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Report: DSS arrests three Israeli filmmakers over alleged link to IPOB

Report: DSS arrests three Israeli filmmakers over alleged link to IPOB
July 18
14:10 2021

Three Israeli filmmakers were allegedly arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) for alleged link to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

The Israelis, Rudy Rochman, a Zionist activist; Noam Leibman, filmmaker, and David Benaym, French-Israeli journalist, were reportedly arrested on July 9 when they visited Ogidi village, Idemili North LGA of Anambra state.

The foreigners were said to have taken off from Ben Gurion Airport, Israel, on July 5 and arrived in Nigeria the following day to film a documentary titled, ‘We Were Never Lost’.

The documentary seeks to explore Jewish communities in African countries such as Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda, and Nigeria.

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According to Times of Israel, the arrested persons have not been charged by Nigerian authorities and are without legal representation.

The newspaper said the filmmakers were arrested on suspicion that they had come in contact with Biafran separatists.

The families of the three Israelis were also quoted in a statement as saying local political elements twisted the gifting of a Torah scroll to a local community as constituting support for separatist political ambitions.

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In their statement on Wednesday, the families said the filmmakers brought gifts for the communities hosting them but that the gifts were misinterpreted as support for IPOB activities.

“The filmmaking crew thought it would be a nice gesture to bring several gifts with cultural symbolism to the communities it planned to visit,” the statement reads.

“Unfortunately, members of non-state political groups have hijacked for their own purposes images of the filmmakers gifting a Torah to a local community.

“These individuals are distorting the intentions of the filmmakers in an effort to manufacture a connection to local political matters when no such connection exists.

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“These politically motivated actors have taken a simple gesture of kindness and twisted it in an attempt to create an alternate meaning.”

The families said the documentary series “are designed to educate viewers about the religious and cultural experiences of lesser-known Jewish communities”.

They added that the goal of the filmmakers is “to interview members of Jewish communities across multiple African countries, along with Jewish communities in China, India, Afghanistan and elsewhere”.

“This documentary is not intended to make any political statements about the countries in which filming will take place, nor does the filmmaking team endorse any political movements. The filmmaking crew acts as a guest visiting the country and its various communities – there are no political overtones,” they said.

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“We are working diligently with the US, Israeli and French embassies on the matter, and we greatly appreciate the attention they have given to the situation. Their involvement has helped to improve the conditions of the filmmakers while in custody – including the delivery of kosher meals prepared by the local Chabad.

“We hope that the DSS will quickly conclude what the facts support – that the filmmaking team has no political motives and that the team should be released from custody as soon as possible.”

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This development comes amid the arrest and detention of Nnamdi Kanu, founder of IPOB, who is said to have claimed in 2018 that “he owed his survival to the Jewish state”.

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