Films of Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
No Exit: Palestinian Film in the Shadow of the Nakba: Eve Spangler
Israeli-Palestinian relations are fraught with conflict, as every newspaper reader knows. America has long been allied with Israel and, hence, most Americans have been exposed to the Israeli view of the conflict, whether through news media, documentaries, or fiction. Even American and Israeli filmmakers who wish to add unheard points of view to the discussion often fall into the trap of speaking for Palestinians, when Palestinians are well able to speak for themselves.
Ability is not the only issue. Palestinian film takes up the task of creating a national narrative under uniquely difficult circumstances:1 in the absence of a nation-state; with Palestinian communities dispersed across the Occupied Territories, Israel, refugee camps, and a wider diaspora; and with Palestinians in most of those places living virtually in a state of siege.
Moreover, the work of memory is never a matter of simple recall for any ethnic group. Multiple versions of events, some nostalgic, some manipulative, some cynical, some fanciful always contend to become, “the official story” and this is especially the case when the trauma is ongoing and a secure existence still a distant aspiration.2
Virtually all Palestinians agree that the central event of their recent history is al Nakba, “the Catastrophe,” of 1947–1949.3 During this period, by conservative estimates, at least 50% of Palestinians were permanently expelled from their homes,4 while most of their towns and villages and virtually all of their urban communities were destroyed.5 Palestinians...
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