‘Red Sea Diving Resort’ dramatizes Israel’s daring rescue of Ethiopian Jews

Religion News Service | 8/9/2019 | Staff
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(RNS) — There is no glamor to Sharon Shalom’s memories of his evacuation from the Sudanese desert to Israel 35 years ago.

“I had to leave my parents behind in Sudan,” said Shalom, now a rabbi in Tel Aviv, in a phone interview. “The Mossad came in the middle of the night to take us on the trucks. In one small truck, we had 150 people; the mission was very dangerous.”

Daredevil - Operation - Israel - Service - Jews

Now the daredevil operation by Israel’s secret service to rescue more than 8,000 Ethiopian Jews from Sudanese refugee camps in the early 1980s has become “The Red Sea Diving Resort,” a fast-paced Netflix drama that turns Chris Evans, best known for playing Captain America, into a dashing Israeli hero.

If the Hollywood gloss makes the mission out to be “Ocean’s Eleven” in the Nubian Desert, Shalom, who advised the filmmakers on the events of the rescue, said he’s glad nonetheless to see a little-known journey of faith dramatized for a global audience.

Friends - Israel - Story - Line - Conversation

“Some friends here in Israel will argue it doesn’t reflect the exact accurate story,” he said. “The bottom line is, it helps us not to forget what happened, and it starts a conversation.”

The resort of the film’s title refers to the dilapidated holiday retreat that the Mossad purchased as a cover for what they dubbed Operation Brothers. “They had to pass as non-Israeli to help run this fake hotel,” said the movie’s writer and director, Gideon Raff, whose pilot for “Homeland,” Showtime’s espionage series starring Clare Danes, won him a share of two Emmy awards for screenwriting in 2012.

People - Backgrounds - Places - Raff

“These were people who had international backgrounds and grew up in other places,” Raff said.

This explains in part why Evans, as the taciturn team leader Ari Levinson, heads a cast that includes British stage actor Alex Hassell and the Ukrainian-accented Mark Ivanir, with...
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