Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Film Review of 1948: Creation and Catastrophe

Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Film Review of 1948: Creation and Catastrophe

Article excerpt

Nakba means "catastrophe" in Arabic. Since 1948, it has come to denote the permanent expulsion and dispossession of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands, and the rape, pillage, and massacre of thousands more, by Zionist militias during the years leading up to the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel in historic Palestine. The Nakba caused a large proportion of the Palestinian population to become refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt and produced a significant Palestinian diaspora spanning Europe, the Americas, North Africa, and the Middle East. This ethnic cleansing of Palestine1 was denied until recently by the dominant forces within the international community, the neoimperialist agenda of which was bolstered most notoriously by former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir's 1969 excoriation of the then-alliance between Egypt and the Soviet Union:2 the political front against the advance of communism and radical labor was for her-and in large part remains-the suppression of Palestinian liberation. Forty-two years later in 2011, Israel, politically much further to the right than it was during Meir's time, passed a law that denies state funding to any public or government entity that memorializes the Nakba as an occasion for mourning.3

Interpretation of the events surrounding the Nakba has been and remains contentious, both within the scholarly literature and in the public sphere, including the mediascape. Yet as documentary evidence of the event has increasingly been made available and disseminated, Zionists, scholars among them, have been compelled to acknowledge its occurrence, whereupon attempts to justify it in the proverbial name of Jewish safety-and more recently in accordance with Israeli legislation criminalizing the potential subversion of Zionism entailed by acknowledging the Nakba4-have become prevalent. Perhaps the most illustrious, scholarly example of such casuistry is Benny Morris, who in his 2001 book, Righteous Victims, qualified his earlier research documenting the Nakba5 with the claim that Israel would not have reached its current state of heightened defensiveness had the expulsion of the Palestinians not been more complete.6 The great irony of Morris' position is its resonance with neo-Nazi discourse on the Holocaust, regarding which a similar (ideo)logic is applied, when in fact, as Palestinian author and political commentator, Ghada Karmi, has written so eloquently, the Palestinians who were targeted by the Zionist militias between 1947 and 1949 were nothing less than "Hitler's last victims."7

This very irony-the perpetration of an ethnic cleansing for the purposes of a settler-colonial takeover of Mandate Palestine in the name of a social grouping which itself had just experienced the most thoroughly documented genocide in history-forms the central problematic of 1948: Creation and Catastrophe ("1948"), an independent documentary film directed by Andy Trimlett and Ahlam Muhtaseb and released in 2017. Unlike any previous film concerning the Palestinian-Israeli struggle, 1948 takes aim at the most contentious subject in Palestinian-Israeli historiography: the relationship between the Holocaust and the Nakba. To be clear, this relationship finds no shortage of references within the Zionist literary and cinematic canon, where the Holocaust is cited consistently as that occurrence which indubitably justifies the establishment of a Jewish national entity as a means by which to stave off future Judeocides. This justification has in fact become commonsense discourse throughout much of the First World. By the same token, within a public sphere for which discussion about Palestine is dominated by Zionist interests and overdetermined by them ideologically, any attempt to call out the political underside of the dominant Holocaust narrative is attacked without hesitation by Zionists and fellow travelers, as antisemitic and/or the work of so-called terrorists.8

Palestinians, too, have internalized this veritable taboo against publicly challenging the Holocaust narrative, as a perceived bulwark against the delegitimation of their cause. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.