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Zionism, Pre-State Palestine and Birth of Israel

Altalena (1994)

53 minutes
Israel, Color/B&W, English and Hebrew with English subtitles
Director: Ilana Tsur

This documentary examines the 1948 episode of the Altalena, a ship whose fate nearly incited a civil war in the newly-established State of Israel. Immediately after Israel attained statehood, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion established a national army into which several independent Jewish defense forces were supposed to unite. However, on June 20, 1948, the Altalena arrived in Israel carrying 930 World War II refugees and a stockpile of ammunition amassed by the Irgun (one of the independent defense forces) in violation of Ben Gurion's new military chain-of-command. Ben Gurion gave an order to shell the ship, forcing Jews to fire on Jews, killing 16 Irgun members. The controversy surrounding the Altalena affair continues to reverberate in current Israeli politics. Original black and white newsreel footage, news clippings, photos and interviews with participants on both sides recreate this tragic event in Israel's history.

"The film contains vivid interviews from participants on both sides, interspersed with shots done by panning the camera across still photographs taken at the time. The riveting footage, emotion-wracked recollections by participants on both sides, the mind-boggling fact of Jew firing on Jew and the power play between Begin and Ben-Gurion make this extraordinary documentary a must-see!" - Jewish Forward

"Evocative... well-researched... The viewer is haunted by the faces of those Tsur interviewed from both sides, themselves still struggling to find a place to store the piercing memory." - The Jewish Week

Purchasing & Rental Instructions:
Contact Info (phone, fax): 
Telephone: (781) 899-7044    
Fax: (781) 736-2070


Exodus 1947: The Ship That Launched a Nation (1996)

56 minutes
USA, Color, English
Directors: Elizabeth Rodgers and Robby Henson

Narrated by Morley Safer, this is a documentary about the Aliya Bet ship "Exodus 1947", secretly financed and crewed by American Jews. In the summer of 1947, this dilapidated Baltimore steamer run by former Jewish-American GI's took aboard 4,500 Holocaust survivors in Southern France and sailed for Palestine. Unable to run the British blockade, the immigrants battled the British and were sent back to Displaced Persons Camps in Germany—a horrible destination for survivors of the Holocaust. Newsreels of this event and concern over the plight of the passengers galvanized international support for the creation of the State of Israel. The film includes interviews with former crew members and passengers as well as newsreel footage

"This splendid, carefully researched and assembled documentary is chock-full of fascinating details as it recalls a courageous, complex and dangerous mission with immense consequences." - Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

Purchasing & Rental Instructions: 7th Art Releasing
Contact Info
Telephone: 323-259-8259

Flames of Revolt: The Story of the Irgun (1994)

100 minutes

Documentary from the perspective of former Irgun (or Etzel, acronym for Irgun Tzva Leumi) members about the history and actions of the Irgun——one of three Jewish underground military organizations that fought to bring about the establishment of the State of Israel. Highlighted are the bombing of the British headquarters in the King David Hotel, the breakout from the Acre prison, and the sinking of the Altalena. Includes historic film footage as well as interviews with Irgun commanders and fighters (including Menachem Begin), British intelligence officers and historians.

Purchasing & Rental Instructions: Ergo Media Inc.
Contact Info (phone, email): 
Telephone: (201) 692-0404     


In Our Own Hands: The Hidden Story of the Jewish Brigade in World War II (1998)

85 minutes
USA, Color/B&W
Director: Chuck Olin

This film traces the history and the activities of the Jewish Brigade of the British army—the only all-Jewish fighting unit in World War II, which was composed of young Jewish men living in Palestine. The film begins with the men in 1995, at a 50th reunion at the scene of their major battle fought in Italy, and includes interviews with them throughout. The film's focus, however, is on the operations of the Brigade after the war. In post-war Europe, these young soldiers formed secret vengeance squads to assassinate Nazi officers in hiding, and engineered the rescue and illegal movement of Holocaust survivors to Palestine. Brigade veterans were also instrumental in helping to organize and lead the new Israel Defense Forces in 1948, in Israel's War of Independence. The film sheds light on an important and little known chapter in Jewish history.

