Colin Briant of Musalaha shares the following report.
On 14 and 21 March 2023, BBC 2 broadcast two television programmes co-presented by Rob Rinder and Sarah Agha in the series “The Holy Land and Us – Our Untold Stories” about the foundation of the State of Israel and the way these events shaped the narratives of their British families, one Israeli, the other Palestinian.
Using the approach seen in “Who do you think you are?” these two grandchildren trace their families’ history back to 1948 and before, to reveal personal stories hitherto unknown to them.
As the experiences of another four families are explored, characteristic Palestinian and Jewish narratives emerge.
“……the promise of a homeland of safety a quarter of a century before my family are murdered in the holocaust …..”
“Israel offered sanctuary for Jews from across the world, but it undoubtedly came at a price.”
“For the Palestinians there was nothing to celebrate. What Palestinian families like mine lost in 1948 were their homes, along with a sense of place and belonging. More than 700,000 Palestinian refugees were created by the events between1947 and 1949. …. Palestinians call this period The Nakba – Arabic for the catastrophe.”
In the final scene the participants wistfully express hope for the future, but they show no awareness of approaches such as Musalaha’s.
It seemed to me, Colin writes, that they are a very good way to help us understand the current background Musalaha is working in.
The first five minutes of Episode 1 form an overall introduction, well worth looking at in itself. It contains hints of the pain and the hope the two main participants will share with viewers.
These programmes are even-handed and sensitive as the two competing narratives emerge. At the very start they outline the role the British played, raising difficult questions for us today.
These two BBC episodes are available on iPlayer for the next twelve months.
About the series “The Holy Land and Us – Our Untold Stories”
Series 2 Episode 1 on BBC iPlayer (requires BBC licence)
Series 2 Episode 2 on BBC iPlayer (requires BBC licence)