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9/10
The ultimate insider's look at some of Israel's greatest leaders
paul-allaer19 February 2016
A couple of years ago, a great documentary called "The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers" was released. It was supposed to be the first of two documentaries that are based on the bestselling book "The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership" by Yehuda Avner who served under a slew of prime ministers in his lifetime. But then, for reasons unknown, the second documentary never came bout... until now! "The Pioneers" focused on Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir.

"The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers" (2015 release; 115 min.) opens with the unruly times in 1947, in the days and months leading up to the establishment of the state of Israel, and pretty quickly zooms in on two figures: Yitzhah Rabin and Menachem Begin. Avner became Rabin's personal adviser and it is clear that he thinks the world of Rabin, as he speaks reverently of Rabin. The documentary focuses on Israel's complicated relationship with its neighbors. When Begin stuns the political world in 1977 to win the elections, Avner is equally stunned when Begin offers him a job to continue as the prime minister's personal adviser. "You do know that I am not a member of your party?", stutters Avner to Begin. Begin waives off the issue, and Avner takes the job. The documentary then zeroes in on what would eventually become the Camp David Accords (with President Carter, whose administration is not viewed all that favorably in this documentary), and later the treaty between Israel and the PLO (under President Clinton). The historical footage is so overwhelming, it brought tears to my eyes when you see how relatively simple things were back in the late 70s as compared to today's mess in the Middle East.

I don't know what caused this documentary to be delayed so long. The documentary does mention the passing of Yehuda Avner in March of 2015. What a great man that guy was. As good as "The Pioneers" was, "Soldiers and Peacemakers" is even better, and makes for compelling viewing. It should be mandatory viewing for all US high school kids. The documentary played briefly at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati in December, 2015, and the early evening screening where I saw this at was attended just okay, which is a darn shame. If you want to get the ultimate insider's look at some of Israel's greatest leaders, you cannot go wrong with this. "The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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