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Helen Mirren plays Golda Meir in a new film. The two are also (kind of) related.

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Helen Mirren will soon become linked with Golda Meir in the minds of many viewers when she plays the late Israeli prime minister in a new film. But the award winning actress has another, real-life connection to Meir: the two are related, Israeli genealogical researchers revealed on Thursday.

Mirren was in Jerusalem for the Israeli premiere of “Golda,” the dramatic film she’s headlining about Meir’s handling of the Yom Kippur War — when Egypt, Syria and a coalition of their allies invaded Israel and made significant headway before ultimately being rebuffed. 

The movie is headlining the Jerusalem Film Festival, with a red-carpet screening scheduled for Thursday night.

During a press conference before the screening, researchers with MyHeritage presented Mirren with evidence linking her to Meir, who served as prime minister from 1969 to 1974 and remains the only woman to head Israel’s government. 

The connection is distant, stretching nine generations back through Mirren’s paternal Russian ancestry, and through marriage only. (The genealogy also connects Mirren to two Israeli presidents, Chaim and Ezer Weizman, and to the British royal family.) Still, Mirren — who is not Jewish — said the revelation offered an important lesson.

“It’s miraculous, isn’t it, really? It just goes to show that we are all one family actually,” she said. “In times of divisiveness and strife as I know Israel is in right now … It would be a very good thing to remember that fact.”

Israel’s political turmoil was a central topic of conversation during the press conference. Mirren and her Israeli collaborators — including director Guy Nattiv and co-star Lior Ashkenazi – reflected on the widespread protests against the right-wing government’s efforts to sap the power of the country’s Supreme Court.

“I am not Israeli. … I’ve watched it from afar these past weeks,” said Mirren, who said at the Berlin premiere of “Golda” in February that she thought Meir would be “utterly horrified” by the current government’s efforts. 

“I’m personally moved and excited when I see those huge demonstrations,” she added. “I think maybe it’s a pivotal moment in Israeli history.”

Nattiv said that he had been attending the demonstrations with his father “to stop this crazy thing from happening” and that he had encountered a veteran of the Yom Kippur War who compared the current moment to the existential threat that Israel faced — and overcame — then.

“In a way we are fighting to shape the future of our country,” he said.

The film portrays Meir being caught flat-footed by aggression from neighboring Arab countries, then overseeing a military response that transformed from fumbling to triumphant — and eventually led to Israeli-Egyptian peace in 1979, years after Meir left office. It shows her deeply struggling over the deaths of Israeli soldiers who might have lived had she heeded warnings of war. In 1974, Meir resigned amid divisions within her party over where to assign blame.

“She understood that as the leader of the country she had to take responsibility, and she did — unlike many other leaders who, when things go pear-shaped, start pointing fingers at other people,” Mirren said. “I think that must have been incredibly painful.”

Mirren’s connection to Israel dates back to 1967, when she traveled with a Jewish boyfriend to work for a month on a kibbutz in the country’s north. “I’m amazed every time I come,” she said.

Her casting drew criticism for the decision to have a non-Jewish actress play one of history’s most prominent Jewish women. About the debate over whether roles should be filled by actors whose identities overlap with the characters’, Mirren said, “I adhere to both camps.” She noted that she collaborated closely with the British theater director Peter Cook, who pioneered color-blind acting in the 1970s and died last year at 97.

Nattiv said one of his Israeli colleagues had initially suggested Mirren because of her resemblance to his own grandmother. He said, “I saw the Jewish soul in Helen immediately. We feel like it was the right move.”

Mirren said her motivations for taking the role were simple.

“I’m a horribly greedy actress. All I want to do is play great women,” said Mirren, who won an Oscar for portraying Queen Elizabeth II and has also played Queen Elizabeth I, among other historical figures. “And Golda was one of the greatest.”

Before “Golda” hits screens worldwide next month, Mirren has another major role — as the narrator in “Barbie.” She said both movies offered portrayals of strong women, and suggested a possible addition to the mounting list of promotional tie-ins for the hotly anticipated live-action film about the iconic doll.

She said, “I think we need a Golda Meir Barbie, don’t you think?”

The post Helen Mirren plays Golda Meir in a new film. The two are also (kind of) related. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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British Columbia’s Jewish community is outraged after MLA Selina Robinson is removed from cabinet over remarks about Israel

Leaders of the British Columbia Jewish community have reacted with dismay to the decision by David Eby, the province’s premier, to remove Selina Robinson from her position as minister of post-secondary education and future skills on Feb. 5 due to remarks she made the previous week during an online discussion. While speaking on a panel […]

The post British Columbia’s Jewish community is outraged after MLA Selina Robinson is removed from cabinet over remarks about Israel appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Gaza Border Residents Demand A Return Home, Four Months Into War

A damaged building lies in ruins, following an infiltration by Hamas terrorists who attacked Israel at a kibbutz in Kfar Aza, Israel, Nov. 8, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Israelis from the Gaza Envelope are calling on the government to approve their return home, roughly four months since the war’s outbreak on October 7.

