t been to Israel before. I have spoken to the government of Israel and other investors and people are game for this.
Q: Hollywood isn’t really proactive in support of Israel. If Woody took a chance on this, do you think he’d have trouble finding others to support the project?
Tishby: Hollywood is silent on Israel. It’s a non-fashionable cause…. It’s fantastic to help Africa – and it’s one of those causes that makes you look good. People aligning with Israel doesn’t ‘look good.’ I hope this changes and it will take work to change that.
Q: One supposes a major industry film shot in Israel would give many people a first-time look at the country’s beauty, and certainly prove to be controversial – the noise will draw publicity.
Tishby: There’s going to be boycotts, like there is with anything. I’m aware of how organized they [the anti-Israel movement] are, and they are very organized. But once people realize that the media propaganda they’ve been fed is absolutely wrong, their hearts and minds change. I’ve seen hundreds of people go to Israel – people of all stripes – I’ve yet to see them come back and say ‘meh, it was all right, not that great.’
Israel has a combination of old and new – bars, restaurants, ruins, history – but there aren’t that many places that combine 2,500-year-old walls along with some of the best food and nightlife and Caribbean-type beaches, with open and modern people.
Nobody talks about these goods things…. The only time people hear about Israel is when something bad happens.
Q: Act for Israel is your new online project – describe what that is.
Tishby: It’s an advocacy rapid-response hub. There are a lot of amazing organizations, but we took on online advocacy as our mission…. There aren’t that many Jews in the world, and not that many people standing by Israel. It’s very challenging. Israel seems like the aggressor; people forget it’s the size of New Jersey, and in the most volatile area in the world. I hope people will look at what’s going on in the Arab world now and start to think that there’s no real democracy anywhere there – not the same values.
For people to say that Israel is the problem, is an absolute lack of education.
Q: Speaking of education, how do we get it to people who need it most?
Tishby: We have to infiltrate the mosques, the madrassas, and we have to handle radical Islam – I don’t say Islam as a whole.... It’s hard to fight an enemy that when they die, they think they win….
What’s going on in Israel affects all of us. Israel is de facto functioning as a buffer zone between radicalism and the West. If Israel’s not there, G-d help us all. It’s the only true ally of the West, and it’s because of values.
I don’t think people understand there are tentacles of radical Islam – Bali, London, 9/11, Mumbai, Madrid and all over, that act just like Hamas and Hezbollah.
Q: Do you back the two-state solution?
Tishby: Yes…. The fact is we’re two people sharing land the size of a napkin. We’re not going away, they’re not going away, and so everyone calm down and let’s sort this out. Let’s focus less on who’s right. You’re right, I’m right, you’re right, I’m right, so what’s that going to get us?