A Recent Film Spreads a Debunked Tale of Israeli Atrocities, and Earns Praise

Last year, the Israeli documentary Tantura made its U.S. debut at the Sundance film festival, where it won much acclaim for its telling of the story of a 1948 battle for the eponymous Arab village and the subsequent efforts to cover up what happened there. But the story of a massacre that stands at the movie’s core is, in the words of the historian Martin Kramer, “discredited” and “bogus.” Worse even than the filmmakers’ embrace of this myth, writes Meyrav Wurmser, are the efforts of journalists and historians to propagate it knowing full well that it is based on nonexistent evidence. Wurmser blames “a revisionist attempt to define Israel’s resurrection not as the return of an ancient nation, but as a deliberate European colonial effort to disempower Arabs in order to establish a European bridgehead in the Middle East.”

The events of 1948 [by this logic] define a narrative of Israel’s illegitimacy. Revisionists provide an alternative recollection of events of 1948-9—replete with such [an abundance] of mass expulsions and massacres that they rise incontrovertibly to the level of a deliberate ethnic-cleansing campaign launched one-sidedly by European invaders (Jews).

These events, they argue, are in fact the more genuine expression of the character of the Zionist enterprise. The essence of Zionism is not liberation, but rather a genocidal and illegitimate effort focused on oppressing a native population. The original sins of Israel’s creation thus are not an aberration, but an inherent necessity in order to establish the primacy and victory of the colonial presence.

Over time, the story of Tantura, which was once a matter of academic debate, has acquired a life of its own. As it turned into an inseparable part of the Palestinian national story, its murky—or even clearly fabricated—origins have been overlooked and turned into ironclad facts. A massacre that until recently the Palestinians were unaware of is now a core element of their national narrative. Israel has to face the “evidence” that challenges the morality of its cause.

Read more at Institute for a Secure America

More about: Israeli War of Independence, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship