'Today marks the release of a new film on the Nakba, entitled “1948: Creation & Catastrophe.” Stephen Shenfield interviews co-directors and executive producers professor Ahlam Muhtaseb, head of the Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at California State University at San Bernardino, and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Andy Trimlett.
Stephen Shenfield: Ahlam, please tell us how the Nakba has affected you and your family.
Ahlam Muhtaseb: Although I am of Palestinian origin, I am not a refugee. I grew up on the West Bank, in the city of al-Khalil (Hebron), under Israeli military occupation – one of the harshest colonial regimes in the world and part of the ongoing Nakba. I remember a childhood of long curfews, closures, and night raids to arrest my father and two brothers. My father was a political prisoner. He was arrested many times and suffered electric shocks and other brutal forms of torture. I also grew up witnessing the wonderful resistance to the colonization of Palestine, especially during the first Intifada.
What led you to embark on this project?
Ahlam Muhtaseb: It started with my field research in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria. I was studying the refugees’ narratives of exile as they evolved from one generation to the next and how those narratives shaped their memories and identity. I wanted to create a short video of life in the refugee camps that could be used as a classroom resource. In 2006, after getting a few grants and buying equipment, I started filming in Syria and then in Lebanon, but my work was interrupted by Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. In 2007 I met Andy. I had intended to return to the region and continue my project in 2008, but Andy persuaded me to switch to a somewhat different film project – a historical narrative of 1948.'
Read more: The last eyewitnesses: a new film on the Nakba - the Palestinian Catastrophe that Israel doesn't want you to know about
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