(Jerusalem) Helen Mirren, who plays Israel’s first female prime minister in her latest film, says she was inspired by the protests against the country’s current prime minister.
Ms. Mirren, who portrayed the late Golda Meir during the 1973 war between Israel and a coalition of Arab states in the film Golda, visited Israel as the country is in the throes of a political crisis. Large demonstrations are taking place to challenge Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the country’s judicial system.
At a press conference ahead of the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival, Helen Mirren said she was inspired by the protests.
“I personally am very moved and excited when you see these huge protests,” she said. I think this is a pivotal moment in the history of Israel. »
Netanyahu’s coalition government, which took office in December, is the most ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox in Israel’s 75-year history.
For more than six months, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest against the plan to overhaul the judiciary. Netanyahu’s allies say the plan is necessary to limit the powers of an unelected judiciary. Its opponents say it is a thinly veiled power grab that will destroy the country’s fragile system of checks and balances.
Helen Mirren contrasted the leadership of Golda Meir – who often served coffee to her military advisers as they met in her kitchen to discuss strategy – with that of Netanyahu, who has a reputation for being aloof and out of touch with Israelis ordinary.
“She had immense power, but she was perfectly happy walking around the kitchen, making everyone coffee, and being the grandma,” she said. It’s a very different attitude to power – from Netanyahu-type male power to Golda Meir’s kitchen power. »
The actress’ visit also comes at a time when Netanyahu’s government is set to tighten its grip on the West Bank. His government has approved plans for thousands of homes in West Bank settlements, and tensions with Palestinians are rising.
More than 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire this year in the occupied West Bank, and Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis have killed at least 25 people. Israel says most of the Palestinians who were killed were militants, although stone throwers and people not involved in the violence were also among the dead.
Some of Netanyahu’s allies are West Bank settlement leaders who have sought to deny Palestinian national aspirations, a sentiment Golda Meir expressed in 1969.
“Palestinians did not exist,” Golda Meir said in an interview with The Sunday Times. Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich recently echoed this when he said “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people.”
Lior Ashkenazi, the Israeli actor who plays the Israeli army chief in the film, believes the former prime minister would support efforts to annex the West Bank.
“Even though she was a socialist,” he noted. I think she would definitely support the settlers. »
The film, directed by Guy Nattiv and written by Nicholas Martin, focuses on Golda Meir’s leadership during the 1973 Middle East war, when a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria launched a attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.