1948: A Documentation of Palestinian Pain

Professor Ahlam Muhtaseb speaking at open forum for her 1948 documentary

After 10 years of filming, traveling, and investigating, Professor Ahlam Muhtaseb shares the stories of those who have been ignored regarding the Palestinian and Israeli conflict in her new documentary, 1948 Creation and Catastrophe.

The film showcases a piece of Palestinian history that many are not familiar with. This is the story of when Jewish communities relocated to Palestine and pushed out the Arab communities that were already residing there with the help of the British and United Nations.

According to Professor Muhtaseb, this film shows “ the systematic expulsion of the Palestinian people.”

The narrative of this documentary is not a frequent account in conventional media. And because she is aware of this, Muhtaseb has dedicated her time towards educating all who are willing to listen to the stories of those who know what really happened during 1948.

“The mainstream media has a very, almost unified type of narrative on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict,” she stated. “Which is that Palestinians are terrorists and bad and Israelis are the victims, and it’s actually the other way around.”

When Anti-Semitism was on the rise and Jewish communities were forced to relocate, they found shelter in Palestine. This process was known as Zionism and was regarded as such by all who witnessed the event. According to the documentary, this is what contributed to the bloodshed during 1948.

After WWII, the United Nations developed a plan known as the United Nations Partition Plan. This plan gave 56 percent of the land to the Zionist and most of the land that could sustain crops. Before this plan, the Zionist owned only seven percent of the land. Jerusalem was maintained by the U.N. and the remaining land was given to the Palestinians.

1948 Creation and Catastrophe shows the needless destruction and violence that resulted in this partition. Many people from both sides were shot and killed. Sadly, this a war that continues to be fought today.

When Professor Muhtaseb started doing scholarly work in refugee camps, she began to wonder what she could do for the victims. This is where she learned how to help those in need.

“What they were really looking for is their voices to be heard,” she said. “This is where the idea for the film really started.”

In 2006, she started conducting interviews and collecting stories of those she met. Many stories ran parallel with the horrors of war but still were surrounding the events of 1948.  It was during this time she was in Lebanon, barely starting this production, when Israeli invaded Lebanon. She was trapped in the middle of a war.

“I escaped and went to Palestine,” she said. “I was stranded for 35 days.”

She was forced to give up on her passion project and head home. She continued to teach until the year 2008.

Eventually, she continued to document different stories and views of the event. All of which were supposed to go towards a book, but that quickly changed. The more people she spoke to, the more she began to question if she had enough information. One interview led to another and so on.

“It keeps on pulling you in,” she said. “There comes a moment when have to say, ‘this has to stop.’”

The film has premiered at several film festivals in Arizona and San Diego. Both screenings have been well perceived by viewers of this shocking moment in human history. Regardless of one’s faith and background, it is an educational experience that should not be overlooked.

The film’s website, 1948movie.com, has a list upcoming festivals and screenings where people will be able to view the film. On March 31, 2018, the film will be screened worldwide.

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