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by Rhonda Spivak ,October 20, 2015




The Jewish National Fund in Winnipeg is having a special screening of what looks to be a very fascinating and groundbreaking film, “Operation Sunflower” which is about Israel’s quest for a nuclear option beginning in the 1950’s or earlier. The acclaimed film based on actual events that took place will be screened on Monday November 2, 2015 at “Cineplex Theatres, 2190 McGillvray Blvd. CLICK HERE to buy tickets online or contact our office at [email protected] or call 204.947.0207



In 1945, Ben-Gurion , who was effectively the Prime Minister of  the about to be born state of Israel,  visited Germany’s death camps.  As a result of what he saw, and whom he spoke to , Ben-Gurion came to the conclusion that the Jewish people had to have every means of defense at their disposal. 
In June 1952, Ben-Gurion created the Israel Atomic Energy Commission.


Avraham Avi-hai , (a scholar and author who used to work in Prime Minister Ben-Gurion’s office and  who had a fictional role in Operation Sunflower) wrote a recent article in the Jerusalem Post, about the story of Israel’s search for nuclear materials.


As he wrote:


“But the tale of Israel’s search for nuclear materials began earlier. Whether by accident or by design, “materials” – I believe, though I heard it only from one source, now dead – materials hidden by the Nazis found their way to Israel. The search for materials – uranium in this case – began as well in the Negev.”


Ben-Gurion’s dictum was “We cannot match our enemies in quantity, but we must in quality.”


As Avi- Hai stressed in his article, “It was Ben-Gurion’s visit to the death camps, without a doubt, which made him do everything to ensure Israel’s existence.”


The lead role of the film is that of  Feuerberg , a character  based on the scientist in charge of the team that created Israel’s nuclear program, played by  Baruch Brenner , a Jerusalemite. He told the Jerusalem Post about the historical background of the film which he did not know and which was “surreal” 


“[Prime Minister David] Ben-Gurion lay awake nights worrying that Israel would be destroyed; he was afraid that Jews had come here from all over the world after the Shoah, and one bomb could destroy all of us


The film director of Operation Sunflower Avraham Kushnir  extensively researched all of the history and according to Brenner base the film “on fact.”


As Avi-Hai wrote in the Jerusalem Post, the film “ includes the moral dilemma of the scientists: Hiroshima versus Auschwitz; the complex relationships, the French connection.”


Technically, Israel pursues a policy of ‘ambiguity”, acknowledging “research” and options. As Avi-Hai wrote in the Jerusalem Post, he met a  former radio journalist Michael Karbin, who wrote “The Bomb in the Basement” and he was surprise by “how much information had passed [Israeli military censorship], “and how fascinating had been the search for the know-how.”


For his role in the film, Brenner told the Jerusalem Post that  he also  read a book that helped give him an idea of  the perspective of  nuclear scientists. As he told the Jerusalem Post, “They took the moral dilemma very seriously, and after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, most of them became peace activists or even went crazy... I also met with a physicist at Givat Ram in an old basement room.”


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.