Director of Censored Israeli Spy Documentary to Appeal to High Court

Nir Toib's documentary 'The Secret Kingdom' features interviews with a former research and development head for the Israel Defense Forces, who was accused of espionage.

The director of a controversial documentary about one of Israel's most notorious spy scandals will appeal to the Supreme Court on Thursday in an effort to overturn the military censor's decision to ban the film in its original form.

Poster of film 'The Secret Kingdom'

Nir Toib's documentary "The Secret Kingdom" features interviews with Brig. Gen. (res. ) Yitzhak "Yatza" Yaakov, Israel's first chief scientist and a former research and development head for the Israel Defense Forces, who was accused of espionage.

The verdict issued in the case by Tel Aviv District Court states that Yaakov also divulged nuclear secrets.

In his appeal, Toib will argue that the censor's decision "is unreasonable, based on ulterior motives, and harms the petitioners' fundamental rights." Toib and his attorneys will request the court issue an injunction so as to permit the film's entry (in its entirety ) in the Jerusalem Film Festival, which is scheduled to open on July 8.

The director will also argue before the court that throughout the filmmaking process he did not encounter material that had not previously been approved by the censor for public consumption. Toib says he cataloged a series of interviews with sources whose identities are not confidential.

Those who appear in the film include renowned nuclear and security experts like Dr. Avner Cohen, Dr. Ronen Bergman, Dr. Reuven Pedatzur, the head of the police investigations unit that probed the Yaakov case, the prosecutor in the trial, Yaakov's defense attorneys and Yaakov himself.

The film was due to be screened last year at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and was to be shown later on a cable TV documentary station, Channel 8. The military censors demanded that the film be cut so substantially that Toib had no choice but to withdraw it altogether, he said.

Toib intends to argue that the censor's editorial demands left the film "naked" and devoid of content and plot sequence to the point that it was left unfit for screening.