Purchasing & Rental Instructions:
Contact Info (phone, fax): 
Telephone: (781) 899-7044    
Fax: (781) 736-2070


Israel's Forgotten Heroes (1999)

60 minutes
Director: Jerry Levine

Winner of 1999 Emmy for Best Documentary

A riveting documentary tribute to the American men and women who actively helped in the creation of the State of Israel from 1945-1949. Hal Linden presents this story of the men and women—Jews and non-Jews—who, despite the perils involved, played a crucial role in the founding of Israel. The program features firsthand accounts from Americans who went to Israel and helped fight for Israel's independence—or who aided Israel by providing weapons and aircraft. Many of these inPiduals were veterans of World War II or Americans who were affected by the plight of Holocaust survivors and wanted to help ensure that a Jewish homeland was established. The film features archival footage, vintage photographs and first person accounts from Americans who participated in Israel's War of Independence.

Purchasing & Rental Instructions:
Higher Authority Productions, Inc. (HAP)
10800 Biscayne Boulevard,
Suite 800,
FL 33161

Contact Info (phone, fax, email):  Telephone
:(305) 899-3002
Fax: (305) 899-3003


Pillar of Fire: A Television Series (Hebrew version, 1979)
(abridged English version DVD release, 2005)

7 hours
Israel, English
Produced, Written by Yigal Lossin, Israel Broadcasting Authority
Director: Ya'akov Eisenman
Narrator (English version): Ian McKellen

The DVD release in English is an abridged version of the highly acclaimed Israeli TV mini-series, "Amud Ha'esh," documenting the history of modern Zionism, from its inception in the 1890s to the establishment of the modern day state of Israel in 1948, against the background of events that led to its development and shaped its character. The seven part series includes:

Part 1: The Jews Returns—The Arab Awakens (1896-10)
Part 2: The Dream (1914-19)
Part 3: The Rise & Fall of German Jewry (1919-1936)
Part 4: Who\'s Afraid of a Jewish State? (1937-1939)
Part 5: Holocaust (1939-1945)
Part 6: Exodus (1945-1947)
Part 7: A Nation Reborn (1947-1948)

Available from


The Long Way Home (1997)
here for CAMERA review of film

116 minutes
USA, Color, B&W
Director: Mark Jonathan Harris

Winner of the 1997 Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary

This powerful film documents the plight of Holocaust survivors between 1945 and 1948——from liberation to the creation of the State of Israel. Using archival footage, interviews, and personal accounts from diaries and letters, it examines what happened to displaced Jewish refugees determined to reach Palestine after the war. The film shows a post-war political climate that was surprisingly hostile to the Jewish refugees, who had suffered so much during the war. It also focuses on how Zionism and the hope of a Jewish homeland gave many survivors the incentive to continue living. Includes interviews with survivor Rabbi Israel Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel, as well as interviews with other survivors; two U.S. Army chaplains stationed in Europe after liberation; a member of the Bricha.

Moriah Films, Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Online Store



What I Saw in Hebron (1999)

73 minutes
Israel, Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles
Producer: Michal Arram
Director: Noit Geva & Dan Geva

Seventy years after the 1929 Hebron massacre, directors Noit and Dan Geva bring us the personal testimony of 12 people who survived the atrocity. Noit Geva's grandmother, who was only 16 years old at the time of the massacre, was so traumatized by the event that she never spoke of her experience, but recorded what she witnessed in a journal entry entitled "What I Saw in Hebron." This gripping documentary allows a rare glimpse into a little-known moment in Israel's history.

Purchasing & Rental Instructions:
Contact Info (phone, fax): 
Telephone: (781) 899-7044    
Fax: (781) 736-2070