A Film about the Israeli War of Independence Still Worth Watching

April 15 2021

Released in 1955, Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer tells the story of four soldiers of very different backgrounds in the nascent IDF whose squad participates in an assault on the titular hill in 1948. Stuart Schoffman, who first saw the movie when he was seven, and recently re-watched it, believes it has withstood the test of time in a way better-known films like Exodus have not:

Widely forgotten today, Hill 24 was the first Israeli feature film, with a big budget of $400,000. The dialogue is in English with dollops of Hebrew. Directed by British filmmaker Thorold Dickinson, it’s an engaging neorealist melodrama, neatly packed into 101 minutes, with a stirring score by Paul Ben-Haim performed by the IDF Symphony Orchestra and a memorable cameo by Shoshana Damari, the great Yemenite Israeli chanteuse, as a Druze ululating in Arabic.

In 2003, the director Martin Scorsese told a British interviewer that “Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer is a unique film,” comparing Dickinson’s “rich sense of place” in action sequences to that of Alfred Hitchcock. “Dickinson is never afraid to push the emotion in a scene, and that’s rare in British film-making.”

In the back of the army truck that carries them to their destiny, the members of the squad share their backstories, starting with Jim Finnegan (Edward Mulhare, who later starred in The Ghost & Mrs. Muir on TV). As a British policeman serving in Haifa, he had been assigned to capture Holocaust refugees, illegal immigrants to British Mandatory Palestine. In the process, he fell in love with Miriam Miszrahi (Haya Harareet, later the love interest in Ben-Hur), a Jew, who was a supporter of the Zionist underground.

Inevitably, Finnegan, an incurable Irish romantic, switches sides, quits the police, and volunteers for the Haganah. . . . Finnegan quite naturally identifies with the downtrodden Jews, and the maverick British director identifies with Finnegan.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Film, Israeli history, Israeli War of Independence, Philo-Semitism

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy