Prickly Past: A Trip To Mitzpe Revivim
Few can comprehend the reality of pre-state life, when the British ruled the country. The restored Mitzpe Revivim offers physical evidence of the pioneers and their travails.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the British severely limited the number of Jews who could immigrate to Palestine. Indeed, they proposed dividing the country into three parts and leaving Jerusalem and the Negev out of Jewish hands.
Alarmed, Jewish leaders in Palestine concocted a scheme that could conceivably place the Negev inside of a future Jewish State, a plan that would take into account the fact that Jewish settlement in the south was absolutely forbidden. In 1943, they put the first phase into motion: three little groups were sent deep into the Negev, ostensibly only to conduct agricultural research, but actually to gain a foothold on the land in outposts called mitzpim.
Later on that year, collective settlements called “kibbutzim” were established in other parts of the Negev, and on the famous “Night Of The Eleven,” 11 new settlements were formed overnight.
Last week, the Tel Aviv Cinemateque hosted Yaakov Gross — famous for restoring impossibly dilapidated films — including the movie Pillar of Fire. Not the modern day Pillar of Fire, which tells the story of the birth of the Jewish State, but a film produced by American/Israeli director Larry Frisch in 1959. In black and white, it told the story of the danger and the hardships faced by young Jewish soldiers at Mitzpe Revivim (the Revivim Outpost) in a bleak and desolate wilderness.