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Palestinian filmmaker Hala Gabriel seeks support for documentary on ’48 destruction of Tantura

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Readers of Mondoweiss may recall two interviews that I conducted with freelance film director Hala Gabriel, who for the last seven years has been working on a documentary about the Palestinian fishing village of Tantura, the massacre that took place there in 1948, and the subsequent experiences of the survivors, most of whom found refuge in Syria but have now been displaced again. The first interview, “On the Road to Tantura,” appeared on August 27, 2015 and the second interview, “The struggle of refugees in Lebanon, Greece, and Germany,” on June 9, 2016.

Filmmaker Hala Gabriel.

Hala is herself a child of Tantura exiles who came to the United States. She embarked on this project mainly in order to preserve the memories of the older generation of her family and other former residents of Tantura. Her quest has taken her to Palestine/Israel and to refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon, and various European countries.

The basic work on the documentary has now been done. Hala and her producer Talal Jabari have a solid 70-minute “rough cut” of the film. However, there remains significant work to be done in order to complete the project in the near future at the same high standard of professionalism as they have maintained since the start of the project. They aim to release the film by the 70th anniversary of the Nakba and in time for the 2018 film festival circuit.

To speed up the work a “crowd-funding” appeal has been launched on Kickstarter. This means that would-be donors make pledges, but the money is collected only if a set target is reached by a certain date. The goal is to obtain pledges totaling $55,000 by Tuesday, July 4, 2017.

As of today (Thursday, June 8, 2017) just over one fifth of this sum has been pledged.

Still frame from Hala Gabriel’s film “On the Road to Tantura.”

Still frame from Hala Gabriel’s film “On the Road to Tantura.”

For further information, including a preview of the film, please go to the Kickstarter page. Here you will be able to make your pledge and see how it contributes to progress toward the goal. Thank you.


Stephen Shenfield

Stephen Shenfield is a British-born writer. After several years as a government statistician, he entered the field of Soviet Studies. He was active in the nuclear disarmament movement. Later he came to the U.S. and taught International Relations at Brown University. He is the author of Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies, Movements (M.E. Sharpe, 2001). He now works as an independent researcher and translator. He is a member of the World Socialist Movement. A collection of his writings is on his new website at

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12 Responses

  1. annie on June 10, 2017, 3:04 am

    i had the opportunity to watch excellent film 2 nights ago. it’s so close to being finished. knock out film.

    i don’t understand the “All or nothing” with kickstarter. i really hope they make their target. i highly recommend this thoroughly relevant moving film. please support it if you can.

    hats off to Hala Gabriel and Talal Jabari.

    • annie on June 12, 2017, 12:27 pm

      hi everybody, i just wanted to reiterate what an exceptional film this is. the animation is really key to the project and totally brings the scenes alive. i’m worried because this is an all or nothing crowd sourcing project and even tho they’ve already got 15k (yeah! thanks everyone) that leaves 40k to go in only 30 more (or so days), so please tell your friends about it and if you have any inkling to donate please do!!!

      i was in tears by the end of this film and not because of the massacre, but because of the refugee situation so many of these children and grandchildren from tantura are now facing — having fled from syria — almost like a 2nd nakba.

      hala and talal have brought this full circle — into the present — and palestinian refugees are a dire situation even in comparison to other refugees, and the situation that they already have a home they are not allowed to go back to makes this tragedy all the more frustrating. the film is a real eye opener and hits you in the guts.

      • Stephen Shenfield on June 13, 2017, 2:28 pm

        Annie. — I drew Hala’s attention to your supportive comments and she asked me to express her sincerest gratitude to you and to everyone connected with Mondoweiss who has helped.

        They have now passed the one-third mark with 21 days to go, so with assistance in networking they have a good chance of reaching their target.

      • annie on June 13, 2017, 3:24 pm

        stephen, i’ve been following the kickstarter page closely (it’s gone up 2k since yesterday!) plus i get the updates since i donated. it still makes me very nervous… the film is so impressive, and so important. also, i reread your previous interviews last night, thank you so much for everything.

        speaking of reviewing your interviews, i had forgotten about Hala emailing and eventually meeting teddy katz:

        H.G. I knew we were Palestinians. I knew we were refugees. But I didn’t really understand what that meant.

        How then did you eventually come to understand?

        HG: To learn more about my family history I used the internet. My first search yielded nothing, but after 9/11 I tried again and found a news story about the Israeli scholar Teddy Katz, who had written a master’s thesis on what had happened at Tantura. After his findings were summarized in an article in the newspaper Ma’ariv a group of veterans from the Alexandroni Brigade sued him for libel.

        This article mentioned a memoir written in 1950 by a Palestinian from Tantura named Marwan Yahya. That was my father! So I found Teddy’s e-mail address, wrote and introduced myself as Marwan Yahya’s daughter, and asked him for a copy of my father’s memoir. I met Teddy when he visited Los Angeles to speak at local universities. It was Teddy who urged me to go to Syria and interview survivors from Tantura in the Yarmouk refugee camp. A few years later I had the opportunity to do that. It was the beginning of my work on the documentary.

  2. Jackdaw on June 10, 2017, 2:52 pm

    Benny Morris delved into the archives and found an unsigned short report on Tantura Operation, IDFA 922/75//949, and ya’akov B.’, in the name of the deputy OC ‘A’ company ‘Report on Operation Namal’ 26 May 1948, IDFA 6647/49//13.
    That report claims dozens of villagers were killed.

    Even the Arabs admit that the villagers used arms to resist the IDF.
    I’d call that a battle, not a massacre.

    How is it that there’s no mention in Hala’s articles that 13 Jewish Alexandroni Brigade soldiers died in the battle for Tantura?

    Nor does Hala tell us whether her parents witnessed a ‘massacre’. Odd, to say the least.

    What disgusts me, is third-rate agitprop, for sale by pseudo revisionist historians.

    • Mooser on June 10, 2017, 3:10 pm

      “What disgusts me, is third-rate agitprop, for sale by pseudo revisionist historians.”

      This land, is mine!
      God gave this land to me!
      This brave and ancient land,
      To me!

  3. Jackdaw on June 10, 2017, 4:19 pm

    It’s Tantura, it isn’t Mooser.

    *Daddy. Look at me!*

    • gamal on June 10, 2017, 6:59 pm

      “It’s Tantura, it isn’t Mooser.”

      but those are just words! whats with the asterisks? you a pervert?

      • Jackdaw on June 11, 2017, 12:38 am

        No. Why would you think that?

      • Mooser on June 11, 2017, 2:39 pm

        “No. Why would you think that?”

        C’mon, “Jackdaw”, it’s not like we’ve never seen an asterisk before. And Zionists like it when it’s somebody elses asterisk, not their own.

  4. Jackdaw on June 11, 2017, 4:04 pm

    Daddy. I’m here!

    • Mooser on June 11, 2017, 7:01 pm

      “Daddy. I’m here!”

      Uh, okay, it’s your asterisk… Are we supposed to sing “Climb upon my knee, Sonny Boy” or beat you, eight to the bar?

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