"Spotlight on the Middle East" started when a group of people saw that mass media portrayals of Israel were filled with misleading and incorrect information. These portrayals often showed Israelis as ruthless oppressors and the Palestinian Arabs as their helpless victims. In fact, the truth was just the opposite. It was the Arab side that had never accepted the existence of a Jewish state in its midst, had never wavered in its determination to destroy it, and had never considered any act of violence as being too barbaric in the pursuit of that goal. Israel, on the other hand, bent over backwards to try to show humanitarianism to the other side, despite all the provocations, and used only the minimum force necessary to protect its security. In an effort to dispel the myths surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict, and to present a more accurate view of what's happening in the Middle East, "Spotlight on the Middle East" was created.

About us

Production Team

Note: the biographical sketches below were written in 2005 and do not include more recent activities of the people named.

Phil Smaller, producer
Phil Smaller, producer of the show, has been involved with both video production and Israel for many years. His first introduction to video was as a physicist and engineer with Ampex Corp. in 1953. In 1970 he went on to start his own video business, Media Associates, and operated the company until 1997. His introduction to Israel started in 1936, when his aunt and uncle emigrated to Israel to cultivate an orange grove. He has a large number of family members still living in Israel, even though the orange grove was replaced by an office complex long ago. He has made a number of trips to Israel over the years. Phil is dedicated to the continuation of Israel as a homeland for Jews from all over the world, and he is proud of the country's accomplishments to date.

Martin Wasserman, co-producer & host
Martin Wasserman was the first to suggest that the group start its own cable show. His previous media experience includes a seven year stint as producer and host of A Deeper Look, a weekly radio interview show on KCSM-FM, and a one year stint as host of a weekly TV series, also called A Deeper Look, on KCSM-TV. A long time pro-Israel activist, he regularly contributes opinion pieces to Arutz Sheva, the Israeli radio station and website that upholds traditional Jewish values. He is a strong proponent of the idea that the land of Israel is the eternal heritage of the Jewish nation, and opposes any attempt to transfer ownership of any part of it to outside forces. Marty holds a degree in mathematics from Columbia University, and has spent much of his career designing high performance software tools for the semiconductor industry.

David Meir-Levi, Chief Presenter
David Meir-Levi is an American-born Israeli. He holds an MA in Near Eastern Studies from Brandeis University, and taught Archaeology and Near Eastern History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the University of Tel Aviv in the 60's and 70's. A professional Jewish educator, he has lectured throughout northern California and abroad at synagogues, churches, universities, and service organizations on topics related to the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the roots of terrorism in the Arab world. He lectures and teaches in English, Hebrew, and Spanish. He has a weekly radio show, “Mid-East Media Watch” at KZSU Stanford, is a frequent contributor to frontpagemag.com, and has been a frequent guest on radio talk shows in the USA, Israel and Latin America. In his “day job”, David is an insurance broker and investment professional, with offices in Menlo Park and San Francisco.

Don Mintz, Graphics Coordinator
Don's role on Spotlight involves assembling photos, titles, and credits to present during the show. Don has had a career in high tech industry, including over 22 years in the semiconductor equipment manufacturing business, the last 12 as a reliability engineer.  Before that he worked on analytical instruments and uranium isotope enrichment projects. He has a PhD in chemistry, is the author of several articles in the field of chemical dynamics and holds 14 patents. Don is past treasurer and adult education chair at Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto and is currently head usher at religious services there. He has traveled to Israel three times and has family living there.  His hobbies are fishing, backyard gardening, and bicycling.

Art Cohn, Researcher
Art has held numerous leadership positions in the Jewish community, including president of Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, vice president of Stanford Hillel, president of Palo Alto B’nai B’rith, co-chair of the South Peninsula Jewish Community Relations Council, vice president of the American Zionist Federation and chairman of its Energy Committee, and co-chair of the American-Israeli Energy Committee. He holds a PhD in physics with degrees from MIT and RPI, and has worked on advanced jet engines, plasma jets, lasers, coal liquefaction and gasification,and advanced gas turbine power plants. On the Spotlight program, he contributes to the selection of topics, and develops historical background information.

Magda Smaller, Publicity
Magda has scripted several of the Spotlight shows, helped design the studio set, and also designed flyers and stationery for the show. Her professional background includes nineteen years of medical, technical, and public relations writing and policy analysis, the last fifteen at Lockheed (1985-2000), and she holds degrees in Organizational Behavior and Public Policy Analysis. Magda's strong support for the Spotlight group has its roots in her experiences as a young child in Holland during World War II. The cruelty and humiliations she saw the Nazi occupation inflict on the Jews in Amsterdam started a life-long passion for justice for the children of Israel, first and foremost the right of return to the dignity of their homeland. Magda is married to Phil Smaller, the program’s producer, and is also active in the League of Women Voters.