URI Hillel presented “Above and Beyond,” a film about an often overlooked part of Israeli history, this past Tuesday night in Swan Auditorium.
“Above and Beyond,” produced by Nancy Spielberg and directed by Roberta Grossman, is a documentary about a pivotal part in the state of Israel’s history. Shortly after Palestine was partitioned in 1948, the newly independent Israel faced advances from the forces of five different Arab countries, all looking to wipe them off the map.
Without an air force, there was no way for Israel to defend itself. The film focuses on the American veterans and other foreign World War II veterans who went against the orders of their countries to help the people that were persecuted only a few years before. The pilots that went on this mission eventually formed what would later become the Israeli Air Force, one of the strongest aerial warfare groups in the world.
The movie shines light on what would otherwise be a little-known story, but turned out to be one of the more interesting developments in the post WWII world. In the movie, complex plans and globe trotting that these troops undertook to get their planes and weapons close enough to Israel without being detected are depicted.
The filmmakers conducted interviews with several of the surviving pilots and family members of the ones who have passed away, including Paul Reubens (also know as Pee-wee Herman) talking about the heroic contributions of his father, Milton Rubenfeld. In one of the film’s most memorable moments, Reubens and his mother discuss a humorous anecdote about his father crash landing in Israel, and in order to convince the Israelis that he wasn’t an Arab, his father just said random Yiddish words such as “Shabbos” and “Gefilte Fish.”
URI Hillel’s Jewish Student Life Associate Yaniv Havusha agreed that one of the reasons he wanted to present the film was to shine light on “the unheard story of chutzpah, like it says on the DVD cover.”
Havusha said that he hopes by people could gain greater knowledge of this little-known piece of history.
”It’s a little known story about the Israeli Defense Forces and hopefully it’ll provide people with a new passion and interest in Israel,” he said. “Hopefully, maybe people now want to go see the land and learn more about the Air Force and the Defense Forces.”
Following the film, Hillel’s Israeli Emissary Gilor Meshulam spoke to the audience about his time in the Israeli Air Force and how his experiences related to the pioneers who started it.