Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time, but you don’t even know it. I was driving around Old Jaffa this morning, looking for parking before a meeting. I pulled into a parking lot, noticing some flimsy white paper signs that read, “Filming ‘Camp.’” I took note, but only long enough to realize that I wasn’t going to be parking in this particular lot and would have to seek a spot elsewhere.
Hours later, I heard that Gilad Shalit had just visited the set of “Homeland” — the US drama thriller about a US marine who is abducted by Al-Qaeda and returns home — which is filming in Israel this week. The filming, it turned out, was taking place around my hoped-for parking lot, in the gentrifying area of the Jaffa flea market.
It can be alternately thrilling or aggravating to have a television show filming in one’s neighborhood. But for the residents and visitors in this increasingly hip corner of town, the realization that Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was freed in October after five years in Hamas captivity, was in their midst, was infinitely more moving than the idea of American actors wandering around the neighborhood.
“I heard he was here today,” said the manager at Pua, a local cafe. “It’s hard to imagine that he’s just here, walking around like the rest of us.”
The campaign to free Shalit made him something of an icon in the Israeli public, and his release was an emotional time for the entire country. It would seem his visit to the “Homeland” set was more of the same, according to tonight’s video clip shown on “Good Evening with Guy Pines,” a nightly entertainment show.
The Pines piece showed Shalit watching some of the filming and meeting a few of the “Homeland” actors, including Mandy Patinkin, who plays a CIA division chief, Claire Danes, starring as a CIA officer, and Navid Negahban, an Iranian-born American actor who plays a high-ranking member of Al-Qaeda.
Shalit was invited to the set because he’s a fan of both “Homeland” and “Hatufim”, the Israeli television show on which “Homeland” is based. Both shows depict the saga of captured soldiers who return home, and their struggle to rebuild their lives while dealing with the difficulties of readjusting to regular life after living through the nightmare of imprisonment.
For Shalit, it’s all too familiar territory, and ironic, given the show’s tale of his own terrifying experience. Then again, perhaps it’s the fact that it’s only art imitating reality that appeals to Shalit, hopefully helpful in his journey back to regular life.