Iddo Netanyahu's Holocaust-themed Play to Open off-Broadway This Week

'A Happy End,' by Israeli prime minister's younger brother, explores Jewish family's dilemma in 1932 Berlin on whether to stay or flee.

Tommer Appelbaum

Iddo Netanyahu, the younger brother of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is making his off-Broadway debut as a playwright this week. His play, "A Happy End," about a Jewish family living in Berlin during the period of the Nazi rise to power, will open Friday at the June Havoc Theatre in New York City, staged by the Abingdon Theater Company and will run for a month.

The play is set in 1932 as a Jewish family considers leaving Berlin amid the imminent rise of the Nazi Party. They struggle to believe that Germany’s traditions of art, science and democracy will not change as Hitler comes to power. Although the signs of danger are increasing, the family ponders whether to seek an unknown future outside their beloved Germany or stay.

The play was written in 2007 and has been produced in Italy, Germany, Israel and the United States, but is now being performed in New York for the first time.
"’A Happy End’ is not exclusively a World War II or Holocaust story," says Netanyahu. "It is about how we perceive events around us, how we truly judge them and what role self-delusion might play in our most important decisions. The play is set in the shadow of the Holocaust so I could be sure the audience knows what choice the family should be making. I imagine that all playwrights, when they write about the past, are really writing about today."

Iddo Netanyahu served in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit, as did his two older brothers Benjamin and Yonatan, the latter who was killed while commanding the hostage rescue mission at Entebbe in Uganda in 1976.

Iddo, 62, is a radiologist, author and playwright – as well as an amateur historian – dividing his time between New York and Israel.