Sons of Eilaboun

By Gilad Atzmon – London

The truth of the Nakba has been hidden for many decades. Not many except the Palestinians are aware of the scale of 1948 ethnic expulsions and even fewer are aware of the atrocities occasionally performed by the newly born IDF. As a young Israeli pupil I was taught to believe that the ‘Arabs’ (this is how we called them) just run for their lives. No one forced ‘them’ to do so, they were just a bunch of cowards, we were told. Similarly, we were preached that they were not as attached to the land as we, the Israelis, are. While they fled for their lives without fighting back, we, the chosens, schlepped all the way back to Zion after 2000 years to reclaim ‘our’ historic land.

The truth of hundreds of massacres of Palestinian villagers committed by a young and well-trained enthusiastic IDF was absolutely hidden. There wasn’t even a hint that such a thing took place. We knew of one massacre only, the one in Deir Yassin. We were aware of it just because it was there to serve the Israeli so-called ‘left’ leadership, as a means of vilifying their rightwing political rival, namely Menahem Begin (who was directly responsible for this very massacre).

In the last decade, the horrifying exposure of Israeli brutality in the Nakba starts to filter through. Nowadays we know that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was an orchestrated operation that was planned well in advance. As we learn by reading the early Zionist texts we find out that the intention to wipe out the Palestinian existence in the Holy Land was apparent from the very beginning of the movement. The Jewish national aspiration was all about the erection of a Jews-only state in Palestine. The indigenous habitants on the land had to be expelled for the Zionist project to prevail.

It is rather obvious that the scale of Israeli atrocities in the Nakba is far from being fully explored. This alone may also explain why many of us tend to believe that Israelis are becoming more and more vicious as time goes by. We tend to believe that Israelis deteriorate ethically. The truth of the matter is pretty devastating. Israel was born into a colossal sin. The birth of the Jewish state was a tragedy involved with an endless chain of barbarian massacres and other war crimes. As we learn from Hisham Zreiq’s film Sons Of Eilaboun, the first Israelis, the 1948 IDF soldiers, were at least as sinister as their grandsons in Gaza 2009.

Sons of Eilaboun is a story of one small village in the Galilee, one village amongst many. It is a story of one massacre, one massacre amongst many. It is a story of a small community that is tormented and traumatized for generations. Sons of Eilaboun is in fact the story of Palestine.

With pretty much very minimal means, Zreiq manages to deliver a very deep and authentic reading of Palestinian history. He manages also to portray the intense emotional impact of the Nakba on the survivors of the horror. It is a documentation of villagers that were dispossessed and have run for their lives. But it is also an unusual story of a small Palestinian community that managed to return (thanks to UN intervention) just to find out that their houses were looted and they were left with nothing. As if this is not enough, once back, they soon found out that their beloved murdered brothers’ and sons’ eyes were poked out by the Israeli invaders. Seemingly, mutilating young Palestinians’ corpses (eye poking for instance) was another 1948 IDF soldiers’ inclination. I presume that not many people are aware of it. One may expect that just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz Israelis soldiers would be slightly more compassionate.

You better see it to believe it.


– Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He is the author of the several novels. Atzmon is also one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. His CD, Exile, was just named the year’s best jazz CD by the BBC. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

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