Families of 3 Israeli filmmakers in DSS custody demand release of their kins
The families of Israeli filmmakers, Rudy Rochman, Andrew (Noam) leibman, and Edouard David Benaym, presently detained by the Nigerian Department of State Services (DSS) have asked for the release of their kins, saying they are just filmmakers, not criminals.
The trio of Rudy, Andrew, and Edouard David were detained by DSS on July 9 and continues to hold the three in its custody.
The families made the demand in a statement made available to ElombahNews on Wednesday
In the statement, the families said they are clarifying facts surrounding the arrest and detention, as well as eliminate false speculations.
They insisted Rudy, Andrew, and Edouard David are presently in Nigeria as part of a documentary filmmaking effort to explore the lives and customs of Jewish communities around the world.
According to the families, they were working for over a year to create a documentary series titled, “We were Never Lost (www.wewereneverlost.com), designed to educate viewers about the religious and cultural experiences of lesser-known Jewish communities.
The game plan goal is to interview members of Jewish communities across multiple African countries, along with Jewish communities in China, India, Afghanistan, and others with Nigeria as the first filming destination.
This documentary, they said, is neither intended to make any political statements nor endorse any political movements.
Rather, they said, they are “simply there to observe the communities, learn about their experiences with Judaism, and explain some of the documentary filmmaking process to those involved with the production”.
Also, the crew acts as a guest visiting the country and its various communities without any political overtones.
Furthermore, the crew brings gifts with cultural symbolism to the communities it planned to visit and in this case the Jewish Torah.
“In Judaism, it is considered a good deed to give the gift of a Torah, which is the Hebrew Bible from which Jewish communities around the world read their scripture,” the statement said.
However, members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) took advantage of the images of the filmmakers gifting a Torah to a local community.
“These politically motivated actors have taken a simple gesture of kindness and twisted it in an attempt to create an alternate meaning,” the families lamented.
They insisted, nonetheless, “that the filmmaking crew does not have any political intentions, that their visit is purely for educational filmmaking purposes, and that the filmmakers do not support the actions of any local groups that have tried to assign their own political meaning to the activities of the filmmaking team”.
The families said they have involved the U.S., Israeli and French Embassies on the matter, and we greatly appreciate the attention they have given to the situation.
They expressed delight at the possibility to deliver “Kosher meals prepared by the local Chabad” to the filmmakers while in custody.
They also hope that the DSS will quickly conclude their investigations and released the team from custody as soon as possible.
See below a copy of the statement: