The Israeli documentary Censored Voices, now showing in the U.S., draws primarily on some 200 hours of tape-recorded interviews with Israeli soldiers fresh from their participation in the June 1967 war. Several recounted taking part in or witnessing perceived violations of the laws of war. Excerpted transcripts of these interviews were then published under the title Soldiers’ Talk. The new film’s title is based on the claim that the Israeli government heavily censored this publication—a falsehood Martin Kramer exposed in Mosaic’s July essay. What’s more, writes Kramer, the film is itself structured so as to be deliberately misleading:
Soldiers’ Talk wasn’t a project to uncover and document war crimes. It was about eliciting the emotions of the soldiers, in a way more consistent with internal group therapy than with investigation. As a result, the organizers made no effort to collect and corroborate details about specific events, and soldiers gave no names, places, or dates.
Not only does Censored Voices make no attempt to fill in the missing details, it further obfuscates the picture. Footage is shown to illustrate some of the claims—bodies of enemy soldiers strewn along the road, refugees trudging with their possessions on their backs—but it isn’t actual footage of the scenes described by the speaking soldiers, and it bears no identifying captions. We hear voices making confessions or allegations, but we don’t know who is speaking, and the soldiers are identified by name only at the end. . . . In these circumstances, the veracity of any individual allegation is difficult if not impossible to establish.