New American TV Series to Be Filmed at City of David

Arab residents of Silwan are less than elated at prospect.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The Keshet production company will film a new drama series for American network NBC in Jerusalem. Most of the filming will take place in the City of David national park, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

The series, entitled DIG, will be produced by Gideon Raff, producer of “Hatufim,” and Tim Kring, known for “Heroes” and “Touch.” The cost of the new series, which will have six episodes, is estimated in the tens of millions of dollars. The series will revolve around an FBI agent investigating the murder of an American archeologist in Jerusalem. During his investigation, the agent exposes a conspiracy, “the exposure of which could alter the course of history,” according to the press release issued by the Jerusalem municipality.

“It’s an achievement for the whole industry,” said Avi Nir, Keshet’s CEO. “It will be the first American series filmed in Israel."

Both Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett praised the project. “The new series is a significant milestone on the road as Jerusalem becomes an attractive location for international productions. Jerusalem’s rich history attracts series and films with great stories to tell,” said Barkat.

“The series will help brand Jerusalem as an international tourism destination,” added Bennett.

The City of David national park is one of Israel’s most popular in terms of visitors, but is also highly controversial. The park is run by the Elad organization, sanctioned by the Israel Parks and Nature Authority. Silwan residents have filed numerous complaints against Elad, which is also active settling Jewish families in the area.

Silwan resident have claimed that the organization makes use of the national park and the archaeological dig as a means to dispossess village residents, make the area more Jewish, and contest the Arab and Islamic historical narrative of the village. Jawad Siam, an activist from the village, sees the new television series as another step in the fight against his village. “It’s clear to me that they won’t tell our story. I call on the producers to visit us and hear our story, and then decide if their story is relevant or not,” he said.

A view of Silwan from the City of David excavations.Credit: Moshe Gilad