The Sons of Eilaboun


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Movie Review: The Sons of Eilaboun

November 30, 2010.

Ghassan Bannoura – PNN - On October 30, 1948, the Israeli army marched into the northern Galilee village of Eilaboun. The villagers were forced to march to the border of Lebanon, but 14 young men were kept in the village and shot dead by Israeli soldiers.

The Sons of Eilaboun is a 2007 documentary film by Palestinian artist and filmmaker Hisham Zreiq (Zrake), that tells the story of the Nakba in Eilaboun and the Eilaboun massacre, committed by the Haganah during Operation Hiram in October 1948.

The film tells the story of the Palestinian exodus of 1948 in Eilaboun, a village in the Northern Galilee between Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. In the incident, fourteen men were executed. The villagers were expelled to Lebanon and became refugees for a few months before managing to return clandestinely.

I asked Hisham why he decided to make the movie.

“He choked and his eyes were full of tears, and with a trembling voice he said ‘I remember it as if it has just happened.’ This is the way he ends the story of a nine-year-old boy from Eilaboun in 1948 Palestine, the story of my father, when he was a refugee.”

As a Palestinian I grew up learning about the Nakba and the people who left Beit Sahour, the Palestinian Christian town where I come from, after fearing that what happened to people in the north would happen to them. Those who left went to South America—some came back but the largest number stayed and started a new life there.

I was wondering why Hisham wanted to make this movie. To be truthful I was afraid that it would be just another one about Nakba. I asked him, “Why now?”

“These days it is more important than ever to show the world how important the right of return,” Hisham answered, “and to show the world what really happened in 1948. The combination between those two points was the reason for me to make the film.”

Sons of Eilaboun was funded by the director, and this actually made me respect it more. After watching some clips of the movie, I came to like it even more. To me it was the first movie I have watched about the Nakba that was done by a person who had to live its consequences; it gave me a rare look into that era of history. It also talked about the Christian villages that were destroyed during the creation of Israel, something that is rare and unusual among Nakba movies.

So far Sons of Eilaboun has taken part in many festivals local and international and won the Best Documentary in Al-Awda Award Festival.
I asked Hisham what kind of reaction he gets showing his movie.

“I was in some of the screenings and I saw people having tears in their eyes!” Hisham said. “This was sent to me by one of the festivals: ‘Your film packed such a punch so efficiently that we had to include it.’ When non-Arabs watch it they understand the real history, and because the film is very emotional, they cannot just ignore it. “

The story of this film is maybe 65 years old, but truly is a rare look into a time in history that changed the future of the entire Meddle East.