“OPERATION SUNFLOWER”— Israel’s Nuclear Option

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“Operation Sunflower” (“Mivtza Hamaniya”)

Israel’s  Nuclear Option

Amos Lassen

“Operation Sunflower” is a new Israeli feature film that shows us the events leading to Israel’s development of her nuclear option (in the 1960s) as seen through the eyes of the scientist who was in charge. Directed by Avraham Kushnir, it also looks at the problem of commitment of world Jewry to the country and how far fellow Jews are willing to go to support the Jewish state. The story almost reaches mythical status as one of the characters says. The ambiguity of Israel as a nuclear power is seen here in a less ambiguous form.

Here Israeli superstar, Yehoram Gaon, is the head of the Mossad. The film is based on actual events and we are taken back to the drama of what took place in Jerusalem and Paris in the 1950s and 60s. This is a drama that is both political and scientific.

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When former prime minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, returned home from visiting a concentration camp, he gave the order to develop Israel’s nuclear option as an insurance option for the Jewish people or better said, for what was left of the Jewish people. At the time only the USA, Great Britain and Russia had the bomb.

Two people were at the center of the story—the head of the Mossad and a key Nuclear Physicist together with his doctoral students.  They are recruited to develop the bomb for Israel— to perform a mission that seemed impossible. We become immediately aware of the tenseness as well as the romantic relationships between the characters and this is set against the background of the determination of the Head of the Mossad to attain the Bomb and the soul-searching of the physicists who understand the terrible significance of this project.

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