“Tantura” film discussed, in BAFTA panel
The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) hosted the UK premiere of the “Tantura” film at the prestigious British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in London on May 22, 2023, from 6:30 pm to 9 pm. The event was sold out, with prominent politicians, journalists, activists, and personalities in attendance. The film was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Yasmine Ahmed, Director of Human Rights Watch in the United Kingdom. The Tantura atrocity occurred on May 22nd and 23rd, 1948, so the screening occurred exactly 75 years after the massacre.
The screening occurred just one week after the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, which refers to the violent expulsion of approximately three-quarters of all Palestinians from their homes and homeland by Zionist militias and the new Israeli army following the establishment of Israel.
Alon Schwarz, an Israeli filmmaker and historian, directed the groundbreaking documentary film “Tantura.” The film analyzes the massacre and forced expulsion of the Palestinian inhabitants of Tantura by Israeli forces during the 1948 Nakba through the use of personal testimonies, historical documents, and archival footage.
Yasmine Ahmed, UK Director of Human Rights Watch, moderated the panel discussion that followed the screening. Professors Avi Shlaim, Nur Masalha, and Palestinian filmmaker Hala Gabriel participated.
Avi Shlaim is an Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University and a foremost expert on the Middle East. Nur Masalha is a Professor of History at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and an authority on the history and politics of Palestine and Israel.
The last panelist is Hala Gabriel, the director of the film “One Night in Tantura,” which is presently in post-production and also deals with the carnage and expulsion from Tantura. Her father was compelled to escape Tantura during the Nakba, so she feels a personal connection. Hala Gabriel reflected on her own experience interrogating veterans for “One Night in Tantura” and concluded:
“They took it as a matter of military fact: ‘This was our brigade, this was our strategy, and this was our attack.’ They did not feel remorse; they viewed it as combat. It appeared that they had an agreement to forget.”
The panel was chaired by Human Rights Watch UK Director @YasmineAhmed001. The panel delved into what it meant to watch an Israeli-made film with Israelis talking to Israelis about the Nakba and Tantura specifically. They discussed themes of memory, guilt, and settler-colonialism. pic.twitter.com/TMDT0zjPdO
— ICJP (@ICJPalestine) May 22, 2023
Meanwhile, panelist Professor Avi Shlaim stated:
“The film provides a great deal of insight into the conflict psychology of the veterans, but it fails to disclose Israel’s collective view of itself: that its army is the most moral in the world. This is a fallacy. It never existed, and it is absurd to consider Israel, with its extensive record of war atrocities, a moral army.”
Professor Nur Masalha commented on how the film relates to the recent 75th anniversary of the Nakba:
“Today, the Nakba persists. This is the central topic. In 1948, the Israeli strategy was to incorporate as few Arabs as possible into the state of Israel. This is Israel’s current approach to the West Bank. We must acknowledge the existence of an apartheid state.”
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