Forgotten Survivors: Memories of a Fading Generation
A film by John Halaka

The narratives of displacement and experiences in exile of the modern Palestinians remain relatively unfamiliar to most Westerners and especially to the majority of Americans. By contrast, Israel’s narrative of rebuilding a homeland for the Jews has been deeply imbedded in the Western psyche and continues to dominate the political discourse regarding the Palestinian / Israeli conflict. Forgotten Survivors: Memories of a Fading Generation, presents the memories of a small group of men and women selected from an aging and rapidly dying generation of Palestinians who directly experienced the catastrophic ethnic cleansing of their homeland in 1948. The film also locates and documents the ruins of their destroyed villages inside Israel. 531 Palestinian villages and towns were depopulated between December 1947 and December 1948 and eradicated shortly afterwards.

They are referred to as the generation of the Nakba (the Arabic term for the Great Catastrophe that began in 1948) and are the men and women who directly experienced the destruction of Palestinian civil and political society as well as the ethnic cleansing of 85% of the Palestinian population from the land that became Israel in 1948. The survivors of that generation are now in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  Many still live in refugee camps in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and neighboring Arab countries, while those who were not expelled in 1948, or managed to return to their homeland, live in Israel as Arab citizens of the Jewish State. Their stories have seldom been recorded, and their experiences and memories of life before, during and since 1948 are rapidly disappearing as that generation ages and dies.

The urgency to develop this project was clearly reinforced when men and women from that generation that I interviewed for the project died of old age or illness or both. Some were young children when they were exiled in 1948, while others were already in their 20’s and 30’s and were driven out of their homes and homeland with their families and children. The oldest gentleman that I interviewed for this project, Hamed Mousa, was 103 years old when I interviewed him. He died a year and half later. As this aging generation dies, their seldom-heard stories of survival and resilience will die with them. It’s imperative that their narratives be recorded and sensitively placed in its historical context.

Anticipated release: TBA, SittingCrow Productions
Produced, filmed, written, narrated and directed by John Halaka.
Edited by Marissa Bowman.
Running time: TBA

For further information regarding the film, please contact John Halaka at [email protected] or call 619/260-4107.