The head of the Scot Negev Regional Council, Tamir Idan, said outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, “We demand a clear statement from the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister that it is safe to return to the area. Until then we are not moving from here.”

The heads of the other regional councils in the Gaza area joined Idan outside the Prime Minister’s office, where they slept last night in protest.

The regional leaders say that members of the Gaza border towns should be allowed to return to the areas if they wish, rather than being forced to live in hotels. An internal plan is set to be presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in the near future.

The heads claim it is safe to return home, and are demanding that the government sign off on such a statement so residents can do so. Their protest comes as the government extended the funds allocated for their stay at hotels until July.

Following the October 7 massacre by Hamas terrorists, when they stormed southern Israel, murdering over 1,200 and taking hostage more than 240, tens of thousands of Israelis from the area were uprooted from their homes and placed in hotels in the Jerusalem area, Eilat, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea region. Since then, they have been living there full time, with makeshift schools set up for children and activities to keep everyone occupied. The move has also led local businesses to be completely shuttered.

Some Israelis have already moved back to their towns, which is technically allowed but under their own risk — rockets still fly near daily from Gaza and the IDF is operating within the Gaza Strip, which is minutes away from certain border towns.

The plan presented by the regional heads, they say, would mean that the towns are technically safe to return to, and therefore the risk falls under the government and the military.

This is as tens of thousands of Israelis from northern towns also remain out of their homes, with no current timeline for return due to the constant threat of Hezbollah missiles and the potential the war extends to the north.

The post Gaza Border Residents Demand A Return Home, Four Months Into War first appeared on

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Australian Politician Says ‘Jewish Lobby’ Uses ‘Tentacles’ to ‘Influence Power’

Australian Greens MP Jenny Leong speaks at a Palestine Justice Movement event in Australia on Sunday, February 4, 2024. Source: Twitter/X

Video of a left-wing Australian politician discussing how “the Jewish lobby and the Zionist lobby” are using their “tentacles” to “influence power” went viral on Tuesday, sparking backlash from the Australian Jewish community.

Jenny Leong, an Australia Greens member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, spoke on a panel for the Palestine Justice Movement in December to promote boycotting Israel.

“The Jewish lobby and the Zionist lobby are infiltrating into every single aspect of what is ethnic community groups,” Leong said during the panel. “They rock up and they’re part of the campaign,” and “they offer solidarity.” 

She continued: “They [the Jewish and Zionist lobby] rock up to every community meeting and event to offer that connection because their tentacles reach into the areas that try and influence power and I think that we need to call that out and expose that.”

Stop what you’re doing and listen to the despicable remarks of @Greens MP @jennyleong , in which she accuses Jews of having “tentacles” which they use to try and influence power.

Leong has plumbed new and dangerous depths by using one of the oldest and darkest antisemitic tropes…

— NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (@NSWJBD) February 6, 2024

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, which is the representative of Jews who live in New South Wales, called the remarks “despicable,” adding that “Leong has plumbed new and dangerous depths by using one of the oldest and darkest antisemitic tropes to accuse Jews of covertly manipulating civic life. She has outrageously suggested that there is a sinister or evil purpose associated with Jews undertaking the most normal of activities – interacting with other Australians.”

Josh Burns, a Labor member of the Australian House of Representatives, said her comments were “a direct attack on Jewish people in Australia” and that “she should unreservedly apologize.” He also called on the Australian Greens to “take responsibility and demonstrate that Jewish people in Australia are safe and respected by their Party.”

The right-leaning Australian Jewish Association wrote on X that “Every credible political party must put the Greens last. Every non-racist fair minded person must put the Greens last.”

In response to the criticism, Leong apologized for specifically using the word “tentacles,” but not for her message. She said: “Speaking on a panel during a two-hour-long event last year, I acknowledge that I used a word at one point that was an inappropriate descriptor for the influence of groups backing Netanyahu’s genocidal attacks in Gaza and the ongoing occupation – I apologise that this has caused offence.” 

She continued: “It is incredibly telling that after a conversation where myself and other speakers made countless mentions of the genocidal attacks and occupation occurring in Gaza right now, that two months later more focus isn’t being put on the deaths of over 26,000 people, many of them children.”

Her comments and apology come amid increasing concern over antisemitism on the far-left, which has celebrated violent resistance against Israel since October 7, when Hamas invaded the country, killed 1,200 people, and kidnapped more than 240 more.

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