Helen Mirren: Israel must last forever

The acclaimed actress has been a lover of the Jewish state for years.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Dame Helen Mirren is of the firm opinion that Israel must last forever, she told Channel 12 in an interview that aired on Sunday.

“I believe in Israel, in the existence of Israel, and I believe Israel has to go forward into the future, for the rest of eternity,” the Oscar-winning British actress said.

Her conviction is based mainly on the destruction that European Jewry faced in World War II, but goes beyond that as well.

“I believe in Israel because of the Holocaust,” she said, but also added that she had volunteered on a kibbutz after the Six Day War in 1967, and that Israel had grabbed her then and there.

“The extraordinary magical energy of a country just beginning to put its roots in the ground — it was an amazing time to be here,” she said.

Mirren also believes in the people she has come to know in the country.

“It is the artistic community that I believe will carry Israel forward,” she said.

“I know there is a base, a foundation of deep, intelligence, thoughtfulness, commitment, poetry even in Israel that is very, very special, I think.”

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While against the current rightward trend of the government, she sees it as one with other countries’ backlash against liberal values and not particular to Israel. She said she refused to bow to BDS pressure not to take the lead in the biopic “Golda,” about Golda Meir, Israel’s only female prime minister to date, which hit the theaters last week to wide acclaim for her performance.

She said she remembered “the feeling of triumph and satisfaction”  she felt when Meir became Israel’s leader, as one of the only women to ever have headed a country, and very much wanted to play her, she said.

The film focuses on what was happening in the corridors of power during and immediately following the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Mirren studied Meir’s autobiography and footage of the premier so that she could mimic her American accent, walk and demeanor. She noted that Meir’s “physical and mental suffering” of dealing with the “enormous burden” of the war was “a revelation.”

The interview took place in July, when Mirren arrived in the country for the movie’s premiere Jerusalem Film Festival.

This is not the first time the Oscar-winning actress has stood up for the Jewish state. In a mashup of past statements posted to YouTube by the World Jewish Congress in 2017 she said that her knowledge of Israel “came from being in the country itself,” she said, which to that point she had already visited three times. Israel “is a country that I really love, that I find inspiring and full of extraordinary people,” she said.