Over the Shavuot/Memorial Day weekend, I watched an extraordinary film. In its simplest terms, the film might be described (as a New York Times reviewer has written) as follows: “Produced by Nancy Spielberg (sister of Steven Spielberg), the documentary ‘Above and Beyond’ recounts the story of Jewish American pilots who, beginning in 1948, secretly fought for Israel in its war of independence, when the Israeli military was nascent.”
It’s an amazing story. To be sure, it’s not without its discomforts. For starters, the American Jews who participated in this effort were risking their U.S. citizenship. But by the end of the film, one can’t help thinking of the devastating consequences had they not made the choices that they did.
The same NYT reviewer mentioned above also notes that “the movie’s one-sided view of history is bound to start arguments.” Maybe. But if this is a “one-sided view of history,” it’s also an accurate view of history. For instance, the Arab countries’ 1947 rejection of the U.N. Partition Plan that would have created the first-ever Palestinian state is included as part of the prelude to Israel’s War of Independence. Not everyone is cognizant of this pre-history to Israel’s declaration of statehood. Is its inclusion what the reviewer means by “one-sided”?
Regardless, I strongly recommend this film, especially for anyone who wants to learn more about the establishment of the State of Israel and the contributions of American Jews to that achievement. Above and Beyond can be viewed via (some) on-demand cable companies, iTunes, and at screenings. You’ll find more information on the film’s website.