Besides West German initiatives for reconciliation with theJewish people, citizens from Germany as well as from Israel had already developed exchange in 'soft power' sectors such as science, youth exchange and culture before the formal establishment of diplomatic relations. Film and cinema played a small but important, and until today mainly overlooked, role in this process. The paper introduces films that preceded the official formalization of West German-Israeli film relations in the aftermath of 1965. Therefore, it focuses on the beginnings of German-Israeli film cooperation, and discusses which role the medium of film played for the German-Israeli rapprochement. In the first phase of German cinematic encounters with Israel, Israel became a projection screen for West German identity conflicts. However, at the same time cinema-including film screenings outside movie theatres in community halls, schools and churches-also became a place for projected encounters with Israel and its society. Thereby, films-and especially documentary films for educational purposes-significantly participated in shaping a certain image of the newly established country in the Middle East. The paper introduces an important protagonist in this development. The journalist and film-maker Rolf Vogel actively engaged in early encounters between both countries and societies, which were significantly mediated through films, and thus preceded, but also promoted, the diplomatic ties between Germany and Israel.
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© The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.