Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2022 1:06 pm 
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Old film footage of Palestinians confiscated by Israelis represents stolen history and an attempt to erase memory

Another short documentary investigation film by a younger generation Israeli, Karnit Mandel, who made and stars in this film, who as a researcher in Israeli historical film files comes upon material different from the rosy picture of the establishment of the State of Israel that they received growing up. This time it is a collection of Palestinian films going back to before the State of Israel and during the time when villages were invaded and people driven out, and the refugee camps of Gaza began. Karnit interviews numerous people, 90% Jewish, inquiring about this material, and the impression is that there is a bigger file with the IDF, شلل "shalal" or confiscated material.

She calls the woman in charge of the IDF, the Israeli army, film files at an IDF office who plays hard to get and when finally reached claims it's an "urban myth" that they have a file of Palestinian films seized by the IDF, it was destroyed, it never existed, whatever.

One thing that stings is that one Israeli old-timer says, "At this time, you know, there were no Palestinians; the word was invented after 1964," or words to that effect. And the oldest Israeli "historian," is a man who compiled the standard photo book found "in every home" about the establishment of the State of Israel, who dodges the question by Karnit about his selecting photos for propaganda purposes. He says he didn't edit out Arabs because there were none, or hardly any, they were a small minority. No need.

Karnit Mandel is diligent, but she has questions, not answers, to present here. And the last word comes from Dr. Mustapha Kabha, Head of Middle Eastern Studies at Open University, says these Palestinian films that are hidden and confiscated rob the Palestinians of their identity, and if they don't want to return them, they should make them public. He asks how Israel can want to steal a history from a people after only 70 years when they pride themselves on remembering their own history for, well, several thousand years. "No attempt to erase a layer of memory ever succeeds," he concludes.

Another more final word is allowed former state archivist Jacob Lozowick, who feels no archive should be kept hidden beyond a certain period, certainly not after 70 years, and says he resigned because the forces for the status quo are stronger than "one lone archivist."

A Reel War: Shalal, 55 mins., in Hebrew, English, and Arabic, was screened for this review as part of the 2022 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

Friday July 29, 2022
1:00 p.m.
Albany Twin

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