This Sunday night, Jews from all over the world started celebrating Hanukkah. The Jews struggled to achieve political sovereignty from the Seleucid Greeks in Judea and Samaria from 168 to 142 BCE, when the story of Hanukkah takes place, and also in recent times before and after the establishment of the modern state of Israel. To get in the Hanukkah spirit, the following TV shows and movies commemorate the struggles of the Jews in the modern state of Israel.
Above and Beyond (2014). A documentary about the true story of American Jewish pilots who, after their service in World War II, go to Israel to fight in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, and build its nascent air force.
Bethlehem (2013). A gritty Israeli drama centering around the relationship of an Israeli secret service agent and his Palestinian informant.
Fauda / “Chaos” (2016-2020). An Israeli drama portraying a counter-terrorism unit of the IDF that operates in Judea and Samaria and Gaza.
Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story (2012). A documentary about Yoni Netanyahu, brother of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yoni was killed by German and Palestinian terrorists as he led a hostage rescue operation in Uganda following the terrorists’ hijacking of an Air France plane in 1976. The rescue mission was ultimately successful and is widely known as one of the greatest counter-terrorism missions of all time.
Golda (2019). A documentary about the rise and fall of Golda Meir, Israel’s first and only female prime minister.
In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem (2017). The IDF’s 55th Paratrooper Brigade recounts the battle for Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967. The battle for Jerusalem was the fiercest battle of the war.
Munich (2005). A drama based on the true story of Israel’s retaliatory counter-terrorism operations targeting the architects of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. In the massacre, the Palestinian terrorist group Black September murdered 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team.
Operation Finale (2018). A drama based on the true story of Israel’s covert capture of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960. Eichmann was the main architect of the Final Solution against the Jews in World World II.
The Red Sea Diving Resort (2019). A drama based on the true story of Israel’s rescue of Ethiopian Jews that had fled famine and civil war to refugee camps in the Sudan. Israel set up a fake diving school in the Sudan, and used the school as cover to smuggle the Ethiopian Jews to Israel with the help of the US during Operation Moses and Operation Joshua in 1984-1985.
The Spy (2019). A limited series drama based on the true story of Eli Cohen, an Israeli spy who embedded himself in the top brass of the Syrian government and army. Syria exposed and executed Cohen in 1965, but his intelligence proved decisive in Israel’s victory in the Six Day War of 1967. Sacha Baron Cohen stars as Eli Cohen.
Unsettled (2007). A documentary of Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005, as seen through the eyes of Gaza’s former Israeli residents as the disengagement is occurring.
Upheaval: The Journey of Menachem Begin (2021). The biography of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who led the right-wing Likud to power in Israel for the first time ever in 1977, following decades of left-wing Maipai/Alignment/Labor governments. Begin also made peace with Egypt.
Ushpizin / “Guests” (2004). A drama/comedy about an ultra-orthodox Israeli couple visited by two secular Israeli ex-convicts during the holiday of Sukkot. One of these guests was friends with the husband in a prior life. The movie touches on orthodox/secular relations in Israel.
Valley of Tears (2020). A limited series historical fictional drama based on the true story of Israel’s mobilization following a dual surprise attack by Syria and Egypt on Israel’s holiest day in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.