LONDON: Officials in Israel have slammed a Netflix film showing the murder of a Palestinian family by Zionist forces during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war as “creating a false narrative.”
“Farha,” a historical drama by Jordanian filmmaker Darin J. Sallam and Jordan’s Oscars entry for 2023, has premiered at several film festivals globally since its release in 2021 and will begin streaming on Netflix on Thursday.
The movie tells the story of a 14-year-old Palestinian girl who, while locked in a storage room by her father during the events of the Nakba, witnesses through a crack in the pantry door Israeli soldiers murdering an entire family, including a baby and two small children.
In a statement reported by The Guardian, Israel’s outgoing finance minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said: “It’s crazy that Netflix decided to stream a movie whose whole purpose is to create a false pretence and incite against Israeli soldiers.”
And he added that he would consider revoking state funding from Al-Saraya Theater in the Arab-majority town of Jaffa for having screened “Farha.”
Israeli Culture Minister Hili Tropper said the movie depicted “lies and libels,” describing its screening in an Israeli cinema as “a disgrace.”
In an email to The Guardian on Thursday, the theater’s manager, Mahmoud Abo Arisheh, said: “We responded to incitement with the fact that we (went ahead with) showing the movie.
“As for the public’s response, Saraya’s supporters once again proved to be many. We are committed to defending our right to exist and to express ourselves … We are committed to freedom of art, all art.”
The Palestinian Nakba of 1948 saw the ethnic cleansing and displacement of some 700,000 Palestinians by pre-Israeli-state Irgun and Stern Gang Zionist militias. On April 9 of the same year, Zionist forces, in one of their most infamous crimes, killed more than 110 men, women, and children in the village of Deir Yassin on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Portrayals of genocide committed by Zionist forces during the 1948 war remain a highly sensitive subject in Israel.
In interviews, Sallam said that she made “Farha” because very few narrative films about Palestine explored the root cause of the conflict. She noted that “Farha” told the story of her mother’s friend, who first met Sallam’s mom in Syria.
In a 2021 interview with Arab News, Sallam said: “The story traveled over the years to reach me. It stayed with me. When I was a child, I had this fear of closed, dark places and I kept thinking of this girl and what happened to her.”