In this increasingly polarized and misinformed world, it becomes the obligation of individuals to ensure that the truths and intentions of history are not erased and rewritten by those disconnected from it. With the State and the people of Israel becoming more and more isolated from the international Jewish community thanks to worldwide political strife and unrest, it is our duty now more than ever to understand and recognize the value of an independent Jewish state, and honor those who made it possible by sharing their unique and incredible experiences.
Unlikely Heroes: The Men & Women Who Saved Israel captures the development of modern Jewish independence in the first person. Currently in production, this film begins with the testimonies of some of the most unlikely heroes, both men and women, who helped Israel rise out of the ashes of the Holocaust to become a sovereign nation.
Had it not been for an extraordinary groundswell of mass heroism 70 years ago, the fate of the Jewish people might have been as fragile as it was only 20 years before that, when the Nazi party began it's rise through the political system in Germany. Thanks to the determination and fearlessness of early Zionists such as Hillel Kook and Ben Hecht in the 1930s and '40s, awareness of the Holocaust in America grew, paving the way for Golda Meir and David Ben Gurion to later appeal to the international community for support in rescuing refugees and defending Israel.
Unlikely Heroes, as history in the first person, tells the story of how men and women from over 50 countries– young adults, former World War II soldiers, business people, Holocaust refugees, Jews and gentiles – came together as volunteers in a spontaneous, largely improvised effort to help establish a nation for the Jewish people. Despite impossible odds and nearly insurmountable obstacles, they succeeded, displaying remarkable courage as they fought and sacrificed for the right to self-determination in the land of Israel.
Their individual stories are fascinating – and largely unknown. There’s the tale of the Central American “banana boats” that evaded an international embargo to transport European refugees to Palestine. Elite fighters like the teenage Shaul Sapir, trained to act like Arabs and sent underground to infiltrate enemy areas. The covert group of North American Jewish business leaders who secretly raised the equivalent of $2.5 billion for the cause, and Canadian businessman Harry Mitz, who manufactured and shipped machine parts and weapons to Israel at the risk of his own life and freedom.
The ragtag Czech war-surplus aircraft from which crew members like South African Smoky Simon acted as “bomb chuckers,” dropping bombs by hand on their targets. Young Polish Catholic Duke Labaczewski, who left his comfortable life in Philadelphia to smuggle refugees and join an elite fighting force in the Galilee, and Navajo Jesse Slade from Oklahoma, who decided to join his two best friends in defense of their homeland because if it was important to them, he decided, it must be important to him too. The underground bullet factory that operated for more than two years hidden beneath a fake laundry shop, the TNT on its way to Palestine exploding on a dock in New York City, and many, many more.
Most of these stories have gone untold for seven decades – until now.
Unlikely Heroes is a film that brings these tales of heroism and passion to life – often in the first-hand accounts of the extraordinary men and women who lived them.
Unlikely Heroes is:
A compelling documentary detailing a pivotal but largely unknown period in Jewish history
A moving testimony to the audacity, courage, and relentlessness of “ordinary” people who were willing to sacrifice all to establish the state of Israel
A fascinating saga of real-life covert operations and derring-do that rivals Hollywood action films
A vital, much-needed educational resource to inspire and strengthen the bonds of heritage and faith that connect younger Jews to the nation their forebears fought to create