By BERNIE BELLAN It’s not something that some Jews may want to hear about, but for Israeli journalist Lia Tarachansky, owning up to certain aspects of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence is something that she does not want to be glossed over.
Tarachansky was in Winnipeg to attend the showing of her 2013 film, “On the Side of the Road”. Her appearance here was sponsored by a number of groups, including Independent Jewish Voices, United Jewish People’s Order, Mennonite Central Committee, and the United Church Conference of Manitoba & North-western Ontario.
The film and a discussion following its showing were held at the Canadian Mennonite University on Wednesday, November 9. Approximately 100 people attended the event.
We had a chance to preview the film before its showing (since the event was being held the same evening as the Kristallnacht commemoration and we were not able to attend its showing on November 9). Later we had the opportunity to interview Tarachansky. (The full video interview can be seen on our website at jewishpostandnews.ca.)
“On the Side of the Road” deals with incidents of Palestinians being expelled from their homes, also their being murdered by Israeli combatants, during the 1948 war. Some Israeli veterans of that war are interviewed during the course of the film as they describe what they witnessed and the subsequent effects that witnessing had on them.
Other portions of the film show a Palestinian returning to the site of what was formerly his family’s home, now demolished and which is now part of a park in Israel. As well, there are scenes of a group of Israelis on Yom Ha’atsmaut, preparing to mark what they perceive as a dark period in Israel’s history, but being confronted by other Israelis angry at what they are attempting to do.
During the course of my 23-minute interview with Tarachansky, we discussed how she came to make this film. She explained that, as someone who was born in the former Soviet Union she, like other Russian emigrés to Israel, had virtually no contact with Palestinians. Tarachansky said to me that Russians had to deal with anti-Semitism all the time that they were in Russia, then when they came to Israel, one of the first things they were told upon arriving was that they were now going to be confronted by yet another form of anti-Semitism, this time from Arabs.
Tarachansky grew up in the city of Ariel, she says, which is on the West Bank. In fact though, it wasn’t until she came to Canada to study at McGill University when she was 19 that, Tarachansky says, she ever talked to a Palestinian.
As much as Tarachansky wants to convey a deeper understanding of the anguish Palestinians continue to feel over the results of the 1948 war, when it came to suggesting what might be done to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, she said that was not her purpose in making the film, and that she really couldn’t offer suggestions in that regard.
I did say to her though, that since her film was well made and can either be purchased or rented online at www.naretivproductions.com, even though much of the readership of this paper would probably be hostile to the message that she was imparting through her film, I was going to go ahead and give it attention in our paper and on our website.
As an aside, although groups such as Independent Jewish Voices, also UJPO from time to time, tend to be marginalized by the mainstream Jewish community, especially mainstream Jewish media and, although I don’t necessarily agree with the points of view they offer, this paper will continue to provide exposure to all voices within the Jewish community.
You can watch the full interview with Lia Tarachansky at http://jewishpostandnews.ca/categories-media/72-israel-specific/206-interview-with-israeli-journalist-lia-tarachansky