New documentary explores the life and career of Menachem Begin – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on May 29, 2021

Just before midnight on May 17, 1977, a new word entered the Israeli Hebrew language encapsulating the unexpected success of an out-of-favor politician. It has since been picked up by marketers and applied in popular culture to describe revolutionary changes like a woman changing her hair color or a family moving from a backwater Israeli town to a high-rise condo in Tel Aviv. The word is mahapach.Creating the most iconic moment in Israels television broadcast history, Channel Ones avuncular and statesman-like anchorman Haim Yavin Israels Walter Cronkite had all eyes on him as election results slowly rolled in. As he recently related, there was no other way to report what I was witnessing, no one had in mind Menachem Begin becoming the leader of the people.I thought to myself as my statistician handed me the results and whispered, Hey, Begin won the election. I must tell the audience, not in a detailed way, but in a very short concise way: We were witnessing history.

Somewhere in my memory, Yavin recalled, a word from the Talmud I didnt know exactly from what connection but I knew the word, mapecha, the Hebrew word for revolution.

I played with the word, which was my second job, and modified it in the moment to mahapach. More revolutionary than revolution, as this was an election by ballots not a revolution of bullets.

The American filmmakers of a new documentary on the life of Menachem Begin to debut on June 7, found the May 1977 black & white film footage of Yavins election-night broadcast and knew the word captured both the moment and key events of Menachem Begins life.

I turned to the director, said Denver-based producer Rob Schwartz, and said thats the title! We translated it to upheaval which became the title of our film.

cnxps.cmd.push(function () { cnxps({ playerId: '36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b' }).render('4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6'); });

In several conversations with the filmmakers, participants and nonparticipants who knew Menachem Begin, the iconic word was discussed. Some, like Ariela Cotler, who was a very young Likud Party parliamentary whip thought it had a negative connotation. She had worked side-by-side with Begin when he led the opposition and then when he became leader of the government and prime minister. Cotler views mahapacha as taking power by force, an upheaval.

Upheaval is not a positive change, the results of a democratic election were a turnover, a shift in the will of the voters, said Cotler. Yet, she agreed, Hayim Yavins use of the word that night was very powerful, he summed up the psychic state of the people who created a turnover.

The original footage of that television news broadcast moment is just one of many which make Upheaval an out-of-the-ordinary documentary on the life of one of Israels historic figures. Maryland-based director Jonathan Gruber recruited a research team to comb both American and Israel television news libraries and found many moments of the famous news anchors of the day reporting key events in Israel and the incredible life of Menachem Begin.

GRUBER AND Schwartz worked closely during the creative process as Gruber explained, theres the film making, the story and there is the challenge of presenting someone as iconic as Menachem Begin.

Using rarely seen archival materials and intimate interviews with Israelis and Americans who knew Begin personally and as prime minister, the Upheaval team has created a film covering the entire arc of his life.

Both Schwartz and Gruber have personal drives that impacted their decisions during the making of Upheaval.

I was 10 years old when the Camp David Accords peace agreement happened, thats mainly my memory of Menachem Begin, said Gruber.

Yet, we had to share Begins story in totality, the negative stuff also had to come out in order to have any credibility, we had to talk about things that didnt reflect well; that was very important.

For Schwartz, a retired healthcare executive, it was a book that sparked his interest that lit the fire to aspire to make, an award-winning documentary on the life of Menachem Begin.

I had read former political adviser, speechwriter and diplomat Yehuda Avners 2010 history The Prime Ministers and found the coverage of Menachem Begin the most compelling, Schwartz recalled. I was moved and tried to find an English language film to watch and couldnt find one.

Schwartz related a piece of synchronicity that provided the impetus behind getting Upheaval made when he recalled a dinner shortly after with former US senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut.

Joe asked me if Id read any good books lately? Schwartz recalled, I said The Prime Ministers and he said, me too! Schwartz continued, Whos your favorite? Sen. Lieberman asked me, I answered, Menachem Begin, he said, Me too!

The next day, Schwartz and Lieberman met in the senators NYC office and Lieberman offered to help with Schwartzs concept to make a full-length documentary film and together they began the planning, fundraising and recruiting of people to appear in Upheaval.

Of the several notable people interviewed for on-screen roles, author Yossi Klein Halevi summed up the importance and centrality and continued relevancy in contemporary Israel of Begins life and motivations.

You cant understand Israel today without understanding the legacy of Begin versus Ben Gurion, we live between two visions, radical contradictions of both men who played such key roles.

To this day, said Halevi, I love him (Begin) and will always love him.

The filmmakers have also worked closely with the Jerusalem-based Menachem Begin Heritage Center to extend the reach and impact of the film and are creating additional educational material for Israeli and international audiences.

The film will be screened on June 7th at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. Viewers can see Upheaval at its free international debut, outside of Israel, on June 7 at 8 p.m. ET on Facebook Live and streaming in virtual cinemas across the US beginning June 9. For more information and viewing options, visit the film website:

See the original post:

New documentary explores the life and career of Menachem Begin - The Jerusalem Post

Related Post


Comments are closed.