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Spielberg May Film U.S. Pilots Who Helped Israel in 1948 War

January 12, 1998
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American volunteer pilots who played a key role in creating the Israeli air force may be the focus of a Steven Spielberg film.

The director said he hit on the idea after sitting in the cockpit with an Israeli pilot on an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv.

“I asked him about his life and learned that he had been a hero during the 1967 Six-Day War,” said Spielberg. “He told me about the history of the Israeli air force and said that everything started with eight American pilots in 1948. I didn’t know about that.”

Most of the American airmen who flew for Israel just before and during the War of Independence were Jewish veterans of World War II, but also included some non-Jewish volunteers.

The director of “Schindler’s List” and “Amistad” has also announced the launching of Visual History Films, which will produce documentaries based on the testimonies of Holocaust survivors.

The new documentary division will draw its material from the archives of Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which has so far interviewed almost 40,000 survivors from 48 countries in 29 languages.

Because the survivor testimony was videotaped in so many languages, Spielberg said he hopes that the documentaries will be screened around the world.

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