In the past week I watched two moving and important films now streaming on Netflix that offer insight into the origins of the modern State of Israel and the development of Israel through the experience of one of the most important of Israel’s founding generation, the late Prime Minister and President of the State Shimon Peres.
I highly recommend both to your viewing this summer and especially hope that young liberal and progressive American Jews (from junior high school age through their millennial years) who may be unsure of or question their relationship with Israel to watch both of them.
“Image of Victory – תמונת הניצחון,” a 128-minute 2021 film based on true events that took place during the 1948 Israeli Independence War and was set in a kibbutz called “Nitzavim” on the Mediterranean coast between the Gaza Strip and Tel Aviv. In a ferocious battle between the Egyptian forces and about 200 young Israelis between the ages of 16 and 25, one cannot help but be moved and impressed by the courage of those young Israelis who gave their lives for the infant Jewish state or were taken as POWs by the Egyptian army. The battle that completely destroyed the kibbutz under Egyptian missiles and tanks is viewed from both the Egyptian and Israeli perspectives. The film, directed by Avi Nesher, was nominated for 15 Israeli Ophir awards and is the most expensive film ($5 million) ever shot in Israel. The film crew recreated in its entirety the former Nitzavim settlement only to destroy it with guns and tanks as the Egyptians did so long ago. The film is streaming on Netflix in Hebrew and Arabic with English sub-titles.
“Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres” is a moving two-hour documentary including portions of more than 50 hours of interviews with the former Israeli Prime Minister and President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres including discussion of his origins in Belarus, his relationship with his learned and revered grandfather, his teen-age years during the British Mandate helping to build up agriculture, and his close relationship with Israel’s founding Prime Minister and Minister of Defense David Ben Gurion. The film reveals Peres’ key roles in building up Israel’s Defense capability, in launching the famed 1976 Entebbe Rescue, developing a Jordanian peace deal with King Hussein in 1987, his advocacy of the Oslo Peace Process, his complex relationship with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and his role in inspiring Israel to become a hi-tech society. The film is streaming on Netflix and is in English.
Taken together, these two films amply show the courage, vision, ingenuity, and dreams for peace of the respective subjects.