The Venona Men

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How Israel Became a Television Powerhouse

You don’t often see perfectly chilled martinis served at conferences in Israel, but the TLV Formats Conference was an event that was out of the ordinary. It was held for the second time in September 2017, and hundreds of buyers from television networks around the world came to Tel Aviv to snatch up new Israeli shows—scrambling to get ahead of the huge international TV convention called MIPCOM the following month in Cannes. Over the past decade, Israel has become one of the world’s most prolific exporters of “formats”—industry jargon for concepts and programs. Sometimes an American TV network takes a show in Hebrew such as Hatufim (Prisoners of War) and turns it into Homeland, the Claire Danes Showtime drama about a bipolar CIA agent. Other times, Israeli shows have become hits without being remade. The past two years have seen the worldwide success of Fauda, a tense and thrill-packed series from Israel’s YES cable network about a counterterrorism unit and the terrorists they fight. The subtitled version of the show, which is half in Hebrew and half in Arabic, has become a huge hit for Netflix. 

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Triumphs of Reason at the United Nations

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