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In 1948, a group of World War II pilots volunteered to fight for Israel in the War of Independence. As members of 'Machal' -- volunteers from abroad -- this ragtag band of brothers not only turned the tide of the war, preventing the possible annihilation of Israel at the very moment of its birth; they also laid the groundwork for the Israeli Air Force. ABOVE AND BEYOND is their story. The first major feature-length documentary about the foreign airmen in the War of Independence, ABOVE AND BEYOND brings together new interviews with pilots from the '48 War, as well as leading scholars and statesmen, including Shimon Peres, to present an extraordinary, little-known tale with reverberations up to the present day.Written by
"I believe that peace with the Palestinians is most urgent - urgent than ever before. It is necessary. It is crucial. It is possible. A delay may worsen its chances. Israel and the Palestinians are, in my judgment, ripe today to restart the peace process." Shimon Peres
For all the fictional heroes Hollywood cranks out, nothing can compare with Above and Beyond, a documentary about the origin of the Israeli Air Force in 1948 and the Jewish perspective about the splitting of Palestine. Regardless of where your sympathies lie, Arab or Jew, after watching this fascinating documentary, you'll have to agree the 600,000 Jews fighting millions of Arabs is pretty heroic stuff.
The conflict begins with the United Nations' resolution to split Palestine and the British decision to vacate. The Jewish people are aware they're vulnerable as Arabs prepare to take over the precious land. Enter mostly volunteer Jewish-American former WWII pilots ready to fly whatever planes they can muster to help the Jews ward off the imminent Arabic takeover.
While this may sound like a set up for the usual ego-talking-head doc, Above and Beyond (a title that works well for sacrifices and heroism) is a sincere testimonial from actual Jewish and other pilots who risked their lives for underdogs. Archival footage of the Jewish planes (four at the beginning, woefully inadequate and impotent), lend the authenticity, while the comments from the pilots give the doc the humanity it needs to show the war a conflict that won't easily be settled by any number of warplanes and ammo.
The first-person commentary by the pilots and others like Shimon Peres makes the Jewish bias (e.g., Palestinian refugees are barely noticed) palatable by displaying a sincere love of nation as opposed to violent chauvinism. The nights spent carousing before battle are sweet rather than crass, just boys and girls having a good time before death takes over. In other words, this doc splendidly displays the best of mankind regardless of nationalism or base ambition.
If you're put off by the obvious biases of documentarians like Michael Moore, then see Above and Beyond because the bias is benign. While I'm thinking of it, Steven Spielberg's sister, Nancy, is a producer—the provenance of this film is solid. If nothing else, you'll understand why Arabs and Israelis fight even today for the land they struggled for over 60 years ago.
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