The new documentary film, “Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story,” should be required viewing in Jewish schools and camps throughout the country.
You can’t teach Modern Israel and the challenges of Zionism in 80 minutes. But in chronicling the life of the hero of the Entebbe rescue, the film not only manages to offer up one remarkable young man’s ongoing struggle between duty to country and the desire to pursue one’s own dreams, but also a simpler, more unified Israeli society fighting for its basic freedoms and rights.
The Ari Pinchot-produced film, which premiered last week at the New York Jewish Film Festival and will go into wider release this spring, wisely focuses more on Yoni’s life — through footage, photos, passages from his many thoughtful letters and interviews with relatives, friends and army colleagues – than his death in the dark on the tarmac of the Entebbe airport.
The film’s low-key tone makes the story, shifting between Yoni’s biography and last assignment, all the more compelling.
By the age of 30 Yoni had already accomplished much, as an introspective observer, and as someone who had established himself as a leader and defender of his country.
He fought in the Six-Day War, was seriously wounded in the Yom Kippur War and was chosen to lead the wildly improbably rescue of almost 100 Israelis from the clutches of Arab terrorists.
Anyone who lived through those times, or is able to sense the fragility of Israel’s existence through this film, will note the difference between the Israel of the 1960s and `70s and the more complex and divided Israeli society of today.
To see this film is to understand what Israel has achieved, and appreciate what has been lost.