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by Karen Pecota

Alon Schwarz, Israel 2022

Growing up believing in a beautiful Israeli history of how his country became a nation, filmmaker Alon Schwarz happens upon a treasure trove of documents that shatter his naiveté. Audio recordings, hard copied accounts, and interviews from those who lived to tell a different story come out of the closet when approached by Schwarz to set the record straight.

Schwarz, heartbroken to learn a different story of his beloved Israeli countrymen, opens a door to truth telling and shares with the world TANTURA. Schwarz's journey begins with the findings on a website about Teddy Katz. In the 1990s, Katz was a graduate student doing research of what Israelis know as the War of Independence. Palestinians refer to it as "Al Nakba" (the Catastrophe) because when the State of Israel was established in 1948, hundreds of Palestinian villages were depopulated in the aftermath of the war over territory and discrimination. At one time Katz was one of Israeli's prized scholars. His research unearthed a dark past in Israel´s history the government had taken great strides to keep secret. The work Katz accomplished was intensely attacked which led to the demise of his stellar reputation. Katz was taken aback by the ridicule toward his findings and saddened to realize his avenue for truth telling was not welcomed within the historical Israeli annals.

Intrigued by the research Katz produced and a longing to hear his story, Schwarz asks for a personal audience when he realized Katz was still living. Schwarz says, "I wanted to explore with Katz what happened in the village of Tantura and find out why “Al Nakba” is taboo in Israeli society." Adding, "I went to visit Teddy, not sure what I would find." Continuing, "I encountered a physically broken man with a deep need to bring his truth to light after everything was taken away from him twenty years earlier."

Katz is once again taken aback, only this time, by Schwarz's interest in his dissertational research, as well as the odd timing for his documentation to be unearthed. Katz openly gives the 140 hours of audio testimonies he has preserved from his research decades earlier into the hands of a stranger, and with joy gives the permission to use his information to reveal the truth of a historical reality that must be faced.