London 23 May 2023- From 6.30pm-9pm on 22 May 2023, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) hosted the UK premiere of Tantura at the renowned and iconic British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). The event was a sell-out; the full house included prominent MPs, journalists, activists and celebrities. The screening was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Yasmine Ahmed, UK Director of Human Rights Watch. The Tantura massacre took place from the 22nd-23rd May 1948, so the screening took place seventy-five years to the day since the massacre.
Tantura is a ground-breaking documentary film, directed by Israeli historian and filmmaker Alon Schwarz. Through personal testimonies, historical documents, and archival footage, the film explores memory, accountability and censorship and examines the massacre and forced expulsion of the Palestinian inhabitants of Tantura by Israeli forces during the 1948 Nakba.
The screening comes only a week following on from the 75th anniversary of 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 Israel’s establishment.
The panel discussion following the screening was hosted by Yasmine Ahmed, UK Director of Human Rights Watch. It featured Professor Avi Shlaim, Professor Nur Masalha and Palestinian filmmaker Hala Gabriel.
Avi Shlaim is Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford and a leading scholar on the Middle East. Nur Masalha is Professor of History at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and an expert on the history and politics of Palestine and Israel.
The final panellist is Hala Gabriel, who directed the film One Night in Tantura, currently in post-production, which also deals with the Tantura massacre and forced expulsion. She has a personal connection as her father was forced to flee Tantura during the Nakba. Reflecting on her own experience of interviewing veterans for One Night in Tantura, Hala Gabriel reflected that:
“They were taking it like a military matter of fact: ‘This was our brigade, this was our strategy, this was our attack.’ There wasn’t guilt to them, they took it as war. It felt like they had an understanding to not remember.”
Meanwhile, fellow panellist Professor Avi Shlaim said:
“The film provides a lot of insight into the conflict psychology of the veterans, but it doesn’t expose the collective view of Israel about itself: that the Israeli army is the most moral army in the world. It’s a myth. It never existed and it is preposterous to regard Israel, with its long list of war crimes, as a moral army.”
Reflecting on how the film fits in to the recent 75th anniversary of the Nakba, Professor Nur Masalha said:
“The Nakba continues today. That’s the key point. The Israeli strategy in 1948 was maximum land and minimum Arabs in the Israel state. This is the current Israeli strategy in the West Bank. We need to catch up with the reality of an Apartheid state.”
Notes to Editors:
1. The ICJP is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.
2. Please find a google drive with professional photographs for the event here.
3. For more information, photographs of the event, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact: Jonathan Purcell, Public Affairs and Communications Officer, at [email protected].