A documentary film on Menachem Begin is currently in progress, with completion anticipated in mid-2020. The impetus for making the film, according to the filmmakers, is not only to communicate Begin’s life story but also, through his biography and particularly through the lens of his vision and leadership, to tell the story of the Jewish people and the history of Israel. “This year is the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty,” Philip Rosen, executive producer of the film, said. “This milestone is a fitting time to produce a documentary that will increase awareness not only of Israel’s sixth prime minister’s life story but also of what his life tells us about Israel and the Jewish people.”
Filming has taken place in Israel and the United States so far. The filmmakers have conducted more than 20 in-depth interviews with such noted figures as:Aharon Barak, legal advisor for negotiating the Camp David Accords and former attorney general and president of the Supreme Court of Israel; David Ivry, the Israeli Air Force commander who directed the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor; Yossi Nachmias, a 96-year-old Irgun member who was on the Altalena and forcibly pushed Menachem Begin into the water to save his life when the shooting began; and Ron Ben Yishai, award-winning Israeli journalist who informed Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon of the Sabra and Shatila Massacre during the Lebanon War.
In today’s climate of rising anti-Semitism and misrepresentation of Israel on college campuses and in the greater world, the number of people—in particular, Jewish students—who don’t understand or know Jewish history is astounding and the number is only rising. “They know there was a Holocaust, but they don’t know anything about the Zionist movement, the miracle of the State of Israel, or its founding fathers,” said Rob Schwartz, founder of Hidden Light Institute (HLI), the nonprofit organization funding the film. “We are producing a film that will encourage conversation, generate excitement and pride in their Jewish heritage and history, and instill a deeper understanding of a controversial, remarkable and principled leader—Menachem Begin.”
The political landscape today, both in Israel and throughout the Diaspora, is littered with opportunists and those who would flip a policy position for a few votes or a hefty check. As we, the youth of today and leaders of the Jewish people tomorrow, look to do better than the status quo, we can draw much inspiration from one of modern Israel’s founders, Menachem Begin. A dynamic leader and spokesman, Begin was and is still considered unique because of his ability to truly understand those he served and their practical needs. Menachem Begin was so talented in this regard because he did not view himself as simply a powerful political figure, but rather Begin fully immersed himself in and lived a role in a narrative far greater than himself. He genuinely viewed himself as a player in the advancement of a 3,700 year old Jewish history and Israel’s timeless values and aspirations. He was certainly not perfect, but Begin’s resolute connection with the eternal spirit of the Jewish nation gives us plenty from which to learn. Media engages young people, and a documentary is a great channel for telling Menachem Begin’s story.
Joseph Block, a 19-year-old from White Plains, is currently studying at Yeshivat HaKotel in Jerusalem. A recent graduate of SAR High School in Riverdale, he will be starting Columbia University in the Fall of 2020. This January he will be running on the Vision ticket for the World Zionist Elections.