Evidence of graves of murdered indigenous peoples discovered at St. Joseph Residential school (at left) in British Columbia, and at Tantura in Israel (at right). “Discovered” in quotation marks because in both cases, the families of the victims have been saying for years that the deaths occurred and the graves were there. Nobody listened. Now the truth is coming out….. read more…
“Tantura” an Israeli film about a massacre of over 100 Palestinians by Zionist forces in 1948, caused quite a stir after being released at the Sundance festival in January. Coincidentally it came out just as new information was reported about more deaths of indigenous Canadians, this time at a residential school in Williams Lake, British Columbia.
Despite the obvious differences – the Indigenous kids were not “intentionally” murdered – just allowed to die in large numbers from disease or malnutrition or even freezing to death while trying to escape, whereas the Palestinians were actually murdered in cold blood by Zionist forces – there is an obvious similarity. Three, in fact.
First is they both were acts of cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing. A settler colonial society was determined to create a new society by wiping out the remnants of the indigenous one.
Second, in both cases the victims communities have been saying loudly for years that the deaths occurred. Indigenous Canadians have been repeating to anyone who would listen that thousands of children died of disease and malnourisment. And Palestinians have also been saying for years that an atrocious massacre occurred at Tantura in 1948, one of many including others at Lod and Deir Yassin, as Yara Hawai told CBC’s Matt Galloway on “The Current” on Monday, January 31. Books have been written about it. Articles have been written about it. But Israeli society was not interested in listening.
The recent Israeli film is not even the first film about the massacre. A Palestinan film (Over their dead bodies) was made over 15 years ago, but was all but ignored.
Third, it wasn’t until the evidence became overwhelming, that the true story began to enter the consciousness of the settler society itself. In Canada, the report of the Truth and Reconciliation commission landed like a huge brick on the political landscape. It estimated that up to 4000 indigenous kids may have died while in residential schools.
In Israel, a similar scenario. “Palestinians Have Talked About the Tantura Massacre, but a Jewish Film Made It Fact”, ironically noted Haaretz magazine.
Truth – a necessary basis for reconciliation
In Canada as in Israel, it seems clear that reconciliation can only proceed on a basis of truth – a recognition of what happened in the past. Without recognizing and admitting historical facts, true reconciliation will not be possible.
Canada has timidly begun that process, but a lot more work remains to be done. While our churches and many politicians now recognize the reality of our colonial past, unfortunately too many Canadians are still in denial.
Israeli society is still largely in denial. But it is now facing mounting evidence of the massacres that took place in 1948. Israeli historial Benny Morris said that the “worst cases” were the Saliha massacre with 60 to 70 killed, the Deir Yassin massacre with around 112, Lydda massacre with around 250 and the Abu Shusha massacre with 60-70. In Al-Dawayima, accounts of the death toll vary.
Unable to ignore the evidence any longer, there is now a persistent effort to present the massacres as egregious exceptions due to the actions of “rogue elements” among the Zionist militias. However, finding driving the Palestinians out of Palestine was a strategic necessity for the Zionists. And even today, Palestinians show that they are very tied to their land. The Zionists realised that Palestinians could only be forced to leave by extremely coercive methods, including killings.
Human rights activists need to ensure that Israeli society is not allowed to limit films like “Tantura” to a ritual process of saying “sorry” about the past. Israeli massacres of Palestinians continue to the present. According to The Independent, a UK publication, Israel killed over 300 Palestinians in 2021 (three times as many as were massacred in Tantura in 1948). This has to stop.
News flash: On February 1, Amnesty International released a thorough report charging Israel with practicing apartheid against Palestinians in the West Bank, in Gaza and inside Israel itself!! Read the Amnesty Press release here.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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