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Preview of Ben Gurion Epilogue at Winnipeg International Jewish Film Festival: A Rare Gem with Close Up View of Historic figure

by Rhonda Spivak


Ben-Gurion Epilogue is a  fascinating film which is comprised of an unseen interview  conducted  with an 82 year old quick witted David Ben-Gurion (who speaks  in English with a thick Polish accent) shortly after his wife Paula dies. The interview is conducted in his spartan home on Kibbutz Sde Boker. There are some very interesting parts of the film, which  interweaves s scenes with Ben-Gurion and actual newsfootage from the time.
I found of particular interest the scene where Ben-Gurion talks about the time he made the controversial and unpopular decision of  to accepting  German reparations . "Adenaur was not a  Nazi " Ben-Gurion says, reflecting on his secret deal with Konrad Adenaur to  have Germany supply Israel with arms. "The Nazis were criminals but not their children." The documentary  flashes to  footage of the mass demonstrations of Israelis who were against Ben-Gurion's pragmatic decision. We see signs of  "Genocide has no price" and then footage of Menachem Begin who opposed Ben-Gurion's decision. Since I was not alive at the time and had never before seen this historic footage it was  riveting.
The documentary  gives us an intimate look at what went on inside Ben-Gurion’s heart and mind over the years. The  1968 interview presented in the film was discovered in the Spielberg Archives, and was conducted after he left the government to retire. (He had served as Israel’s first Prime Minister for 13 years, and was then its Minister of Defense)
Also of significance is the footage in the film where Ben-Gurion opposes the settler movement's desire to retain a Greater Israel. He says candidly "If I would jave a choice between peace and all the territories we conquered last year [in the Six Day War]I would prefer peace." He adds that this is his view "because I know" that within the pre-67 borders of Israel "we could settle as many Jews as are likely to come within the next 20-40 years." He clarifies that he believes Israel should withdraw form all of the territories except for Jerusalem and the Golan. 
In other parts of the film,  Ben-Gurion refects on his relationship with his wife Paula, who  when she met Ben-Gurion thought  that America was better than Israel, but because of him agreed to moved to the Holy land in 1919 
then years later she thought he was crazy when he decided to move to Sde Boker in the dessert. There is a poignant part of the film that shows how when there was a food shortage in the early years of the state Paula Ben-Gurion didn' eat many meals . Ben -Gurion didn't know this as she told him she ate earlier with the children.
The film also has memorable footage of the squat Ben-Gurion doing headstands and talking about yoga, and he and his wife swimming.
All told the film is a rare gem, which is worthwhile in that it presents such an up-close view of such an historic figure. 
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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.