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For Golda writer Nicholas Martin, his film — about Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir — could serve as an educational tool for the members of the public who, he feels, don't necessarily understand the complexities of the country's history when launching criticism at it.
While it may be focused on only the one period, Martin tells Yahoo UK the film can "help people understand" the region's history better, particularly in the wake of a recent rise in antisemitism as a result of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and an increase in antisemitic sentiment online.
"There is antisemitism and there is anti-Israeli feeling, and the two crossover," Martin says when reflecting on the importance of telling a story like Meir's now.
"If the truth is told, I think that a lot of anti-Israeli feeling is antisemitism in disguise."
"Having been with the story for six or seven years, I'm knowledgeable about the '70s, the rest of the time frame not so much, but I know enough to know that when people are talking about Israel they usually don't know what they're talking about, and they have no sense of the complexity and the nuances of Israel's history."
"If we are ever going to diffuse this tremendous problem, this tremendous hatred felt between these two communities, the only way it will be done will be through learning and education," he adds.
2021 was described as the "worst year on record" for antisemitic attacks by the The Community Security Trust, a charity which monitors anti-Jewish incidents within the UK, and a report on the first half of 2023 showed that there had been 803 incidents reported of hate crimes against Jewish people.
For Martin it is key to tackle hatred with knowledge, as he adds: "It's really important to me. And what I've been trying to do, when I talk about the film, is to put this period in context and try and help people understand how complex the situation is.
There's really no 'good people' and 'bad people' in this story. There's just tragedy.Nicholas Martin
"The Middle East is a tragic place and Israel is a nation of refugees. Most of the Jews are refugees there and the Palestinians have ended up as refugees, and there's no point in taking sides, really.
"The only thing we can do is to understand and see where all of this has come from and that is the only way that we're going to find reconciliation, I think."
Golda, Martin adds, is the first film about Israel in English that is "accurate" even if it is not necessarily a positive portrayal of the country, so the writer hopes that it will be "useful" for those who watch it.
Changing the view on Golda Meir
The Yom Kippur war took place over two weeks and five days, leading to thousands of casualties on both the Israeli and Egyptian side of the war.
Meir, who was in office from 1969 to 1974, made decisions both before and during the conflict that have led to much criticism being aimed at her, and even in Israel she is not a well-loved figure.
Golda's name was pretty much dirt, believe it or not, despite being the first female Prime Minister.Nicholas Martin
"Despite being a very successful politician doing lots of amazing things; building houses; she created the Social Security system, all sorts of things.
"But because of the Yom Kippur War she was blamed for the trauma of [it], and so most Israelis considered her to have been a failure as a Prime Minister, and a woman that had caused all of this trouble for them when in fact it's really not that simple at all."
For the writer, the story of her actions during the conflict made for an interesting narrative, particularly following up his biopic Florence Foster Jenkins — though he feels both movies are about "determined" elderly women.
"It just struck me as I did more and more research, the idea of this elderly woman leading a country at war, I don't think I'd ever seen that before and it felt very fresh," Martin reflects.
Meir died in December 1978 at the age of 80 from lymphoma, and her legacy was tainted by the events of the Yom Kippur war.
But Golda has helped to change opinion of Meir in Israel, Martin says: "I've had very, very positive feedback from Israeli historians who have been saying that they felt that the movie was very accurate.
"So I think we have changed the narrative, or certainly moved the narrative on with regards to Golda and that's been very gratifying, and it's been very gratifying for her family who have always felt that.
"Her grandsons have always felt that their grandmother's reputation needed rescuing, and I think we're on the way to doing that."
The debate around casting Jewish actors in Jewish roles
But while there has been a positive response to the film it has also sparked a debate around whether Jewish actors should be the only ones to portray Jewish characters, a question that has also been raised recently regarding Bradley Cooper's new film Maestro in which he plays Leonard Bernstein.
Martin has a "really simple" response to the anyone questioning Mirren's authenticity in the role of Meir, as he says: "I just think if someone has done a really, really good job, that's all that matters. I'm only really interested in talent, I'm not interested in people's identity.
"I think that the envelope of possibility for artists, whether they're actors or writers, is shrinking the whole time, filmmakers should be fighting to be entirely free in the decisions that they make.
If Helen hadn't done a good job, then it would have been a different matter, but she has. So who would have done a better job? I can't think of anyone. She inhabited Golda.Nicholas Martin
"The fact she's not Jewish, did that stop her from inhabiting this character? I don't think so, her family don't think so, and the audience don't think so."
He goes on: "I don't think that argument that only Jewish people should play Jews holds water. Should I not have written the script? I'm not Jewish... would the world be a better place if I'd not written it?
"Should Denzel Washington not have played Macbeth? I mean that would be a terrible thing to say. I can't imagine circumstances in which I would say to another writer, [or] an actor, 'I don't think you should do that'.
"I think we get on and do it, if it's good, it's good and if it's not I'll tell you."
Golda premieres in UK cinemas on Friday, 6 October.
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