‘Tantura’ overview: The tragedy of examined in new documentary

“You cannot create a safe haven by creating a catastrophe for other people,” says Ilan Pappé, a professor on the College of Haifa, concerning the post-World Conflict II founding of the state of Israel within the blistering and defiant documentary “Tantura.”

To research the validity of that sturdy proclamation, director Alon Schwarz (“Aida’s Secrets”) concentrates on the seaside city of Tantura. As soon as a affluent fishing village, it turned the positioning of a bloodbath perpetrated by the Alexandroni Brigade early within the 1948 marketing campaign to take over Palestine — identified by Israelis because the Conflict of Independence.

For Palestinians, the onset of their tragic displacement is called the nakba.

Particulars of what occurred in Tantura greater than 70 years in the past had remained secret, a taboo topic that contradicts the idealized self-image of the Israeli state. However within the late Nineteen Nineties, scholar Teddy Katz interviewed lots of the troopers concerned as a part of his grasp’s thesis.

In these in-depth conversations they begrudgingly corroborated the brutal slaughter of a whole lot of Palestinians, largely males, and the disposal of their our bodies in mass graves. Notable too is the dehumanizing language they use to check with their “enemies.”

After the media realized of Katz‘s findings, the Alexandroni men retracted their statements and sued him, effectively ending his career and silencing the truth. Now Katz has shared the tapes with Schwarz, who uses excerpts, as well as new interviews with those soldiers still alive, to construct a damning exposé of a nation unwilling to admit its primordial sins.

Some of those who agree to speak with Schwarz, now in their 90s, admit to having witnessed the crimes, but deny taking part in them. Others, emboldened perhaps by their advanced age, and more so by the impunity their status as heroes grants them, confess to the killings. An eerie score by Ophir Leibovitch accompanies their chilling accounts.

Yet, they all distance themselves from any direct blame, justifying the events as the inevitable cost of war. Every time Schwarz offers them an opportunity to examine their own behavior, to show remorse, to consider the effect of their actions, or of their inaction, they default to the language instilled in them about the righteousness of their cause.

Therein lies the earth-shattering power of “Tantura,” because as long as the perpetrators refuse to acknowledge responsibility for what happened, healing cannot commence. But neither the veteran soldiers, nor the Israeli government, will own up to this history, because admitting to the massacre would challenge the legitimacy of the state as a whole. And if the recognition of any wrongdoing seems unfeasible, then so are any talks of reparations.

Late in the documentary, Schwarz speaks with elderly Israeli civilians who arrived in Tantura as children. Their opinions range from those who believe Palestinians should surrender all claims to the land, while others, in a show of limited empathy, would agree to a monument to the memory of those buried there as long as it’s not taken as an indication of possession.

Solely a few Palestinians with recollections from the time provide their testimony. Their presence serves as a reminder of the devastation that households endured. Whereas the Alexandroni troopers have loved longevity and veneration, their victims’ stays by no means acquired a correct burial, and, as Schwarz’s analysis implies, they might now be misplaced eternally.

Nonetheless, for all of the institutionalized pushback to keep away from confronting this occasion of “ethnic cleansing,” as one knowledgeable describes it, it’s additionally the bravery of the Israeli teachers who share their views on display that may have essentially the most impression. They dare to publicly query the official story in a society that calls for absolute loyalty to its origin fantasy.

Although Schwarz’s completed movie supplies unmissable and infuriating perception, it’s additionally disappointing that he by no means mentions the continuing violence that the Israeli state commits in opposition to residents within the present Palestinian territories, together with quite a few documented human rights violations.

Watching “Tantura,” one may assume that the nakba was the extent of the army battle, reasonably than the cornerstone of a long time of oppression ad infinitum.


In Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles

Not Rated

Operating time: 1 hours, 34 minutes

Enjoying: Begins Dec. 2, Laemmle Monica Movie Middle, Santa Monica