A recently recovered film—documentary but not a documentary, in the sense that it’s literal documentation of Jews leaving…I think it’s the Ukraine, during one of the particularly heinous periods, though before the horrors of the Soviet revolution.
The parts that we saw showed the Jews getting on a boat, after having paid considerable fees to the corrupt officials to get out, and to pass through—well, there’s the chilling thing: Every thing they sail past I’m thinking: “Oh, yeah, those guys would kill them. So would they. They’re goners if they stop there…”
When they finally arrive in Palestine, it’s kind of amazing to see the barrenness, in which a few institutional buildings have been constructed. Schools, farms, a cultural center, and so on. While it’s pretty upbeat in its way, the children are being physically trained—prepared for the conflict that would inevitably come (as it had so often in the past).
But it’s literally just film. There’s no soundtrack to what we saw. There was a guy actually there, pointing out things. “My great-bubba’s home movies from her trip to Palestine.” (This was part of the L.A. Jewish Film Festival. We have a lot of Jewish film festivals here.)
There is no small significance to this: The Jews had a presence in Palestine, were actually called Palestinians before 1917 if I’m not mistaken, and (despite recent revisionism) didn’t suddenly appear in Tel Aviv in 1946.
That said, The Boy and I were relieved when about 20-30 minutes into it, they wrapped up and showed us a real movie (Operation: Sunflower). We don’t really have the connection to Israel most of the audience had.
You can watch an hour of it on YouTube if you’re so inclined, this narrated by someone in…I dunno, Hebrew? Didn’t sound Yiddish to me. It doesn’t cover all of what we saw, nor did we see all of what is covered here.