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.
“’Divided by politics, Israelis and Palestinians are united by a love for the same land with its rich indivisible history, and now even shared saints,’ the Pope could have declared, addressing Abbas and Rivlin in Rome, in a speech broadest simultaneously on Israeli and Palestinian television. He could have gone on to challenge members of both nations to consider what else unites them, and to suggest that shared saints is just one manifestation of how the Church could be a constructive bridge to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Pope could have deployed his moral authority in recent days to bring Palestinians and Israelis together, and send out a very real call for conciliation between them. Instead, he lent out this moral authority, and even the solemn rite of canonization, for diplomatic point-scoring.”
Source: Nathan Jeffay, “Pope No Saint On Palestinian Saints? Missed opportunity to stress unity on both sides of the Green Line.” (The Jewish Week)
As Yom Yerushalayim is observed today, I am reminded of a poem I wrote a few years ago. Titled “Jerusalem Dream,” the poem was a response to a challenge issued via The Missouri Review. You can read all about that poem–and the original challenge that inspired it–over here.
“What made me so distressed was not that SOCC had asked me about divestment, but that they had thought my Jewishness might make me a poor Senator. There are Jews who support divestment, there are Jews who do not take a position and there are Jews who are against divestment. My involvement in Hillel, my praying in synagogue, my love of the Hebrew language, my study of Talmud, my celebration of Rosh Hashanah and Hannukah and Purim and Passover have nothing to do with divestment.”
–Molly Horwitz, “Dear Stanford: Don’t Quiz Me on BDS Because I’m Jewish” (Forward)
Every Friday, My Machberet presents an array of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety. Yes, I know it’s not Friday. But I won’t be able to post then, as I’ll be on a brief “off-the-grid” hiatus. So here are the links, just a bit early. See you again next week!
Last Thursday I attended the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) awards ceremony. I was happy to see that The Essential Ellen Willis won in the Criticism category. I read that book after I discovered “Is There Still a Jewish Question? Why I’m an Anti-Anti-Zionist,” a truly “essential” essay. (Also taking top honors at the NBCC ceremony: Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? – one of my favorite reads of 2014.)
The March Jewish Book Carnival was posted on Sunday. Always worth reading.
UK-based Jewish Quarterly is hiring paid interns in journalism and in social media.
Also worthwhile: a cyber-roundtable with Jewish-fiction editors Yona Zeldis McDonough, Nora Gold, and Michelle Caplan (my colleague!), hosted by Barbara Krasner.
On the Fig Tree Books website, Rebekah Bergman reviews Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s Leaving Brooklyn.
And speaking of Fig Tree Books–last, but definitely not least: the March newsletter, with info on three ongoing giveaways of titles of Jewish interest and a whole lot more.
Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
Shabbat shalom–and see you next week!
“There’s no reason to spoil The Narrative, the great story of a benighted Israel governed by hard and bad men and growing increasingly intransigent and soulless and mean—as evidenced by their opposition to Obama’s attempts to reach a mutually-beneficial nuclear deal with Iran. When it comes to Israel, it’s the only story the Times knows how to tell, even when the facts get in the way. For that, we’ll always have The Correction.”
–Liel Leibovitz, “The Correction” (Tablet)