The greatest Israeli leader, ever: Documented
(Miami, January 12, 2020)—A documentary film on Menachem Begin is currently in progress, with completion anticipated in mid-2020. Targum Shlishi has awarded a grant to support post-production work on this important project. This year is the fortieth anniversary of the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, and the filmmakers see this milestone as a fitting time to produce a documentary that will increase awareness of Israel’s sixth prime minister and his life story while also exploring what his life tells us about Israel and the Jewish people.
Goals of the Film
The film is a project of the organization Hidden Light Institute (Ohr Hatzafun Productions), which was created for the purpose of producing this film. The impetus for making the film, according to the filmmakers, is both to document Begin’s life story and to tell the story of the Jewish people and the history of Israel through his biography, and particularly through the lens of his vision and leadership,
One of the film’s objectives is to counter a growing trend in the media and academia to delegitimize Israel with tactics such as inaccurate portrayals, skewing facts, and overlooking Israel’s many contributions. “The success of Israel is the story of the liberation of the Jewish people. This is epitomized in the story of the life of Menachem Begin. His life story reflects his legacy of security, democracy, liberty, and inclusivity,” explains Rob Schwarz, founder of Hidden Light Institute.\
Menachem Begin’s Life
The film will highlight key aspects of Begin’s history, among them being imprisoned by the Soviets and orphaned by the Holocaust. He founded the Likud party, advocated for the underserved and disenfranchised, was elected Israel’s sixth prime minister, made peace with Egypt, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and bombed Iraq’s Osirik nuclear reactor.
Filming has taken place in Israel and the United States. Extensive archival research was conducted, in part to include rarely seen archival materials in the film. The filmmakers have completed in-depth interviews with more than twenty Israelis and Americans to date, including many historical figures:
- Aharon Barak, legal advisor for negotiating the Camp David Accords and former attorney general of Israel and president of the Supreme Court of Israel
- AryeNaor, Begin’s cabinet secretary
- William Quandt, National Security staff member actively involved in negotiating the Camp David Accords
- David Ivry, the Israeli Air Force commander who oversaw the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor
- Yossi Nachmias, a ninety-six-year-old Irgun member who was a company commander on the Altalena
- Yona Klimovitsky, Begin’s former secretary
- Ron Ben Yishai, award-winning Israeli journalist who informed Israeli Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon of the Sabra and Shatila massacre during the Lebanon War
- Daniel Limor, the Mossad agent responsible, at the behest of Begin, for “Operation Brothers,” the evacuation of Ethiopian Jews to Israel through a fake Red Sea diving resort
- Avi Shilon, author of Menachem Begin: A Life
- Rabbi Meir Soloveichik
Need for the Film
“This film will serve the important purpose of educating people—both Jews and non-Jews—about a remarkable man and about the history and reality of Israel and the Jewish people,” says Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi. “Begin has much to teach us through the example of his life, and as the filmmakers point out, his life story is also in certain ways the story the Jewish people and Israel.”
The director Jonathan Gruber has been contracted to work on the film, and he conducted the interviews to date, with more planned for the future. The production stage of the filmmaking was completed in late September 2019, and the film is currently in post-production, with a major fundraising push currently underway to raise funds for post-production and marketing and distribution.
About Hidden Light Institute (Ohr Hatzafun Productions)
The mission of the organization is to be able to tell the story of the Jewish people and the history of Israel through the lens of Menachem Begin’s life. This nonprofit organization was created as a vehicle to raise the funds to produce a documentary on Menachem Begin. This is a passion project for the people spearheading this initiative. The organization has engaged recognized Jewish leadership across the country and across the religious spectrum to support this initiative. Beginning in 2017, the organization has hosted multiple events in the United States and London to elevate the conversation around Menachem Begin and feed a growing movement dedicated to the advancement of Begin’s legacy. To learn more, visit the Hidden Light Institute website.
About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation, is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website. Follow Aryeh Rubin, Targum Shlishi’s director, on Twitter..