The Village Under the Forest
What happened in '48? It's the question that haunts the Israel/Palestine dynamic and defines so much of the conflict. This doc strips back the layers of myth, from denial to stories of mass genocide, telling the real story through the hidden remains of the destroyed Palestinian village of Lubya. Lying under a purposefully cultivated forest plantation, it holds many of the answers not only to the country's past, but also its future. "Shh, if I don't tell, it didn't happen", a Jewish occupier of Palmach in the 40s says in rebuke to his wife who has suggested there are some things you don't talk about. At the end of his life, Motkele was determined to tell his story: "We knew that if you destroyed the roofs of their homes, the Arabs would leave. So a group of us guys destroyed the village roofs and they left. So easy, as if people's lives weren't involved." In doing so he raises that unspeakable topic in Israel, the destruction of Arab villages and driving of Arabs from the land. Palestinians call it 'The Nakba' or catastrophe. Israel make's it illegal to commemorate the event.Heidi Grunebaum, a South African Jewish scholar and writer, leads us through the stories of Jews and Arabs who recount the story of '48 through the perspective of the Arab village of Lubya. She first came to Lubya as a student. She often visited the beautiful forest picnic spot nearby and knew nothing of the town's ruins lying under the forest floor. Jews from around the world had donated money to create the tranquil wooded hideaway.But as the stories from both sides testify, it is not so easy to wipe the memory of whole towns, even in a country where commemoration of The Nakba is considered a crime. Through incredible rare archive and stories from both sides, this film provides a striking testament to why the Israel/Palestine divide remains so difficult to heal.
Starring Heidi Grunebaum
Director Mark J. Kaplan