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December 27, 2012 - Image 51

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-12-27

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Ash ur CUIS I NE

"Super Fresh & Very Flavorful.
Super Fun Choices & Options to choose from!!"

"That was how they
wanted the new Israeli
society to look, and it had
a big impact on us kids."
The fact that many Jews
The Wild Animal Serial Supreme
in Mandatory Palestine
mistakenly believed
Weissmuller was Jewish
further added to Tarzan's
popularity in the Holy
15 Electrifying Episodes
Land.
GREAT WESTERN PRODUCING CO.
Eli Eshed, Israel's fore-
NU MA PICTURES CORP.
most Tarzan expert, notes
that Oz, in his autobio-
graphical stories, depicts
himself as an avid Tarzan
fan.
In one of the Hebrew
novellas, Tarzan helps
smuggle Jewish refugees
out of Europe and past the
t
British naval blockade of
Palestine. At one point in
me."
the story, Tarzan is cap-
tured by the British and
THE TARZAN OF TARZAN
imprisoned, although he
IMP
later escapes.
The Adventures of Tarzan debuted in the
In real life, the Irgun
October 1912 issue of The All-Story, an early
Zvai Leumi underground
pulp magazine.
militia in Palestine initi-
ated the Aliyah Bet (unau-
thorized immigration) campaign in
1929) and Lucille Ball (Beauty for the
1937. It brought an estimated 20,000
Asking, 1939). In addition, his first
Jews to the Holy Land during the next wife, Margaret, was the niece of leg-
four years.
endary director Cecil B. DeMille.
About 7,500 miles away, a handful
Fineman's Tarzan connection was
of Jewish activists were looking for
as the producer of the fifth of the 12
donors in Hollywood to help bankroll
Weissmuller films, Tarzan's Secret
the Aliyah Bet operations.
Treasure, which was released in 1941.
Hillel Kook (using the name Peter
At the very moment Fineman was
Bergson), Yitshaq Ben-Ami, Samuel
working on Tarzan's Secret Treasure,
Merlin and Alex Rafaeli, follow-
he was actively assisting the real-life
ers of the Revisionist Zionist leader
adventurers of Aliyah Bet. Not only
Ze'ev Jabotinsky and members of the
did the Tarzan producer provide
financial support for the American
Irgun, had been sent by Jabotinsky
to the U.S. between 1938 and 1940 to
Friends of a Jewish Palestine, but he
seek financial and political support
also did for them what Hollywood
for Aliyah Bet and the creation of a
types do best—networking.
Jewish state.
He introduced them to important
Their organization, known at that
potential supporters, including the
point as American Friends of a Jewish
actor Edward G. Robinson; Fineman's
Palestine, later was popularly known
sister, the journalist Frances Gunther;
as the Bergson Group. And Hollywood and her husband, John, the future
would prove to be one of their most
author of Death Be Not Proud.
important bases of support.
Some of the Hebrew-language
Tarzan knock-offs found the Lord
Although there were many Jews
among Tinseltown's film directors,
of the Jungle doing things that Jews
writers and actors, some changed
were unable to achieve, such as track-
their names and hid their Jewish
ing down Nazi war criminals Martin
identity to advance their careers in
Bormann and Rudolf Hess. Such
the movie industry. Rafaeli later wrote Tarzan stories substituted fantasy for
of his surprise and disappointment
unattainable reality. But in the case
to find many Jewish actors "aloof and
of Aliyah Bet, young Jewish activists
uninterested in their people's fate:'
took matters into their own hands
But others were more responsive to
and changed the course of history for
the young Zionists' appeals.
tens of thousands of Jewish refugees.
An early and important supporter
And a Tarzan movie producer, of
was Bernard P. Fineman. A Hollywood all people, was part of the team that
figure of some prominence, Fineman
made it possible.
had produced movies featuring such
stars as Gary Cooper (Wolf Song,

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December 27 • 2012

51

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