The Palestinian narrating, and the Jew listening — a new film about the Nakba

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Alice Rothchild has been preparing a documentary about raising Jewish consciousness of the Nakba, called Voices Across the Divide. She is raising money for the project at Indiegogo. This is her description of the film.

In this 57 minute film, interviews with Palestinians are woven together with historical photos and footage to create an intimate picture of one of the most complex conflicts of our time. Voices Across the Divide is a powerful documentary and oral history project exploring the Israeli/Palestinian struggle through rarely heard personal stories. Narrated by Alice Rothchild, an American Jew raised on the tragedies of the Holocaust and the dream of a Jewish homeland in Israel, the film follows her personal journey as she begins to understand the Palestinian narrative, while exploring the Palestinian experience of loss, occupation, statelessness, and immigration to the US.


This intimate storytelling begins with her journey as a Jew born in 1948 to first generation parents, growing up with Israel as her friend, her pride, and ultimately her heartbreak. As she developed as an activist and a student of modern European and Middle Eastern history, one of the most painful and perhaps hopeful themes that emerged was the commonality of experiences and language in the voices of the survivors of the Holocaust and the victims of the Nakba, or the Catastrophe, the Palestinian experience of 1948.  Immersed in the stories of the Nazi Holocaust, she began to understand that buried in the wounds of her own people’s near annihilation, another people’s story was lost. Paraphrasing the words of Edward Said, if a culture does not tell its narrative, it ceases to exist, it experiences cultural genocide.


Voices Across the Divide shares the stories that are rarely told, delving into this anguished history and the lives of Palestinians through the vehicle of individual and family history, bringing the conflict to its most personal level with honesty, humor, outrage, and tragedy. The documentary is both a personal journey to understand the Palestinian narrative as well as the implications and contradictions of deeply held cultural beliefs in the Jewish community. The exploration of moments in history and daily life are used as metaphors for the larger issues of British colonialism, the 1948 and 1967 Arab/Israeli wars, the Palestinian experience of dispossession, loss, statelessness, refugee status, occupation, immigration, and activism.


Through interviews in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Boston, with Palestinian families and survivors of the Nakba, and the Naksa, also known as the Six Day War, the film creates an oral history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of Palestinians. Exploring these stories, the film confronts commonalities of trauma, yearning, immigration, and the realities of injustice, dispossession, and the imbalance of power, humanizing this tortured and misunderstood history, raising voices to build a just peace in Israel and Palestine. 

The act of the Palestinian telling and the Jew listening depicts a sharing of consciousness, humanity, and reconciliation on a most intimate level. These interviews, combined with historical footage, maps, and original music create powerful visual images and emotional experiences.  An essential part of Jewish history and a just resolution to this tortured conflict requires understanding Palestinian as well as Jewish suffering, but that is not enough. Listening to the voices of the other leads to a commitment to work for justice. The film website also provides a host of resources and the film interviews and transcripts.


The Indiegogo crowd sourcing campaign ends May 5. Funds raised will cover the original musical score and the subtitling in Arabic and Hebrew.  The film has already been accepted in a Nakba film festival in Tel Aviv organized by Zochrot, an Israeli organization dedicated to education about the 1948 Palestinian experience.

About Alice Rothchild

Alice Rothchild is a Jewish-American physician. Her most recent book is Condition Critical: Life and Death in Israel/Palestine, from Just World Books. Her previous book is On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion.

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3 Responses

  1. DICKERSON3870
    April 20, 2013, 4:50 pm

    RE: “Alice Rothchild has been preparing a documentary about raising Jewish consciousness of the Nakba, called Voices Across the Divide. She is raising money for the project at Indiegogo.”

    MY COMMENT: I made a modest donation at Indiegogo towards the completion of this very worthwhile documentary. –

  2. just
    April 20, 2013, 8:28 pm

    “The Palestinian narrating, and the Jew listening”

    May I just say that I love this idea, in and of itself……………

    Thank you, Ms. Rothchild.

  3. chocopie
    April 20, 2013, 11:47 pm

    I also contributed. Good luck.

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